Sons of the Sea is a collaboration between Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd and producer Brendan O'Brien, who has helmed several Incubus albums. The project started with the pair wondering what would happen if they just sat down and wrote songs together. The duo started exchanging ideas, including a Boyd vocal that eventually turned into this song. The Incubus singer recalled to Billboard magazine that a day after sending it to O'Brien, "he called me at a friend's house and he's all excited like 'Check this out!' And he played me back my voice recording but then played the guitar part along with it, and that was really all we needed to really say like, 'Let's actually do this. There's something here.'"
"Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve samples an obscure orchestral arrangement of the 1965 Rolling Stones song "The Last Time." The Verve had to sign away most of the royalties before they could release the song.