Brothers Lillian Berlin (born Jason Berlin Rothman), Eve Berlin (born Justin Yves Rothman and sometimes known as Yves Berlin), and Bosh Berlin (born Joshua Rothman) grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis. Future Living Things guitarist Cory Becker was a childhood friend. The band self-released two early EPs produced by Steve Albini, and gained the attention of several record labels. They first signed with Dreamworks Records, which released the album Black Skies in Broad Daylight in 2004, but the label then dropped the band due to their controversial, politicized concert performances. Geffen Records also spent money to develop the band but then dropped them for similar reasons. They eventually signed with Jive Records.
Living Things released the critically acclaimed album Ahead of the Lions in 2005. Produced by Steve Albini, the album ranked #42 on Rolling Stone Magazine's top 50 albums of the year. The single "Bom Bom Bom" reached #21 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Lillian Berlin published the book Postmortem Bliss (Apocrypha Press), describing his teenage years in which he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and became addicted to anti-depressants. The book was adapted into a short film directed by Floria Sigismondi and broadcast on Turner Classic Movies in 2006.
Living Things released the album Habeas Corpus in 2009. Also in 2009, Eve Berlin participated in a photo shoot with fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and had a brief relationship with model Kate Moss. In 2010 Lillian Berlin composed the original score for the film The Runaways.
Living Things self-released a series of songs in 2010 and announced an upcoming triple album, though that album never appeared. They released a controversial video for the song "Har Megiddo" featuring a man having sexual intercourse with his car. Lillian Berlin stated that Ray Kurzweil's philosophy on "singularity" and society's love of machines were the inspirations for the video. The band has been inactive since 2011.