Vocalist Paul Janeway and bassist Jesse Phillips met in the mid-2000s while playing in Birmingham, Alabama as a part of the alternative soul outfit The Secret Dangers. In 2012, Jesse and Paul met back in Ol' Elegante Studios in Birmingham to start a new project. Janeway says of the project with Phillips, "It was going to be our last hurrah" before focusing on other careers, "but then something just clicked and we walked out of there with something." As the two began working around Janeway's voice, they realized they were forming a soul outfit. As the project progressed, the pair brought in Browan Lollar, formerly of The 400 Unit, Andrew Lee, Ben Griner, and Allen Branstetter. Here, they recorded their first EP, Greetings from St. Paul and The Broken Bones before ever playing a live show.
After releasing Greetings from St. Paul and The Broken Bones, the band gained attention from managers and labels alike. In January 2013, they began recording their first full length album, Half the City, at the Nutthouse Recording Studios Sheffield, Alabama and Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. While recording the album, the band brought in Al Gamble to play keys. Gamble continued to play with St. Paul and The Broken Bones and has been a full time member since January 2014. Half the City was produced by Ben Tanner of the Alabama Shakes.