Brothers William Stanley “Bear” Rinehart III and Nathaniel Bryant “Bo” Rinehart were raised in Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, and later moved to Seneca where they started performing. The Rinehart brothers grew up at a church camp that their father, who was a pastor, ran. The brothers first performed in front of coffee house audiences at Furman University, where Bear, who was named after University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, was a wide receiver for the Furman Paladins football team, winning the 2002 Banks McFadden trophy for South Carolina football player of the year. After graduation, Bear, Bo and Joe Stillwell joined with Seth Bolt, releasing independent albums that were recorded in Bolt’s Plantation Studios.
The name of the band is based on a Greek demonstrative parable of Socrates related to seeking God, and Bo Rinehart indicated that it was better than other names that the band had at the time.
In 2001, the band independently released an eleven-song album, The Feature. In 2004, they followed with two four-song EPs: Fire and Turnaround. These brought the band to the attention of Lava Records, owned by Universal Music Group, who signed the band in 2005.