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Christiansen began in the late '90s in Louisville, where it existed as a side project in between other bands, school, and real life. Vocalist/guitarist Brandon Bondehagen, guitarist Drew Sellers, bassist Brad Magers, and drummer Terry Campbell wrote a few songs and played a few shows, but it wasn't until the 1998 demo Up Front With the Girls that Christiansen really began to take itself seriously, and make a live dent locally. The proper debut, Above Lunar Emissions, appeared in 2000 on All Star. It showcased the combo's increasingly kitchen sink approach to emo and post-hardcore, which drew on the intellectual, angular sound of Louisville indie combos like Slint and Elliott. The latter group's Kevin Ratterman was a guiding force for the band, helping out with its demo and co-producing the debut.
Guitarist Sellers left the fold after Lunar, and was replaced by Praveen Arla. More recording followed. The result this time around was Emphasizing Function Over Design, issued by the Florida indie Eulogy in 2001. It was a more ambitious album than its predecessor, distorting the post-hardcore template with math rock texture. At this point Arla departed, leaving the guitar spot vacant once again. However, Robby Scott soon joined up, and finally solidified the Christiansen lineup. The band rode solid buzz for its second record into tours with heavyweights like Hatebreed and Joan of Arc, and began work on a follow-up EP. They jumped to the larger and better-connected Revelation for July 2002's Forensics Brothers and Sisters! EP, and with their sound making noise with the critics, prepared for more touring and a breakout full-length. That happened in October 2003 with Stylish Nihilists. The band rocked the CMJ Music Marathon in support of the album, and toured that autumn with Vaux and Vendetta Red. In the spring of 2005, Christiansen changed names to Your Highness Electric. There was no lineup upheavel, the guys simply felt a new moniker was necessary to reflect a new sound they were working on, which the band considered "high energy progressive rock and soul."