Soulbender initially began as a solo project of Queensrÿche guitarist Michael Wilton in conjunction with two longtime friends, guitarist Dave Groves and drummer Wes Hallam. Through a mutual friend, producer and engineer Eric Janko, Michael was introduced to vocalist Nick Pollock, formerly of Alice N' Chains and My Sister's Machine. Soulbender played their first live show opening for Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate's solo band at the EMP in Seattle in June 2002. They also performed at the very first Layne Staley Tribute later that August.
With the addition of bass player Marten Van Keith, who also hailed from Vancouver according to Wilton, the group released their self-titled debut album through Licking Lava Records in 2004 and they immediately began to tour in support of the album. Prior to the release of the album, Sefany Jones of KNAC was given a demo CD of six songs. In her review, she wrote, "The overall feel of this album is entrancing, inasmuch as I would describe Tool." She also likened it to Marilyn Manson, Alice in Chains, and Michael Monroe. Wilton said in an interview a year later that "a lot of people are apparently comparing it to Alice in Chains and Tool." Despite playing a couple sellout shows, the band has experienced much difficulty getting off the ground due to Wilton's Queensrÿche duties. Wilton compared this predicament to that of singer Maynard James Keenan, who pulls double duty with Tool and A Perfect Circle, saying "I'll do a little tour here with one band and a little tour there with the other band." Van Keith was replaced in 2005 by bass player Chuck Miller, formerly of the band Peace and Silence.
In 2007, Pollock and Hallam stepped down from their respective roles as vocalist and drummer and replaced by Travis Bracht of Second Coming and for a brief spell Van Williams of Nevermore. Bracht had previously worked with Chuck Miller in Peace and Silence. Later that year, Ray Hartman replaced Van Williams on drums and Soulbender released a song called "Loaded" on Unleashed 3, a compilation album of songs by various artists from Ratpack Records. They also performed at the sixth annual Layne Staley Tribute along with Daughtry in 2007.
In 2008 and 2009, Wilton said he was "six songs into" finishing a second album. By this time, he said that Tim "Ripper" Owens had assumed vocal duties. However, as of 2012, this album still has not been released. In 2011, Wilton said, "I actually have 75% of the Soulbender 2 written so it will get finished I just don’t know when."