In 1996 the band released an eponymous E.P. on Motel Records that Rolling Stone said "shows how pop culture and high culture can bring everyone to the same place." Soon after, they inked a deal with Capitol Records and put out the critically acclaimed (and Grammy nominated) Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon in 1997. The band then toured the US and Europe with a diverse assortment of acts (The Melvins, Girls vs. Boys, Cibo Matto, The Jesus Lizard, They Might Be Giants, Morphine, Braniac, Primus (band)...) before headlining their own US tour. After 2 grueling years on the road and a half-finished album recorded, original members Chris Maxwell, Rick Lee departed, leaving the future of Skeleton Key in jeopardy.
The band, which had been reduced to a lone Sanko, signed with Mike Patton's Ipecac Recordings and released Obtainium in 2002. With a revamped lineup, the band hit the road again, playing several successful tours with bands such as Tomahawk, The Melvins, Alien Ant Farm and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. With the current lineup of Sanko, LeBlang, Clapp and Sankey, the band has released a five song EP, titled The Lyons Quintette on Do Tell Records.