The unheralded college rock band the Dharma Bums garnered a passionate cult of fans, especially in their hometown of Portland, OR, but the group broke up just when the Pacific Northwest was attracting media attention for its underground music scene. The Dharma Bums were essentially a reunion of the Watchmen, a band formed by Jeremy Wilson (vocals), Eric Lovre (guitar), and Jim Talstra (bass) in high school. The Watchmen gained a following in Oregon by covering '50s rock and new wave hits from Elvis Costello, the Jam, and Joe Jackson alongside their own tunes. However, the Watchmen split up when Lovre and Talstra graduated from high school. In 1984, Wilson started another group, Perfect Circle. Unlike the Watchmen, Perfect Circle only performed original songs. A year later, Perfect Circle shared a bill with the Young Fresh Fellows at a club in Portland. Wilson was introduced to producer Conrad Uno and the Young Fresh Fellows' frontman Scott McCaughey; his band was given an offer to record in Seattle, WA, but they splintered before that could happen. After he graduated in 1986, Wilson moved to Portland and asked Lovre and Talstra if they wanted to jam. The trio recorded four songs in one evening at a farmhouse. Originally calling themselves the Afterludes, they changed it to the Dharma Bums and added drummer John Moen from Perfect Circle. The group used money from sold-out gigs in Portland to visit Seattle and see if Uno was still interested. The Dharma Bums' studio sessions with Uno led to a contract with his label, PopLlama. In 1988, PopLlama released the Dharma Bums' first album, Haywire. "Boots of Leather" was a smash on college radio. The band signed a deal with Frontier in 1989. The group recorded two more albums and then disbanded in 1992. Wilson formed Pilot in 1993.
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