Front End Loader were formed in December 1991 in the Sydney suburb of Darlington. Founding mainstays are Bowden Campbell on guitar and vocals; and Davis Claymore on lead vocals and guitar – who had broken away from Edelweiss, their previous band – together with Richard Corey on bass guitar; and Peter Kostic on drums – both from Perth-formed group, Kryptonics.The new group were named 'Front End Loader' – which was originally chosen as "a ridiculous, strictly temporary title, until something better came up. Ha" – to enter into a Sydney University band competition. They made the final alongside Frenzal Rhomb but both lost out to another group.
In January 1993 Front End Loader appeared at the Sydney venue of the Big Day Out concert series. In the next month they issued their debut single, "Weak as Piss". The group signed with Survival Records and released their first extended play, 'Fraid Knot, in May. Their first album was the self-titled, Front End Loader, which appeared in the following month, and included the tracks "Weak as Piss", "'Fraid Knot" and "All Star Jam". It was recorded at Powerhouse Studios, in the previous November, and was produced by the group with Paul Tagg. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, felt it "highlighted the band's sense of humour and gritty, unrestrained brand of thrash rock". In September that year they supported an Australian tour by Canadian group, No Means No.
In June 1994 Front End Loader released their second EP, Adolescent Fantasy World, and followed with a split single, "Heightened State of Awareness" backed by a track from Melbourne-based psychobilly band, Fireballs.In October that year Front End Loader toured Europe supporting No Means No. Their second album, Let's Ride!, as well as its lead single, "Be Jesus", were released in March 1995 by Shagpile Records and distributed by Shock Records. They had been recorded in September 1994 at Q Studios and mixed at Eclipse Studios with David Price and the group producing.Together the material "mixed brawn with irony, complex riffs with eccentric humour" according to McFarlane. Rachel Hill of The Canberra Times felt the album "deserves a second hearing ... [as it] takes the fearless on a ... full-strength adventure of emotion and power".In November 1995 they supported No Means No on an Australian tour.
In January 1997 they supported Radio Birdman at gigs in Gosford and Coogee Bay, I-94 Bar's reviewer, The Barman, noted "while they're tight and intense, it's hard to see why they bother having two guitarists when, for most of the night, they play the same thing. I want to like them but I can't help thinking Helmet do the same thing, only better". Their third album, Last of the V8 Interceptors, emerged in August that year, which was named for the protagonist's vehicle in the feature film, Mad Max 2 (1981). It had been recorded in April 1997 with Magoo (Regurgitator, Tu-plang) producing at Paradise Studios.
An ode to assisted suicide, "Pulse", from the album was issued as a CD EP of the same name and became their signature tune. It received high rotation on national radio, including on Triple J. "Pulse" was listed at No. 72 on that network's Hottest 100 poll for the year.Two further singles from the album appeared in 1998, "Summer Hits" (February) and "4 Star Heritage Arsehole" (April). During the latter half of that year Campbell worked with a pop, rock group, Stella One Eleven; he was also a guest musician on Jimmy Little's adult contemporary album, Messenger (June 1999).
In 1999 Front End Loader recorded a cover version of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" as a duet with Barry Crocker, which was issued as a single in July. It appeared on Timelines: The Intergenerational Music Project, a compilation album by various artists which paired young bands with artists over 60 to celebrate 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons At the end of that year Kostic, while still a member of Front End Loader, joined Regurgitator to replace Martin Lee on drums.
The band signed with Redline Records and in March 2002 released their fourth album, How Can We Fail When We're So Sincere?. Kostic joined another group, The Hard-Ons, on drums while continuing with Regurgitator and Front End Loader. In April the following year Front End Loader entered Troy Horse Studios, with Jonboyrock producing, to record, Ape Got Fire (August 2003), a seven-track EP.
In May 2004 the group's performance at Sydney's Annandale Hotel was recorded by Magoo, which was eventually released on 1 April 2008 as part of a live album, Laughing with Knives. It appeared on the Illustrious Artists label in a 2× CD format with 22 live tracks, a bonus 19-track disc of rarities, and an 8-page booklet with track-by-track liner notes.
On 6 May 2011 the band's fifth studio album, Ritardando, was issued on their own label, Weeping Anus Records, through MGM Distribution. They followed with a national tour to promote the release. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2011 it won the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album category. The group had sent Triple J host and Frenzal Rhomb member, Lindsay McDougall, along to deliver an acceptance speech even though they felt a win was "highly improbable".
In the prepared speech, the band indicated they could not afford to attend, they thanked their fans and families; then they addressed the local music industry "as you were … please carry on … we mean you no harm. We will continue to write Rock Music that we enjoy, play shows when and where we can, and record and release this music as our time, money, and circumstances permit. None of these activities concern you so please, move along, and let us never speak of this again".The speech was not broadcast during the Nine Network's channel, Go!'s coverage of the ceremony.
On 14 July 2012 the group delivered another EP, the five-track Fresh Six, while promoting a collaborative beer of the same name made with a microbrewery. The beer was described by the company's owner as "tight and pretty punchy, and it should be strong obviously ... fairly bitter, and I know you guys are fond of tequila on stage so we should include some dark agave syrup in the beer". Campbell told theMusic.com.au website's Steve Bell "Making a beer for us was far more impressive than the ARIA".