The Van Pelt formed in New York City in 1995. With former Native Nod singer/guitarist Chris Leo at the helm, the band's original membership included Brian Maryanski on guitar, Sean Greene on bass, and Neil O'Brian on drums.
The first full-length release of the band, Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves, was released on Gern Blandsten in 1996 and achieved a modicum of college radio success. Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves reached number 39 on the Gavin college radio charts, recalling a more melodic side of Sonic Youth with Leo's guitar-driven, half-spoken, half-sung delivery. The release was one of the more successful from Gern Blandsten's early catalog and was followed by a series of regional and national touring which drew even more attention to the band in the college underground. Sean Green left the group and was replaced by Blonde Redhead's Toko Yasuda. With the new lineup, the Van Pelt released their sophomore effort, The Sultans of Sentiment, in 1997, again released on Gern Blansten. Sultans of Sentiment focused more on textural elements and the building of the kind of melodic fragments that were present on their debut. Yasuda's influence also drew the band into more minimal song structures and introduced elements of electronic music into the mix. The Van Pelt disbanded in 1997, shortly after some brief touring that followed the release of The Sultans of Sentiment. While Maryanski and O'Brian would play with a variety of musical projects on the east coast, Chris Leo and Toko Yasuda went on to form the Lapse later that year. ~ Nate Cavalieri, Rovi