Since 1996, Beanbag has gigged around the Brisbane, Australia youth scene, building a following on the strength of their intense live performances, and two independently released demo tapes and an EP. Beanbag's first introduction to the United States came in 1998 when a copy of one of their recordings leaked through to Radio U in Columbus, Ohio, where the track "Whiplash" shot to #1 on the request charts and stayed there for a month and a half. Beanbag crossed the big, blue Pacific Ocean to North America in 1999 as the flagship act for inpop, a new record label devoted to cultivating international talent founded by fellow Australian, the Newsboys' Peter Furler, manager Wes Campbell, and Sparrow Label Group. Five new songs were recorded and added to the existing material to complete the band's full-length American debut, Free Signal.
The four young men collectively known as Beanbag are Phil, 28, who plays drums; Hunz, 22, who is the voice of Beanbag; Hirvey, 22, who plays bass; and Michael, 23, who plays guitar. Individually, the band members have very disparate musical tastes. They listen to everything from classical and jazz to punk, shoe-gazer, alternative, female folk artists, funk, disco, new wave, techno and metal. But it's what they all put into the band that comes out in the music. "It's not like we go out to write a heavy rap song, or whatever," Hirvey said. "We all jam together and what we come up with is here. We're more into what suits the music and not about finding something that is considered really cool." That approach to making music made Beanbag unique in the Brisbane scene, who said they were surprised when they got into American music and discovered, "there's a heap of bands like us over here."