Chicago quartet California Wives were formed in 2009 by multi-instrumentalists Dan Zima and Hans Michel along with drummer Joe O'Connor.
These three musicians were quickly rounded out by Jayson Kramer, another multi-instrumentalist, with a focus on guitar and keyboards. The band developed a sound based on a strong '80s new wave and pop influence, blending the dancey bounce of Prince, the Police, and Culture Club with more electronic synth pop nods toward New Order or Human League. Early in its existence, the band set about recording its debut EP, No. 8, settling on the solid instrumentation of Kramer on lead vocals, keyboard, and guitar; Zima on bass; O'Connor on drums; and Michel on lead guitar. The group played often and regularly released new tracks online. A second EP, Affair, followed, and in 2012 Michel was replaced by Graham Masell on lead guitar. Later that year, California Wives signed a deal with Vagrant Records and began working with producer Claudius Mittendorfer on their debut album, Art History. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi