Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner began a solo career in 1997 with the release of Tren Phantasma, a collection of improvised four-track recordings featuring the contemplative guitar style he used with his group the Dirty Three. The following year, Turner and his bandmate Jim White played live as the Tren Brothers, carrying the album's aesthetic into a concert setting with an arsenal of loop pedals and understated percussion.
Several of these dates were opening spots for Cat Power, with whom the duo collaborated on the 1998 album Moon Pix. Turner and White also recorded a 7" for Secretly Canadian Records that year, and followed it with 1999's Marlan Rosa, released by Drag City. In summer 2002, Turner released the Seven Angels EP, a limited-edition set issued by Three Lobed Records. Later that year, his third album Moth arrived. In 2005, an extremely limited CD-R live EP, entitled Don't Tell the Driver, was issued by Turner's King Crab label.
In 2007, a Tren Brothers rarities collection, The Blue Trees, appeared. Between that year and 2012 he appeared on records by Clare Bowditch & the Feeding Set and Guy Blackman, as well as on a split 7" between the Tren Brothers and Bridezilla. In 2013, a compilation of his earliest recordings with Jim White in the band Venom P. Stinger was released by Drag City, followed by a brief reunion tour and the release of his next full-length solo effort, Don't Tell the Driver, in November. Though it bore the same title as the 2005 EP, they weren't related in any way. The full-length album had been composed and recorded intermittently between 2009 and 2012 at Big Moth studios in Australia.