The band members met during childhood and have known each other in some form or another for twenty – twenty-five years. Panda Bear and Deakin have been friends since third grade in the mid-80s and began playing music together in the early 90s in a band called The Cartels. Avey Tare and Geologist have been friends since 1993 when Geologist moved to Baltimore from Philadelphia before ninth grade, and they started playing music together in 1994 in a band called Auto Mine. Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin all attended high school at the Park School in Baltimore and met through mutual friends. Deakin joined Auto Mine in 1996 and soon introduced the others to Panda Bear who was going to high school in Pennsylvania. Having spent their formative years playing and discovering music together Deakin and Panda Bear released what is considered the first Animal Collective-related release, Panda Bear's debut self-titled album (1998) on their own Soccer Star Records. In 2000, Soccer Star became Animal and released Avey Tare and Panda Bear's Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished.