In 2008, lead singer Dan Reynolds met drummer Andrew Tolman at Brigham Young University where they were both students. Reynolds and Tolman added Andrew Beck, Dave Lemke, and Aurora Florence to play guitar, bass, and piano respectively for their band. Their name is an anagram for a phrase only known to members of the group, that Reynolds stated each member approved of. The five-piece released an extended play titled Speak to Me that year, but Beck and Florence departed from the band's line-up later that year. In 2009, Tolman recruited long-time high school friend Wayne Sermon, who had graduated from Berklee College of Music to play guitar. Tolman later recruited his wife, Brittany Tolman, to sing back-up and play keys, and the band began to play shows together again. Lemke left the band later on, leading Sermon to recruit another Berklee music student, Ben McKee, to join the band as their bassist and complete the line-up. The band garnered a large following in their hometown of Provo, Utah, before the members moved to Las Vegas, the hometown of Dan Reynolds, where the band recorded and released their first three EPs.