Nova Social dates back to 1996, when guitarist/vocalist David Nagler formed Stretch with Thom Soriano (bass) and Steve Pilgrim (drums). The band spent the next few years cutting its teeth on the New York City and New Jersey club scenes; with the addition of guitarist Michael Esper, Nagler's clever, adroit pop songs were buoyed by a more aggressive delivery. The 1998 EP Don't Settle for Walking, released on Big Sleep Records, revealed this perfectly: wry power pop tunes dished out by a tight band able to go from hyper rock numbers to nakedly emotional ballads. After Esper left the group, the name was changed to Nova Social and the band continued as a trio. During this period, Nagler was also active as a musician outside of his own group, spending time performing and arranging music with alt-country singer/songwriter Chris Mills, whom he met while both were students at Northwestern University in Chicago.