Playing garage-accented pop that reveals more than a passing influence of indie rock from the 1980s and '90s, Mikal Cronin was raised in Laguna Beach, California, where as a teenager he developed a passion for both surfing and rock & roll. While attending Laguna Beach High School, he fell in with a handful of like-minded music fans and formed a band that played local parties. Cronin left California for a few years to attend Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, but returned to continue his education at the California Institute of the Arts. While attending CIA, he joined the surf-influenced garage band Charlie & the Moonhearts as bassist; they became simply the Moonhearts after the departure of drummer Charlie Moothart, and in 2010 the band released a self-titled album through Tic Tac Totally Records. Cronin also began collaborating regularly with Ty Segall, releasing a collaborative album, Reverse Shark Attack, in 2009 and playing in Segall's road band.