Evan Mast and Mike Stroud first met as students at Skidmore College, but they did not work together until 2001, when they recorded several songs under the name "Cherry". Their 2004 debut, Ratatat, was written and recorded in Mast's Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment on his laptop. The album is entirely instrumental with the exception of vocal excerpts at the beginning and end of select tracks.
The group debuted by releasing the single "Seventeen Years" on Mast's and his brother Eric's (E*Rock) record label Audio Dregs in the US and Rex Records in the UK. They then signed for XL Recordings, releasing their debut album and the single "Germany to Germany". Ratatat occasionally remixed tracks by other artists for collected release on Ratatat Remixes Vol. 1 (which garnered the attention of Rolling Stone), as well as the later second volume, both of which were self-released in co-operation with Audio Dregs.
Both musicians have had experience with other projects, such as Mast's E*vax and King Pang and Stroud's stage work with Dashboard Confessional. Stroud has also recorded with Ben Kweller on On My Way. Ratatat has toured with bands such as Björk, Daft Punk, Mouse on Mars, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, CSS, The Faint, Super Furry Animals, Clinic, Panther, and The Killers. In 2010, they supported Vampire Weekend on their UK Tour.
On October 6, 2006, Ratatat became the first band to perform a public show inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
On October 10, 2006, a new demo album from Ratatat titled 9 Beats was leaked online. This set of tracks does not appear on any official discography listings. 9 Beats was not an official album, the tracks consist of short instrumental electronic musical pieces and demos for their next mixtape. This release was followed by another remix album, Ratatat Remixes Vol 2.
It was rumored that they would be signed by Star Trak Entertainment as the understudies of The Neptunes.
Mast has most recently collaborated with former Shudder to Think vocalist Craig Wedren on a record for a Tokyo independent label, Mold Recordings and said to be finishing a follow up solo album for Audio Dregs.
From June 2007 until October 2008, Ratatat had Martin Bonventre accompany them on their European tour and Fall shows in America as the pianist/synthesizer player. Bonventre drew much attention due to his erratic dance movements on stage. The reason for him leaving the performance is unknown.
Ratatat's live performances bear strong similarities to the performances of the psychedelic rock bands out of San Francisco in the 1960s, with energetic light shows, swirling colors projected onto a screen, and random clips of movies thrown in. Evan Mast creates and edits the videos that are projected on the screen. Many of them are included on their YouTube account. The front page of their official website has a list of tour locations and dates. Cameras are usually not allowed when attending one of their concerts.
The official site has been updated showing the videos of the three first singles of their third album LP3, which was released on July 8, 2008. "Shiller", "Shempi" and then "Mirando" have all been released (or announced) on 7" or 12" singles, "Shiller" being first released with a special b-side, the track "Mahalo".
Ratatat contributed two songs to Man on the Moon: The End of Day, the debut album by alternative rapper Kid Cudi, released September 15, 2009. They performed together on Late Show with David Letterman on September 11, 2009. The two songs are produced in the similar electronic style Ratatat is known for; those titled "Alive" and "Pursuit Of Happiness" featuring MGMT.
According to Mike Stroud in an interview conducted by Julia Askenase of Paste Magazine released on August 4, 2009, "most of [LP4] was recorded during the same studio sessions that yielded LP3". Ratatat's fourth album, LP4, was released on June 8, 2010, via XL Recordings.
Ratatat have supported Vampire Weekend at The Brighton Centre and Alexandra Palace. In 2010 their song Neckbrace was used in the ski film "The Way I See It" by Matchstick Productions. Their track "Mirando" was used in Prada's SS2011 ad campaign.
In August 2011, Ratatat was featured in the song "Red Alert" on CSS's new album La Liberación.
On September 29, 2012 past collaborator Kid Cudi confirmed that Ratatat would be featured and producing on his upcoming third studio album Indicud, however the collaboration didn't make the final cut after Kid Cudi decided to produce the whole album by himself, with the exception of an additional production by Hit-Boy on the track "Red Eye" featuring Haim.
In May 2013 they entered the Austrian Singlecharts after the Austrian network provider A1 used "Loud Pipes" for a radio-advertisement.
The band played Coachella Festival and Governor's Ball Music Festival in 2015. They debuted their new song, "Cream On Chrome," just a few hours before their night-ending Coachella set on April 11, 2015. The band also played a concert in Pomona, California on April 15, 2015, and also played at Primavera Sound in Barcelona in May.
In May 2015, the band announced that their fifth album, Magnifique, would be released on July 17, 2015, and will feature a cover of the 1971 Springwater single "I Will Return".