Dave Gleeson (new singer of The Angels) and Grant Walmsley met at St Francis Xavier's college Hamilton in 1981 and first performed together for a school dance at the Newcastle Town Hall. They formed the group Sudden Impact in 1985, which later became Aspect. Paul Woseen joined in 1988 and Richard Lara (guitar) and Brad Heaney shortly after. The band was renamed Screaming Jets in 1989. The group's first performance as The Screaming Jets was as The Love Bomb in a Newcastle pub in March 1989 and they won the inaugural National Band Competition run by youth radio broadcaster Triple J in November
The group relocated to Sydney in early 1990 and supported The Angels on a national tour. In May 1990, they signed with independent label, RooArt. Their debut extended play (EP), The Scorching Adventures of The Screaming Jets, was issued in December 1990.
Through late 1990, The Screaming Jets became infamous for a series of raucous, sometimes violent, live shows. During shows to launch the debut EP, fights often broke out as the band's faithful Newcastle fans mixed with the new Sydney fans. A show at The Kardomah Cafe in Sydney's red light district saw a string of casualties being ferried to the street outside with injuries including broken noses, a broken leg and numerous victims of heat exhaustion.
In February 1991, The Screaming Jets released "Better", which peaked at number 4 on the ARIA Charts. In April, their debut studio album All For One was released. The album debuted at number 3 and peaked at number 2 on the ARIA Charts. The album showed influences from Van Halen , AC/DC and The Angels . It reached the Top 50 on the ARIA End of Year Albums Chart for 1991. "Stop the World" and "Shine On" both reached the top 40. The controversial track "F. R. C." ("Fat Rich Cunts") was a crowd favourite – a live version was released on Stealth Live! (EP, 1991) – which Gleeson would dedicate to Michael Gudinski or Russ Hinze at concerts. At times, "F. R. C." was performed by guest vocalists from Mortal Sin, The Choirboys or The Angels.