The band's name is taken from Hampden College in Donna Tartt's novel "The Secret History". The book focuses on a group of college kids embroiled in a pagan cult.
The Hampdens have played with Ben Lee, Evermore, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne, Thirsty Merc, Sarah Harmer, george, Rob Thomas, and Missy Higgins.
Their debut independent EP, Brightness Falls, was released independently in August, 2003 to rave reviews, with the first run sold out within two weeks. A second run was pressed and subsequently sold out. The success of the Brightness Falls lead to Sony releasing their follow up EP, Even World, in May, 2004. Even World was recorded with Dave Parkin at Blackbird Studios in Perth and mixed at Metropolis Studios in Melbourne. Their third EP So Young It Hurts was released in 2005 on Rubber Records. The EP was mixed and recorded by renowned UK producer Eden, best known for his work as side-kick for Nellee Hooper (Madonna).
The band recently finished recording their debut album, The Last Party, in New York. The Hampdens enlisted the services of Victor Van Vugt (Beth Orton, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey) to produce the album, with fellow Melbournian Matt Lovell (Silverchair, Eskimo Joe) act as sound engineer. The first single from this album, "Generation Y", was released in July, 2007. The song is about beauty and hope, about white Converse sneakers and beating hearts in dark clubs, about a new generation for whom Kurt Cobain is nostalgia and ‘CK one’ is a cultural relic, about going back to the town you grew up in and burying your hands in the soil. "Generation Y" was also co-written by Julian Hamilton of The Presets.
In early, 2008 The Hampdens filmed a video for their second single, "Asleep on the Lawn", in Essendon West.