With the appearance of a heavily bearded tattooed prophet, Daniel Higgs emerged from the early-'80s Baltimore/D.C. hardcore punk scene as an underground icon with a near-mythological status. He sharpened his teeth in the music scene as a wild-eyed vocalist in the legendary Baltimore hardcore group Reptile House. Brewing a dark psychedelic sound with early-'80s hardcore energy and aesthetics, they earned a solid following and a lasting reputation due to debauchery at their live shows. The group disbanded in 1986 and Higgs, who was raised on Yeats and Dylan Thomas, became involved with the Apathy Press poets and started doing open-mic poetry readings. He was introduced to former Null Set bassist John Chriest, who created tape loops for Higgs to play along with his spoken words. One night, the two decided to jam on a whim, and after discovering a strong chemistry, they teamed up with a drummer and guitarist and quickly evolved into a new band.