After years of the Los Angeles party lifestyle and subsequent drug addiction, Ebert broke up with his then-girlfriend, moved out of his house, and spent some time in rehab. During this time, he developed Edward Sharpe, his alter ego. "I don't want to put too much weight on it, because in some ways it's just a name that I came up with. But I guess if I look deeper, I do feel like I had lost my identity in general. I really didn't know what was going on or who I was anymore. Adopting another name helped me open up an avenue to get back." Ebert developed Sharpe into a messianic figure, saying "He was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind, but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love."
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