Smoke or Fire originally formed in Boston in 1998, when western Massachusetts natives Joe McMahan (lead vocals and guitar) and Jeremy Cochran (guitar) met New Hampshire boys Ken Gurley (bass) and Nick Maggiore (drums) as students at Boston University. Originally calling themselves Jericho, the quartet released their debut album, When the Battery Dies, in 2000. Bailing out of the cramped and wicked-expensive city of Boston upon graduation, the quartet resettled in the mellower confines of Richmond, VA, and began work on their second album. When a long inactive Christian rock band from Australia, also called Jericho, complained about the young whippersnappers usurping their name, the boys politely amended it to Jericho RVA for the 2003 EP Worker's Union. Their press kit claims that at this point, the band ran into problems with a hostile band of conservative Christians over their new name, though it seems just as likely that they recognized its general lameness. Changing their name yet again to Smoke or Fire, the quartet signed to the Fat Wreck Chords label and released 2005's Above the City, produced by label head Fat Mike.