The genesis of Running Blue emanated from some jamming sessions that Alan Kennedy and Damien Reilly had, just after leaving school in 1982. From 1982 to 1984, Alan managed to land a few acoustic gigs at the Briars Inn, Bowral. This was a very popular local pub back in the late 70s and early 80s, and still pulls in the patrons to this day.
Around a year or so later, heading into 1984, Damien got together to start jamming with Tim Williams, Kenny and David Frew. Rehearsing songs on the weekend gave birth to a few crazy tunes with gems like “Black and Blue ” and “Respectable”. The song “Black and Blue” by today’s standards would not be a politically correct song to play, with lyrics about cracking a whip all over town. Tim Williams had a way with words. They had a sound, and now they just needed something to call themselves… The name “The Zilths” sounded pretty punk and cool, so that was the band’s first name.
From these early jam sessions it was clear that the band needed a singer. The call was put out to Alan by Damien, and then things started to happen. It was not too long before Damien and Alan had penned 10 or so songs, and it was then time to get a proper band together.
Alan knew a keyboard player, Michael O’Grady, and through Damien’s connection to Peter Nathanial, he referred two of his friends Sam Kalos and Nando Pettinato for guitars and drums. The band was formed around the original songs that Alan and Damien had been writing, and regular rehearsals at Damien and Gerrard Studios from mid 1985. With the new line up established, it only took a few rehearsals, and the musical fire was well and truly lit, and burning bright.
After a few rehearsals were under the band’s belt, Sam Kalos submitted The Zilths into the Sydney Uni Band Competition. This was to be the band’s first gig, and they got some interested reviews from the Honi Soit mag, a Sydney Uni mag that covered the band competition and social events then.
“The Zilths”, while a cool punk kind of name, did not really suit the band, so Alan ended up coming up with the new name, “Running Blue”. With the band changing its name to Running Blue after the band competition, the band went full speed into rehearsing to garner a rep. In a few short weeks, the band put together a 25+ song set, that comprised of mainly originals and a few cover songs.
It was time to get gigs, and Alan was the man that was always able to secure them. He had a magic way with landing key gigs, and Running Blue soon had regular shows at the Rose of Australia Hotel and The Whitehorse Hotel in Camperdown. In addition, any of the Sydney University gigs that Alan could land, he got.
In the mid to late 80s, the Sydney live music scene was vibrant and happening. It was a great time, a time when a band got paid to play and also got a drink rider. With everyone being their early 20s, it was on for young and old to consume as much beer as they could. That was the 80s for you!
The band got tight very quickly, and the crowd liked what they heard. By early 1986, it was time to record, and see if the crew could translate the energy they had live into some recordings. The first session the band had was a live recording session at Damien and Gerrard studios with Russell Pilling producing. You can hear these sessions on the Running Blue albums where the tracks are noted as “live”.
More gigs and shows were booked very quickly. The band needed to record properly and with the help of the band’s friend Peter Nathanial, he put a call to his musical genius brother “Trevor”. A meeting was had in June ’86, and Trevor agreed to produce 2 original tracks.
Trevor felt that if the band could get two good original tracks properly recorded, they could potentially do well on local radio and build a buzz for the band. The songs he selected were “Daniel”, about a girl called Daniel of course, and the song “Grey Day”. The latter was a song that Damien had mostly written about domestic violence in the home, and trying to escape the vicious circle that comes from situations like that.
The sessions were completed at JMC Studios in Sydney on the 9th July 1986. The songs are a reflection of the sound at the time, and influenced heavily by other artists like The Cure, Spandau Ballet, and The Smiths. Alan’s vocals always had that cool Morrissey sound happening.
Once the recordings were completed, Alan was busy landing gigs again, and Running Blue were back at the Rose of Australia pub and other venues into the late part of 1986. The band was entering into a tense phase with Alan and Michael wanting to do more cover songs, and Damien, Sam and Nando wanting to focus solely on originals.
As things happen when you are young, you sometimes just stop getting together, and a band can be very hard work for little pay. It was the 80s, and other things started to get in the way, like parties, chasing girls, and the explosion of the late 80s club scene.
The band had a brief but super creative period for 18 months that produced some great songs, marking this moment in time for all to reflect on.
As we work our way through the new 20s, and with Damien, Alan and Michael back in contact with each other, there are new songs in the works. Who knows what will happen? One thing for sure is that the music will be great, original, and have exceptional vocals from Mr Alan Kennedy, and some cool synth pop from Michael O’Grady with Damien Reilly at the production helm.
This is Running Blue. You can check out all the news on Running Blue at www.runningblue.net. Running Blue are a Blue Pie Records USA and Blue Pie Publishing USA ( ASCAP ) artist. For more information on the band please visit Blue Pie Records.
Running Blue are a Blue Pie Records USA and Blue Pie Publishing USA ( ASCAP ) artist.
The Band Members:
Venues and Gigs:
The band played throughout 1985 and 1986 at many venues across Sydney including: