Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Crisis – No Mercy

Written by  May 31, 2006

Hard Rock is a term loosely applied to a wide variety of music depending on the generation you grew up in. Rock Hard, on the other hand is associated with many things, the least of which is music. For Crisis, the three piece power trio from Olathe, Rock Hard is a fitting principle to their sound. Their debut album, “No Mercy,” released this spring, is a testament to that. In the song, Living Contradiction, the lyrics say it all “the weapon of choice is volume!” If you’ve seen them live, you could not disagree.

With metal in their blood, Crisis emerged in 2001. Featuring Steve Kuker (pronounced Keek-R) on drums, Chris Myers on bass and Lonnie West on guitar, they are all vocalists and committed musicians (feel free to interpret that in any manner you choose). With a combined 90 years of experience in playing, writing, producing and performing live, they are also passionate entertainers who truly enjoy each other’s company.

From the opening tune and title cut, “No Mercy,” their sound is strong and fat and straight at you. They also sing excellent harmony along their pounding sound, as evidenced in the tune “The Choice,” Progressive rock influenced all three members in their musical development. Lonnie was swayed by guitarists Joe Satriani, Stevie Vai, Jimmy Page and George Lynch (Dokken). Chris’ influences were Yes bass player Chris Squire and Dave Coverdale, formerly of both Deep Purple and Whitesnake, while Steve grew up a big Rush fan with Neil Pert as his idol.

These guys are not just metal heads, but compassionate musicians who use their hard-hitting form of self expression not just to demonize corporate exploitation, but also to demonstrate admiration for others. Each are parents whose love for family is passionately expressed in the song, “I’m There for You.” They have also played in the annual Fort Riley Open House and Welcome Home celebration for troops and their families, the Blessing of the Bikes in Pittsburg, Kansas and for the past two years, have been the entertainers for Spike’s Breast Cancer ride. Last fall, they quickly assembled a local benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Their respect for American soldiers fighting overseas is well demonstrated in the straight forward song “Thank You!”

As a group, they are a good fit who get along better than brothers. In the case of Steve, whom I’ve know for nearly 20 years, even when he’s not behind the drums, he is entertaining! His wit, humor and self confidence are non-stop and easily identified in the first few minutes after meeting him. A former member of Patriarch, a familiar local band from the eighties, his dreams of succeeding in the music business have been long held. As a father of four, one daughter and triplet sons, he remains steadfast in pursuit of a high level of musical success. His wide ranging tenor voice is comparable to Dennis DeYoung, former Styx lead vocalist.

Chris, a medical services provider and self proclaimed, “strikingly handsome” is an avid Harley-Davidson rider. The opening pounding bass in “Alter Ego” clearly demonstrates his love for motorcycling and tells the stories that many of us live, waiting for the end of the work day just to get out and ride. Chris plays a Music Man Sting Ray and solely uses an Ampeg amplifier. He also utilizes a foot operated Taurus keyboard, an instrument from years passed.

Lastly, the banzai guy from this group would be Lonnie. He relishes his role as the solo guitarist and clearly enjoys his responsibility as the front man, frequently wandering into the audience for some “in your face” guitar. He is a monster player who very effectively and effortlessly transitions his rhythms into stingingly progressive, blistering hot, screaming leads. His collection of most used axes includes four different Ibanez models, a Gibson Flying V, an ESP Viper and a Peavey Wolfgang. Lonnie plays through a highly customized footboard set and into two Laney half-stacks combined with a 5150. His style and ability is attention getting which only further fuels his desire to entertain.

In addition to their original tunes, their live performances include outstanding covers of tunes from bands such as Queensryche, Motly Crue, Ozzy, Alice in Chains and Dream Theater to name a few. Seldom do they play traditional classic rock tunes but there is one not frequently played by other bands that they absolutely nail, The Immigrant Song from Led Zepplin.

If you want it loud, if you want it pounding, if you want it in your face, if you want it HARD, then you want Crisis! Go check out their web site at www.crisisrocks.com for a live performance schedule. While you’re there, give their new record a go! You won’t be disappointed!

Article & photos by Nic