Joe Mazzuca - Lead Guitar
Joe grew up in Berwyn, and started playing guitar at the age of 12. He took guitar lessons from the original guitar player of Styx, the late John Curulewski. Joe totally immersed himself in playing and at times practiced up to 8 hours a day! His hard work and dedication paid off; by the age of 15 he was playing out at shows and had won several "Battle of the Bands".
Unfortunately, the amount of time he dedicated to playing took its toll and Joe walked away from playing. In the beginning of 2006, a childhood friend convinced him to pick it up again. Immediately the zeal resurfaced and again he's finding it difficult to put his guitar down, even bringing it with him on business trips.
Joe's current profession is a tax man. He jokingly tells people that when his day job ends. his night time job begins. practicing and learning new songs! Joe's greatest influence was Michael Schenker, the former lead guitar player from UFO.
Joe is divorced and has a wonderful son. He has a loving, understanding, and gorgeous girlfriend, Carol, who is Joe's number one fan!
Rudy Chmelik - Percussion
Rudy started playing the drums at the age of 8 in a Drum and Bugle Corps, moved on to a drum set at the age of 10 and has been playing ever since. He played in several bands in the 70's and 80's and was even covering some UFO and MSG songs back then.
He studied Music Theory and Percussion in college and sat in with the jazz band on drum set and the orchestra on timpani's. He also worked as a drum tech, a road manager and did audio for several different bands.
Rudy left the music scene in the mid 80's when he joined the Navy, he left active service in 1989 and started playing again. His playing is heavily influenced by Cozy Powell and Simon Philips both of whom played with MSG.
Chad Van Damme - Lead Vocals
Chad started as a vocalist in original bands around the Detroit, Michigan area (1987). Still In High School at the time, he was required to leave the clubs after performances.
Chad said, "I had this raw talent but little training, but it was good enough to propel me through many bands. I got a chance to work with some of the best musicians in Michigan, I did some studio work, and was in two touring cover bands that traveled the US"
"The lifestyle was tough, which I did for a living for six out of the eleven years after
High School before I joined the military at 28 years old."
After 7 years in the military, 14 years of marriage, 2 children, and a master's degree, Chad decided to go back to what he loved now that he doesn't have to rely on music to pay the bills. However, this time he is focused on vocal training. He is a student with the Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy where he is dedicated to development and technique.
Over the years his bands have opened shows for Asia, Night Ranger, Quiet Riot, and Cheap Trick.
Chad wants to present UFO with authenticity and deliver the intensity that Phil Mogg presented in his finest days of the band. Chad says "See you soon... and hold on tight... it will be Lights Out Chicago!"
Richard Leonard - Guitar / Vocals
Richard grew up in Berwyn, IL as well. He played in a band (Dilligaf) with Eric, Joe and Brian back in their younger days as well as in a band in the Joliet area called "Prodigy". He left the music scene in 1983.
Then it happened. He got a call from Eric in mid 2007 who said "Hey we're putting a band back together". He thought, Joke, right? Wrong! And there they were again. He felt he couldn't ask for a better group of guys to jam with.
Richard married Rosanne, the love of his life for 27 years and has a son, Eric who he says "is the best son ever!"
Eric Preisler - Bass Guitar / Vocals
Eric grew up in the same neighborhood with all of the other band members. Some he
has known over 35 years. His music interest began with the accordion at age 5, a couple
years playing violin with the school district orchestra in grammar school, then picking up the
bass guitar in his late teenage years when his buddies wanted to get together and jam.
Starting out as one of the original members of "Dilligaf" back in the late 70's, and
playing with other area bands including "Backstage" - "NRG" and "Conflict" in the early 80's,
25 years later after raising a family all it took was a few phone call's to start it all over again.
Getting back together with Joe and Rich in mid 2007, finding a Drummer, Keyboard Player
and Lead Vocalist a few years later, paved the way for this teenage rock 'n' roll reunion.
Even though they have been out of touch for so many years, everything fell back into place
after just a few practice sessions. He looks forward to getting out and playing with all of his
talented 'old' and new friends.
Andy Banathy - Keyboards
Back in 1977, the defining point for Andy was buying a Fender Rhodes and Fender Twin amp at age 17
courtesy of his dad to pay off a wager. They had a bet that Andy could not win the Technic Trophy 3
times needed to keep it forever. Now with Rhodes in hand, Andy joined the High School garage rock
band Sabre. This was the start to an epic journey now landing him in Lights Out Chicago.
Andy grew up in Skokie attending Niles West High School. He played Sax and Trumpet for the school
band and studied piano at the renowned Allen Swain Studio in downtown Evanston. Sabre was his first
rock band playing songs from Styx, Zeppelin, Uriah Heap, Foreigner, Doobie Brothers and even UFO. The
band was popular at High School dances especially Niles West.
College years were a different era. Andy latched on to May Raines and the Southern Express country
band. Now he was playing Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Reba McEntire, Alabama and David Allen Cole. The
band had moderate success including backup for Marshall Tucker Band at Summer Fest 1984. Then
Andy's life took a turn south to Dallas Texas in the mid 80's. His employer at the time, Texas
Instruments, formed a big band. Andy got the gig. He immersed himself with great Jazz standards.
During the 90's, Andy had some interesting projects with The Chromatics, Sun Flurry, Random Access
and others. However, his playing tapered off at the end of the 90's. But back in 2003, Andy returned to
the music scene with the Average Joe Band. He has also worked with other working bands like Twist of
Fate and Mistaken Identity as well as the house Keyboard player at Marks House of Rock in Wheeling.
Andy was back to playing major events and clubs.
It has now come full circle. Andy is again playing the music he first picked up as a teenager. He may not
look the same when he was teenager but deep down the playing and passion is way better now thanks
to the fine musicians of Lights Out Chicago.