Formed in 2006, the band derived its name from the Wilco song, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” and consists of lead vocalist/ guitarist BJ Barham, bassist Bill Corbin, guitarist Ryan Johnson, guitarist Colin DiMeo, drummer Kevin McClain, Whit Wright on pedal steel guitar and keyboards. American Aquarium has released seven albums, including their most critically acclaimed album to date, 2012’s Burn. Flicker. Die.. According to American Songwriter, 'It’s a record for anyone who creates art, even if recognition and a stable living may never come of it".
Their first album, Antique Hearts, was released in 2006, followed by The Bible and the Bottle in 2008. The band continued to tour extensively, playing around 250 shows a year. They began building a wider and more varied fan base beyond their native state.
Their sophomore effort received some critical attention, and that same year the band released the minimalist live EP Bones, recorded in a friend’s living room. Barham wrote the songs in the wake of a break-up, helping to cement a familiar theme of women who either got away or did the protagonist wrong. Their next album was Dances for the Lonely. Released by Last Chance Records in 2009,it featured one of their fan favorites, “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart.” Small Town Hymns, released in 2010, brought more favorable reviews and continued comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Whiskeytown, and Lucero.
In 2012, American Aquarium released two albums: Live in Raleigh and Burn. Flicker. Die., which garnered considerable praise from music critics and fans. Produced by Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive By Truckers, the album was originally intended to be the band’s last, but they now have no plans for retirement. Barham says,"It's kind of ironic that the record about not making it is the record that helped us make it." "Throughout, the music crackles and snarls with a raw viscerality that carries distinct echoes of the Drive-By Truckers and early-seventies Rolling Stones—boozy, swaggering closing track “Saturday Nights” even sports a signature crunch-riff that’d put a big smile on Keith Richards’ face."Burn. Flicker. Die. was nominated for "Best Americana/Roots Album” and “Best Album Artwork” in the 2013 Lone Star Music Awards.
The band released their sixth original album, Wolves, in February 2015. The band's fans helped raise $24,000 through a Kickstarter project to help fund the album's production, and the album was recorded in Asheville, North Carolina at Echo Mountain.
On November 25, 2016 "Live at Terminal West" was released by the band from a live show recording in November 2015 at Terminal West in Atlanta, Georgia.