The Walkmen features three members from Jonathan Fire Eater and two from the Recoys. When Jonathan Fire Eater disbanded in 1998, the group took the remainder of their Dreamworks funding and established an uptown rehearsal space in New York City that doubles as a 24-track recording studio where they use a wide variety of vintage equipment. The 900-square-foot Harlem industrial space, dubbed Marcata Studios, was completed in the fall of 1999. (Interesting trivia: Bands that have recorded at their studio include labelmates the French Kicks and experimental rockers Arto Lindsay and Nacao Zumbi.) The Walkmen, some of whom had gigged in the City under the moniker Today Okay, formed in 2000 and consisted of Fire Eaters Walter Martin (vocals, organ, etc.), Paul Maroon (guitars), and Matt Barrick (drums), and ex-Recoys Hamilton Leithauser and Peter Bauer. Like Jonathan Fire Eater, the members of the Walkmen grew up together in the Washington, D.C. area and have played in the same bands since the fifth grade. Perhaps the only way the group could be any closer is if they were all related. (Martin and Leithauser are cousins, so the (semi) merging of bands is also somewhat of a family reunion!) The Walkmen make a conscious attempt to evolve away from the raw, fiery garage sounds of their previous bands. They incorporate piano into the new songs as well as take the compositions in new directions by experimenting with instrumentation and recording techniques. The Walkmen are influenced by such diverse bands as the Pogues, Joy Division, Bruce Springsteen, Björk, U2, New Order, the Smiths and the Cure. Their new music has favorably been compared to Pixies, Brian Eno and the Velvet Underground with strong hints of U2 and Television. An online advertisement for the Marcata Studios explains that the owners appreciate the sonic recordings on Joy Division's Peel Sessions, Talking Heads' Fear of Music, the Specials' The Specials, and Royal Trux's Singles, among others. The Walkmen released a self-titled, four-song EP in 1999 through the small Brooklyn label Startime International (Brendan Benson) and completed a vinyl-only release to be made available at concerts. The first Walkmen concert was at Joe's Pub in the East Village in September of 2000, shortly after their EP was released. In 2002, the Walkmen made their proper full-length debut with Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. It was a favorite among most indie crowds and the album led the Walkmen to tour the world in support of it. Bows + Arrows, the band's first for Warner Bros' Record Collection label, appeared two years later.