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Epic Hero formed in Minneapolis toward the late '90s. Dan Duerloo (drums) and Justin Milbradt (vocals) were collaborating with various locals at the time, and issued a CCM-flavored album with that lineup in 2001 under the Wellspring moniker. The effort was pretty well received, but lineup and direction changes put the band in limbo. Still, they managed to tour through their personnel diversity, building a following on the college circuit, and by 2002-2003 bassist Brad Bivens was on board permanently.
Area pop music luminary Dan Wilson (Trip Shakespeare/Semisonic) entered the picture at this point, and began working on material with the band, now officially called Epic Hero. (The guitarist spot was still in flux, though Ben Gowell was the fill-in on speed dial.) Hero's next album took shape with Wilson's aid as a producer and co-songwriter, and finally appeared through New Artist Direct in spring 2004. The aptly named New Life was a strong, well-crafted effort in the vein of Matchbox Twenty and Wilson's own Semisonic, and got Epic Hero noticed in the Twin Cities and beyond.