Born in and around the Motor City in 1988, the Volebeats formed due to a mutual displeasure and boredom with trendy bands and music. Starting as an acoustic outfit, lead guitarist/vocalist Matthew Smith and vocalist/guitarist Jeff Oakes began writing songs with Terry Rohm and Jeff's brother Al. With Keir McDonald (from Detroit's Medusa Cyclone) on drums, the Volebeats began performing on street corners throughout the Detroit suburbs. For the first few years of its existence, the band had a revolving group of musicians that included another Oakes brother, Brian, on upright bass, drummer Mike Murphy and guitarist Mark Niemenski (both from another Detroit band, Hysteric Narcotics), drummer Bill Peterson, and Rebecca Kaplan on fiddle. Fusing hardcore country and folk music with a melodic pop flair and rock & roll sensibility, the Volebeats released their debut, Ain't No Joke, on Relapse Records in 1989, with current guitarist and songwriter Bob McCreedy -- who had played with Oakes in the Frames in 1981 -- joining the group shortly thereafter.