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The Format is an indie pop/rock band formed by Arizona natives Sam Means and Nate Ruess. Throughout the band's existence, the duo has toured and recorded with a revolving door of musicians, and as of 2007, the band consists of guitarists Mike Schey and Mark Buzard, bassist Don Raymond, drummer Sean McCall, and its principal members, singer Nate Ruess and multi-instrumentalist Sam Means. The band chose their name to make fun of the music industry's inclination towards a cookie-cutter "format" for a hit. Despite this critique of the music industry, the band's aptly-titled first single–"The First Single" (from their five-song debut EP on Western Tread)–became popular in the Southwest music scene. This success led to The Format's signing with Elektra Records in 2002. Their first major label release and full-length album Interventions and Lullabies was released in October 2003. However, Elektra began to fold into a merger just as the album was rolling out its promotion, leaving the band as merely an afterthought as label restructuring began. The band toured North America for about two years while making plans for a new album and waiting out industry red tape.

The Format released a second EP on Atlantic (which had absorbed much of Elektra's roster after the label folded) titled Snails in April 2005. Although the EP was not a conventional mass release, it could be purchased at any of the band's performances, from their online merch store, and on iTunes. Not long after the release of the Snails EP, The Format was dropped from Atlantic. Due to their frustrating experiences with major labels, the band chose to record and release their second full-length album Dog Problems independently on The Vanity Label. The July 11, 2006 release of Dog Problems came two months after the band released the album for download on their website, in a move to combat an early leak.

The Vanity Label, an imprint of major label Nettwerk, is managed by the band.

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