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The....... has been in existence for about three and a half years now, while before that Kai had been a member of a group called ......., and even before that was also involved with another group called........

Why for the most recent event the author used past perfect and for the least recent event he used past simple, he should have done the contrary or simply sticked to past simple as before indicates which event comes first

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The sentence sounds just right to a native speaker. Three things happened in the order of A, B, and C. The sentence is set as a flashback, using order C, B, A.

The verb had been (action B) contrasts with "The X has been ...for three years now" (action C). The words even before that define the order of time, so using was also (action A) is clear enough to tell us what happened before what. Action A is the oldest action.

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What is grammatically correct is the past perfect. I suspect banana mag is not the best source from which to learn English. I too am a native speaker, and the quoted sentence sounds either lazy or uneducated or colloquial to me. The most likely is intentionally colloquial; in speech, the distinction between past and past perfect may not be given the attention accorded to it in formal writing. I doubt the writer will have a career at the New Yorker, but I also doubt that his intended audience is the New Yorker's.

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