In the Summer of 1978, Bob Hay was living in Kennebunk, Maine, in a house wih 6 other people and working as a waiter at a lobster restaurant. The house was a gathering spot for many people and often hosted acoustic guitar jams. One of the regular participants was Ken Starratt who lived in a teepee a little ways outside town. At some point Ken mentioned to Bob that "something was happening" in Athens, Georgia, where Ken had lived the year before. In November, Ken was going to head back to Athens, and Bob decided to go with him. So they headed down the East Coast in Ken's VW van following the Grateful Dead's tour to Boston, New York, Baltimore, Hampton Virginia, and Charlotte.

Upon arriving in Athens, Bob got a job at the Eldorado, a natural foods restaurant (in the old Morton Theatre building). This was just after the B-52's had moved to New York. Before they left, their singer Fred had waited tables there, and their practice space was in a room behind the restaurant that was said to be the old embalming room of a mortuary. The practice space was then taken by the band Turtle Bay, later known as Men in Trees. Deadheads like Bob and Ken listened almost exclusively to the Grateful Dead, but at the Eldorado they were exposed to The B-52's and other "new wave" bands like The Talking Heads, which expanded their musical tastes considerably.

Bob began playing music with some of his Eldorado co-workers. With Lu Dominski, who was a cook at the Eldorado, he played songs by David Bowie, Patti Smith, The Cars, Roxy Music, and other bands. Lu and Bob played one show at The Last Resort under the name Claire de Lune. Bob and Ken played Dead covers a few times at Tyrone's open mic night. Bob became friends with "Big Al" Walsh, another Eldorado cook, and they played music together in two different settings. One setting was after the Eldorado closed for the night, they once in a while would "borrow" Turtle Bay's practice space along with Tom Wilson and have wild electric jams they called Bach Lava. The other setting was at Al's house, which he shared with Diana Torell, where they would play guitars while Walter Dodd played flute and Gary Evans sang songs he made up about the news of the day. Gary coined the term "squallin'" to describe these sessions referring to the Southern term for an infant crying.

In early 1981, Bob saw The Side Effects at the 40 Watt Club (256 Clayton St.) and decided he wanted to have his band play there. So Bob and Ken, along with Mig Little, persuaded Al to take up the bass which he agreed to do if his friend Mark Cooper Smith would play the drums. Diana got an Acetone keyboard. And so the band Squalls came to be. They played their first show at the 40 Watt Club on Dec 3, 1981.

They would eventually play 64 more shows at the 40 Watt. They also played numerous shows at other local venues like the Uptown, the Mad Hatter, TK Hardy's, and the I & I Club.

In 1982 and 1983, they had 2 live recordings ("Catholic Girls" and "Crickets") in heavy rotation on WUOG which helped build their audience.

In April of 1984, they embarked on the first of many tours up the East coast playing in Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Richmond, at CBGB's in New York City, and Maxwell's in Hoboken.

In September 1984, Squalls recorded their 6-song EP at Jim Hawkins' Electro-Acoustic Systems studio. Bob put the EP out on Mbrella Records on November 29, 1984. It sold quite well for an independent release with a second pressing after the first 1000 sold out quickly. In October of 1985, they recorded their single "Crickets" b/w "Bride of Frankenstein" which was also released by Mbrella.

In January of 1986, Bill Cody and Tony Gayton filmed their documentary about Athens music "Athens, GA: Inside/Out." Two Squalls songs, "Elephant Radio" and "Na Nanana" are featured in this movie.