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The Living Things took root in the early 2000s, pairing punky songcraft with a fiercely political edge. The band's most outspoken figure was frontman Lillian Berlin, who grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis alongside his brothers (and future bandmates) Eve and Bosh Berlin. Although all three of the Berlin siblings had trouble fitting in, Lillian experienced the most difficulty, eschewing the typical activities of a teenager for an interest in literature (chiefly the works of Jack Kerouac, Jim Carroll, and Sylvia Plath) and music. He picked up the guitar at an early age, and his younger brothers learned the bass and drums, respectively.

Once Lillian Berlin turned 18, he relocated to Los Angeles alongside his siblings. Sporting a notebook full of songs, a swaggering attitude, and a name lifted from a 1960s poster reading "War is not healthy for children and other living things," the Living Things appropriately took shape. Local shows led to offers from several labels, and the band ultimately signed with DreamWorks toward the end of 2002.

Steve Albini produced the band's Turn in Your Friends & Neighbors EP, which was released in December 2003. He then remained in the production booth for Living Things' full-length debut, Black Skies in Broad Daylight, which originally appeared in February 2004 before being reissued by Jive Records (with a revised track list) as Ahead of the Lions. "Bom Bom Bom" became a modest hit on modern rock radio, and Living Things enjoyed accolades from a slew of publications before setting to work on their sophomore effort. The brothers decamped to Berlin, set up shop in the famed Hansa Tonstudio, and reprised their politically themed punk for Habeas Corpus, which appeared internationally in February 2009. ~ MacKenzie Wilson & Andrew Leahey, Rovi