Longtime mates Sam Herlihy (vocals/guitar), Anthony Theaker (guitar), and James Lawrence (guitar) grew up in the market town of Chichester in West Sussex, England, in the late '80s and early '90s. To keep themselves entertained, the three of them obsessed over the latest Brit pop phenomena. Paul Wilson (bass) joined the group around their mid-teens, and expanded their love for music. He and Herlihy landed a development deal with Parlophone during this time; however, only sheer luck worked in their favor. They'd skip class to record songs at Abbey Road Studios, but Herlihy and Wilson lacked direction and knowledge when it came to crafting an original sound. A few years later, a little older and a little wiser, they formed Hope of the States in 2000. They took their name from Albert Deutsch's The Shame of the States, the controversial book published in 1948 that ridiculed the U.S.'s unimpressive mental health system. From there, out came the military uniforms to symbolize their strict bond as a band and as friends, while also a criticism of a man's lack of compassion for his fellow man. Hope of the States didn't want to belong to the core pop crowd -- Coldplay, Travis, Mansun -- but they probably shared more with Manic Street Preachers' political frame of mind than they realized.
Mike Siddell (violin) and Simon Jones (drums) were a part of Hope of the States by this time, and the six-piece continued to flesh out their post-Radiohead rock sound. The limited edition of the "Black Dollar Bills" single appeared in summer 2003. Copies sold out immediately, and the band landed spots on the coveted Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds festivals in England. A deal with Sony followed in June while the band's second single, "Enemies/Friends," hit number 25 on the U.K. singles charts by fall. Everything seemed to moving along nicely for Hope of States; they'd began recording material for their full-length debut with producer Ken Thomas (of Sigur Rós fame). Sadly the biggest shock came in January 2004 when Lawrence committed suicide. Such tragedy encouraged the band to persevere. The magnetic storm that was The Lost Riots was issued in October. The limited-edition Blood Meridian EP arrived in April 2006, selling out quickly. It also preceded the band's ambitious second effort, Left. After standout festival performance at Carling Reading, and Leeds in summer 2006, Hope of the States ended months of speculation by announcing their split in late August. ~ MacKenzie Wilson