Equally indebted to the Shins and Brian Wilson, the Morning Benders mix sunny pop songcraft with jangling guitars, collegiate wit, and a contemporary indie ethic. Frontman Chris Chu launched the group as a solo project in 2005, using a single microphone and laptop to record his first batch of songs. The Loose Change EP arrived in September 2006, and Chu subsequently opened the Benders' doors to several of his UC Berkeley classmates, including drummer Julian Harmon, bassist Tim Or, and guitarist/organist Joe Ferrell. A second EP, Boarded Doors, appeared in early 2007 and was well received by such Bay Area publications as The SF Weekly, prompting Chu to take a part-time job as a studio engineer in order to finance an additional record. Largely produced, engineered, and mixed by Chu himself, the full-length Talking Through Tin Cans arrived in May 2008 on the newly minted +1 Records label.
Talking Through Tin Cans fared well in indie pop circles, and the band toured heavily in support of its release, occasionally serving as the opening act for bands like Death Cab for Cutie and the Kooks. After releasing an album of acoustic pop covers, the Morning Benders pulled up stakes and moved to Brooklyn, where their '60s SoCal hooks gradually gave way to a more experimental sound. With Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor serving as co-producer, the bandmates introduced their new approach with 2010's Big Echo, an ambitious album that fused Chu's pop melodies with atmospheric textures. Shortly following the album's release, Ferrell left the band, replaced by Chris' brother Jon Chu. Amid touring and work on a new album, the band left San Francisco for Brooklyn. In early 2012 the band announced via twitter and Facebook they'd be changing their name to Pop Etc. after learning the word "bender" carried some homophobic connotations in the U.K. ~ Andrew Leahey