Lyttleton-based "wandering spirits" Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks joined forces in 2006, and The Eastern was born. McGrath describes them as "a string band that roars like a punk band, swings like a gospel band, drinks like a country band and works like a bar band". The lineup varies from the two founders, to as many as 20. In the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch quake, the band embarked on a legendary tour of "munted" backyards around the city. Their 2012 double album Hope and Wire inspired the title and many of the songs heard on Gaylene Preston's 2014 drama about the quakes, with McGrath acting as a "vital guide".