The Minus 5 began life as a side project of the Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey, who formed the band in 1993. McCaughey designed the Minus 5 as a pop collective, and each record the group released featured a new lineup. Throughout these releases, he worked the most frequently with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, who was featured on the group's eponymous debut EP, which was only released through They Might Be Giants' mail-order record club, Hello Records. By the time they recorded their full-length debut album, Old Liquidator, in 1995, the Minus 5 consisted of McCaughey, Buck, and the Posies' Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. After releasing Old Liquidator on East Side Digital, the group reconvened in late 1996 to record its Hollywood debut, The Lonesome Death of Buck McCoy, which appeared in the spring of 1997.
The same year, McCaughey's solo album My Chartreuse Opinion was reissued by Hollywood as a Minus 5 album, and the Minus 5 and the Young Fresh Fellows faced off on a special double-disc split release, Let the War Against Music Begin/ Because We Hate You. After a changing of the guard at Hollywood Records, the Minus 5 found themselves back in the independent leagues in 2003, with the Return to Sender label releasing a collection of outtakes from Let the War Against Music Begin called I Don't Know Who I Am before McCaughey signed the band to the Yep Rock label for his collaboration with Jeff Tweedy, Down with Wilco. Yep Roc also issued an EP dominated by Down with Wilco outtakes, At the Organ, and reissued In Rock, a collection of tunes McCaughey recorded in a single day in 2000. The full-length In Rock and the EP At the Organ appeared in 2004, followed by the eponymous The Minus 5 (aka "The Gun Album") in 2006 and Killingsworth in 2009. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi