The quartet met in Harrisonburg, VA, before embarking on an eastward migration to the Virginia capital of Richmond. Comprised of former members of Sleepytime Trio, the Weak Link Breaks, and Bughummer, Engine Down debuted at the showing of a murder mystery flick. They first released a self-titled 7" through Lovitt in 1998; their full-length Under the Pretense of Present Tense following later that year. After that, the band -- comprised of Jonathan Fuller (guitar/vocals), Jason Wood (bass/vocals), Keeley Davis (vocals/guitar) and Cornbread Compton (drums) -- put out 2000's To Bury Within the Sound and 2001's A Sign of Breath EP, touring with such acts as 400 Years, Speedwell, and Three Penny Opera. Also in 2001 came their third and most popular album, Demure. In 2004, the band released its fourth record, Enginedown (CD was on Lookout, LP on Lovitt) . Engine Down toured Europe in early 2005 before announcing that they would be breaking up (amicably) later that year. Following a fall U.S. farewell tour supported by Bella Lea and Des Ark, the band members went their separate ways.
Davis joined the band Sparta as lead guitarist. Compton began drumming for various bands including Biology, a side project with From Autumn to Ashes members Francis Mark & Josh Newton. Compton then joined Cursive to record their 2009 album Mama, I'm Swollen. Keeley and Jonathon Fuller have reunited in both Denali, and new band, Heks Orkest, featuring Denali member, Cam DiNunzio. Keeley, and Cornbread also put out a project Glos on Lovitt.