While it wasn't until 1999 that the Kate released their first material, when they did so, it was the culmination of 8 years of on-again/off-again collaborating between founders Robbie Cook and Randall Rhodes. Though the two drifted a bit after the first few months, Cook moving on to Sweet Mama Cactus and Rhodes to Dear Dead Delila, they stayed in touch, up to and including doing some shows together and Cook even almost joining Delila at one point.
After both bands ran their all-too-short courses, the two began working together again as a unit called Polystyrene. Guitarist Terry Beck briefly floated through as a third member, followed by Rhodes' former-Delila bandmate Joey Lawler and a drummer named Matt Quinn. None stuck, however, and Polystyrene remained a 2-man unit until the addition of bassist Scott Mehallow and drummer Mike Then, along with a name change to Techno Trousers, made a short-lived quartet. This unit soon gave way to Spanking Kate, with Mehallow and Then once again out of the picture, replaced by keyboardist Karl Thor.
"The Polystyrene Tapes" EP collects 5 songs from the Polystyrene era (1 of which was re-recorded for their debut), plus a 6th song from early in the Kate era. Temporary member Beck adds guitar on 2 of the songs.