By Tim Shellberg|
NW Indiana Times, January 2003
Aspiring bands looking to make a name for themselves might want to follow No Mercy Band's lead. Nearly five years ago, the band hounded Chicago's House of Blues for a spot on its itinerary. When nothing panned out there, it sent the venue another press kit. Then another. Then another.
"I sent press kit after press kit and calling them back and calling them back, and it finally paid off," said No Mercy Band guitarist Pat "Lefty" Collins. "I want to push the envelope and see how far we can go, but our main goal in this band is to have fun and put on a good show."
Performing at the House of Blues Saturday as well as Chicago's Hard Rock Café Wednesday, perseverance has been a winning factor for the south suburban-based band. Formed in 1993 under the moniker No Mercy Blues Band, Collins, who lives in Tinley Park, Ill., joined the band approximately two years later, and is the blues-rock outfit's senior member.
Rounding out No Mercy Band's lineup is bassist Pete Vancura and his brother, guitarist John Vancura, both from Worth, Ill., and its newest member, Chicago-based drummer Angel Murrilo, who joined the band last October.
All veterans of one-time burgeoning south suburban bands, No Mercy has averaged two shows a month with the House of Blues for nearly a half decade. On Feb. 23, 1998, the band first performed at the House of Blues, albeit acoustically and during the venue's lunch hour.
Although not a high-profile show, the band won over the diners as well as House of Blues wait and bar staff, who in turn passed their raves on to the talent department, leading to regular electric evening performances.
A born salesman using his talents and skills for a Tinley Park-based high-end copy machine corporation, Collins then turned his sights on getting his band into the then-World Music Theater. Since the summer of 1999, No Mercy Band has played at what is now the Tweeter Center's Rising Artists Soundstage, entertaining audiences before acts like Jimmy Buffett, Styx and B.B. King make their way to the main stage.
"Again, that was just us hustling," he said. "A place like the Tweeter has been a great experience for us because we've learned a lot from the business aspect as to how a show is put together and the things that go on."
A year after the group's first season at Tweeter saw the release of its first collection of songs called "Closer to What." Both band and album received positive reviews by the notoriously critical Illinois Entertainer upon "Closer's" release.
The article also gave music fans clarity as to the band's style.
"For a while, we've been struggling to try to classify the type of music that they play," Collins said. "Everybody wants to know 'are you a this sort of band' or 'are you that kind of band?' 'Are you rock?' 'Are you alternative?' and the (Illinois Entertainer) writer made a cool statement in there. He said, 'Its blues based, but it touches on a lot of different areas.' "
The band began recording what will be its follow-up to "Closer" early last year. Collins said the new, yet-to-be-titled collection of songs, which he hopes to make available by the end of next month, is less on the bluesier side when compared to "Closer."
"Songwriting is definitely an art, and I think that for me, it's a work in progress," said Collins, the band's primary tunesmith. "When you look at people like Springsteen and Mellencamp and Tom Petty and there's so many I'm missing, I have immense respect for them … songwriting has made me a much better observer of life."
And in addition to releasing its new material, the No Mercy Band also has its sights set on acquiring a fan base on this side of the border in the near future.
"The Northwest Indiana (music) market is one that I've observed for quite some time but really never tried to get into," Collins said. "That's one of the goals we have (for the near future)."
No Mercy Band is scheduled to celebrate its half decade with House of Blues with an anniversary performance there Feb. 22.
No Mercy Band
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
For more info: (312) 923-2000
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Hard Rock Café, 63 W. Ontario St., Chicago
For more info: (312) 943-2252