Founded by a trio of high-school buddies -- Ben Brown (electric guitar), Neil Mason (drums), and Ben Morton (vocals, acoustic guitar) -- Llama (then known as "Dahlia Llama") was legendarily discovered in a pizzeria in their hometown of Nashville by producers/musicians Kenny Greenberg and Matt Rollings. The pair quickly recognized the trio's raw talent. The band was quickly and eagerly signed by MCA Records.
Recorded over two years while the members of the band finished high school, MCA issued Close to the Silence in early 2001 and promptly pushed the band out onto the road. The record featured the group's Dave Matthews-like blend of acoustic guitar and propulsive rhythms, highlighted by Morton's powerful young voice. Throughout, they were assisted by Greenberg and Rollings, as well as legendary banjoist Béla Fleck. The youthful band spent the bulk of 2001 on the road, where they began to map a future in a record industry that, more often than not, eats its young. The next year, Llama issued The World From Here EP.