By Scott Roberts
During the “golden age” of southern jangle-pop in the 1980s, few bands had the energy, humor, eclecticism, and pure musical chops of Marietta’s (and later, the World’s!) Guadalcanal Diary. After the band broke up near the end of that magical decade, singer/songwriter Murray Attaway enjoyed a respectable solo career, re-formed the band briefly near the latter part of the ‘90s, and then seemed to mostly disappear from the public radar. He has now emerged with a new band, Bomber City (which includes, among others, former Diary guitar hero Jeff Walls), who recently made their debut in Athens, and will make their Atlanta debut this Friday the 13th at The EARL. With varying degrees of seriousness, Attaway recently answered a few questions from Atlanta Music Guide.
How long has Bomber City’s lineup been together?
We started last fall as a result of my fielding myriad requests for performances via Facebook, etc. But Jeff (Walls) and I have made some version of music together since 1981, and, really, before that, as early as mid-70s. Pat Patterson [drums], Diana Crowe (vocals) and Jeff and I were in the original incarnation of Hillbilly Frankenstein. Billy Holmes (keyboards, violin, guitar, whatever) did some work with me on a couple of film scores in the 90s. And, now, Pat, Phyllis (Walls – bass), and Jeff are in a band called the Nairobi Trio. So this is a very new band that has been together for a very long time.
Does this musical configuration have a jarringly different sound than either Guadalcanal or your solo stuff? If so, how would you say it differs?
What a hard question. I’m not sure I’m objective enough to answer it conclusively, but … Bomber City has six members, all of whom sing; Billy Holmes plays every instrument we throw at him; I’ve never been in a band with such a group of capable musicians, and that allows us to play music that I’ve never been able to play live before. Guadalcanal Diary’s ethic was to never record in such a way that we couldn’t duplicate it live. In Thrall [Attaway’s 1993 solo CD] was a very different exercise, and was not meant to be played verbatim live, but this band can actually pull it off. Yep.
Do any of the songs Bomber City performs date back to the GC days – maybe songs that just didn’t quite work out with the band or your solo era?
Oddly, the song “Under Jets,” which was on In Thrall, is a song that I wrote for Guadal, and which we recorded, but didn’t release. And the name Bomber City comes, partially, from that song.
During WWII, Marietta, Ga. was known as the “Bomber City” because of the Bell Bomber plant that was located there. It later became Lockheed Aircraft. Pretty much all the members of the band either grew up there, had family that worked there, or, maybe, just idealized it. Either way, it’s also the chorus of our song “Under Jets.”
Should the audience expect to hear any Guadalcanal chestnuts mixed in with the newer songs?
Yes. Not chestnuts, perhaps. Maybe walnuts. Or pecans. I like pecans.
Have you guys done any recording or are there any recording plans in the works?
I can neither confirm nor deny. But, no. Yes. Not yet. Soon. No. Yes.
OK, thanks for clearing that up! Any future plans for Bomber City you DO care to discuss?
Ah, future plans, yes. I’m thinking cookies. Or pie. Or maybe moist cake. Or world domination. No matter what, I’m afraid Bomber City is going to be around for quite some time. People like us just won’t stay home.
Bomber City play The EARL with Tiger! Tiger!, August 13.