When bassist Nick Woolford was six years old, his parents took him to see The Beach Boys. He was in awe of the large crowd and everyone’s positive reactions and excitement, and the memory of that concert stuck with him for years to come. From that moment, “I knew I wanted to be that guy on stage. From every show I’ve played to all the people I’ve met, I owe it to my parents for taking me to that concert,” he shares. And although he’s been pursuing music since the age of fifteen, it’s safe to say Nick never expected to be playing in a band whose moniker was inspired by Full House’s beloved Uncle Jesse.
Formed in Baltimore in 2011, Have Mercy consists of vocalist and guitarist Brian Swindle, bassist Nick Woolford, drummer Todd Wallace, and guitarist Andrew Johnson. In their relatively short time together, the guys of Have Mercy have had their share of ups and downs. Unfortunately, difficulties are practically a rite of passage when it comes to the music industry, and you have to learn to persevere despite how bad things may get. The guys did just that, and, together, they learned one of the most important lessons that come with the territory: “Never give up. It’s hard, it’s damn hard. Sometimes, after a ten-hour drive, you end up playing to nobody, and you just want to say, ‘Screw it, I’m done.’ You can’t do that. If you love it and feel passionate about what you do, it’ll work out,” Nick declares.
Nick and his bandmates are proof of that. Despite the odds against them, the four have successfully released one EP and two full-length albums. After signing to Hopeless Records in 2013, Have Mercy began working on their latest record, A Place of Our Own. When it came time to write a new album, Nick lets us know that the process was very collaborative. “Brian wrote a main idea and came to us with it. We sat down, broke it apart, and threw ideas around. We saw what works, and really took everything piece by piece,” he details.
As far as the new material is concerned, Nick doesn’t believe that there is an astounding change in sound. “We are Have Mercy, and these are Have Mercy songs. With A Place of Our Own, we really just pushed ourselves to try and become better songwriters,” he exclaims.
While you would think that a touring band would be tempted to write about all the new places they’ve had the opportunity to experience, the idea behind Have Mercy’s second album was inspired by their hometown. “We wanted to show what it’s like to actually live in Baltimore. Everyone sees the harbor stadiums, but what they don’t show you on TV is what we see every day when we leave our houses,” Nick explains. “It’s a little rough, but it’s a place of our own.”
When it came time to record the LP, Have Mercy learned from their past mistakes. Instead of cramming the recording process into only a handful of days, the band took their time and recorded eleven songs over the span of a month. The hard work paid off; the response to the album “has been phenomenal, and we’re so excited about it.”
Since then, the guys have been promoting A Place of Our Own on many different tours. More recently, this past November, Have Mercy wrapped up a full US tour in support of Real Friends and Neck Deep. To close out 2014, they were one of the main stage acts at the Glamour Kills Holiday Fest in New York City. According to Nick, “it was a huge party. So many of our friends were playing, and it was definitely fun.”
In just a few short years, this indie rock quartet has accomplished what many bands only hope to achieve, and it’s still just the beginning for them. Nick agrees, stating that “as long as the fans keep coming to the shows, the sky’s the limit on what can happen.” With 2015 already well underway, Have Mercy have a lot of big plans. Although Nick can’t reveal what’s in store for the band just yet, he does share that one of his childhood dreams will be coming true very soon. Could it be a headlining tour, a support slot alongside one of his favorite bands, or perhaps playing at one of the many big music festivals of the summer? Whatever it is, it’s bound to be another incredible opportunity for Have Mercy.
WORDS: LORI GUTMAN + LEAH DICKERMAN