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The duo met and performed music since 2002 in various different bands and music projects, eventually forming drum and bass band Pendulum. While the band had three charted albums and singles, the two original members created Knife Party as a side project, although it evolved into their primary project. On 25 May 2011, Swire released a short preview on SoundCloud entitled "Not Pendulum". The name is derived from a Deftones song of the same name, which caused consternation at first as it implied that they supported knife crime, although Swire stated that "...we’re not advocating any type of knife-related crime any more than Swedish House Mafia were advocating organised crime."
Their second EP, Rage Valley, was released digitally through EarStorm and Big Beat. Rob tweeted a screenshot taken on his PC showing three of the four final Rage Valley tracks, captioning the photo "3 down, 1 to go", referring to the mastering of the final track "Sleaze". The title track "Rage Valley" was originally named "Fuck Em" but the title was changed "for secret shady reasons you will never know" according to Rob. "Sleaze" was also re-titled, the original being called "Until They Kick Us Out". Originally Rage Valley was set to be released before the end of April 2012, but due to multiple setbacks the release was delayed for four weeks. It was made available for purchase on Beatport and iTunes on 27 May 2012. The song "Bonfire", released on this album, was featured on an episode of AMC's Breaking Bad in the fifth season. The EP was also Knife Party's first ever entry on the Billboard 200, peaking at #75.
Their third EP Haunted House, was released on 6 May 2013 digitally through EarStorm and Big Beat. A last minute change was made to the EP and where "Baghdad" was replaced with "Internet Friends" (VIP). Rob also announced the approximate release date for the new EP, the week of 22 April, with iTunes on 29 April. Rob later announced the final release date would be 6 May due to issues beyond his control. The EP was leaked on 29 April, and later uploaded in its entirety on Knife Party's YouTube channel on 5 May as well as a trailer video for the EP. The EP entered into the iTunes Top 10 Albums Chart and peaked at #3. It also hit number 1 Electro House Album on Beatport. The EP was also Knife Party's first Top 40 entry on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at #37.
Rob Swire stated that he will be taking a six month hiatus in July from live performances in order to record new music. A month later Swire released a statement that along with an announcement of a new Pendulum album, Knife Party will be recording and releasing their debut studio album.
In May 2014 Swire stated that the Knife Party album is near completion and that they were in their final stages of finishing it off. In June it was announced that the album title will be "Abandon Ship", however explained that its release date will be announced once the album itself is finished. On 06 August 2014, Rob Swire released a teaser for the track "Boss Mode", from the forthcoming album. On 15 August 2014, the release of a single titled "Resistance", was announced, to be released for free on 25 August 2014 through SoundCloud, with the album to follow shortly after. On 22 August 2014, the album was announced, scheduled for release on 24 November 2014. On 22 September 2014, "Begin Again" was released as the second promotional single from the album, available as an iTunes 'instant grat'.[clarification needed] The song entered the UK Singles Chart at number 183. On November 7th 2014 iTunes leaked the whole album. Knife Party's Rob Swire mentioned in a tweet that he was happy with the album leaking, but that he felt it made "months of arguments about release dates and watermarks pointless."