Ativin formed in Bloomington, IN, in the winter of 1994 after Chris Carothers (guitar) and Rory Leitch (drums) met at Indiana University. Guitarist Dan Burton joined the group the following spring, cementing the band's loud instrumental rock sound. Steve Albini andCarl Saff recorded the band's debut EP, Pills vs. Planes, which was released in December 1996. The spring of 1997 saw the release of the Modern Gang Reader/Larkin single, the first of several releases for Secretly Canadian Records. The band worked with Andy Bryant at King Size on German Water, their debut album for Secretly Canadian, releasing it in March 1998. A return to Albini's Chicago studio, Electrical Audio, yielded the four-song EP Summing the Approach, which was released in the fall of 1998. Interiors followed after a wait of three years in early 2002. Continuing on in the same vein as Interiors, Ativin released Night Mute in early 2004.