Taking their name from Francis J. Child, the man who first researched and cataloged British folk music, New York City's the Childballads marked the return of Stewart Lupton, who had earned a small but fervent cult following in the 1990s as the lead singer with Jonathan Fire*Eater. Lupton was raised in Washington, D.C., and had known his bandmates in Jonathan Fire*Eater since they were kids. After graduating from the upscale St. Albans prep school in D.C., Lupton went on to study poetry at New York's Sarah Lawrence College, but before long his main priority was Jonathan Fire*Eater, who after releasing a pair of indie-label discs became one of the most talked-about bands on the Big Apple's club scene. The rave reviews for Jonathan Fire*Eater's live shows resulted in the group signing a deal with Dreamworks SKG shortly after the label was launched. The group was reported to have been given an advance of one million dollars, but Jonathan Fire*Eater's sole major-label album, 1997's Wolf Songs for Lambs, proved to be a critical success and a commercial disaster, moving less than 15,000 copies before the group collapsed in the summer of 1998.