Air Traffic are one of the breed of piano-led English indie rock bands, prevalent in the early 21st century; they hail from the sleepy seaside town of Bournemouth on the South Coast, not a hotbed of musical heritage to date. The group's name originated from its rehearsals in an abandoned industrial unit near the runway at Bournemouth International Airport, where air traffic control signals could be picked up on the band's equipment. Singer, pianist, and main songwriter Chris Wall's roots go back to Ireland -- both his parents were of Celtic descent and his uncle Jimmy McCarthy was a folksinger living in the town of Cork. Wall met drummer David Jordan and guitarist Tom Pritchard while still at school and they formed Air Traffic as a sideline to their exams, only really taking a potential career in music seriously during their gap year while in Queensland, Australia. On returning to London, the three 21-year-olds recruited a fourth bandmember, bass player Jim Maddock. Their first single featured the tracks "Just Abuse Me" and "Charlotte," and was released as a limited edition of 500 copies on the Fandango label, the independent record label of live music promotion company Club Fandango, in July 2006.
This was officially a time for more study, but in reality they were all blowing their student loans on hiring rehearsal studios. They cut some demo recordings and the industry began to take notice, a process that sped up when David Kosten saw the band at a gig in London in 2006 and signed them to his Tiny Consumer label, part of the EMI group; he then took them to Rockfield Studios in Wales to record their debut album. While recording the album, an EP of four of the tracks was released and Air Traffic also had their first television appearance in November 2006 when the band appeared on Later with Jools Holland. In April 2007, they re-released the track "Charlotte" as a single and took it to number 33 in the charts. This was quickly followed by "Shooting Star," one of the tracks from the EP that -- although only achieving a slightly higher place at number 30 -- paved the way for the release of the album Fractured Life in July, which was named Capital Radio's James Cannon album of the week. After the album was issued, Air Traffic announced a series of live dates around the U.K., including the V Festival and the iTunes Festival in July 2007 and a tour of 11 universities throughout the U.K. in September.