The New Bohemians started as a 3 piece ska-style band in the early 1980s, gaining experience in the new Deep Ellum neighborhood of downtown Dallas. The original line-up featured Brad Houser on bass, Eric Presswood on guitar, and Brandon Aly on drums.
Drummer Aly, guitarist Kenny Withrow, and percussionist John Bush went to the same arts magnet high school in Dallas, Texas, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Singer Edie Brickell also went to this school. However, the others didn't know her until later.