Having to cope with the title "runner up" is a tough pill to swallow, add to the fact that it was seen by millions of people and it would seem almost unbearable; unless, you are an exceptionally inventive, confident musician with a stellar rock band of your own to support you. The Rock Star INXS reality series may be long over but the grandiose reality of second place winner, Marty Casey, is just getting started.
"Life's great!" reports Casey, "I'm traveling across North America with my buds, pretty much my best friends for my whole life, so life's good". Marty's "buds" would be brothers Dino (bass) and Bobby (drums) Kourelis along with Billy Sawilchik (guitar). The Kourelis brothers and Casey have known each other since playing T-ball in grade school. They all bought instruments taught themselves to play and have been performing since junior high. Billy Sawilchik was added to complete the foursome in 1995.
Being together for over fifteen years, the Lovehammers have endured "a lot of fist fights and a lot of beers," laughs Marty. "We've definitely had our share of problems but the luck of this band is that we've always been on the up and up. There's always been upward trajectory. We've never hit a point where there has been a down slope. We've always had more people show up for shows. We've always had better albums out, consistently, after every record is produced. We've just always been on the rise. I figure as long as we're on the rise we can stick it out."
The Lovehammers are definitely on the rise, scoring a record deal with Epic and releasing their debut self titled album in January not to mention working with hot producer, Steve Albini (Nirvana). Having just come off a tour with INXS, an experience that Marty describes as "A really fun ride. There was just so much hype around all the shows. The Rock Star INXS show had just ended, it was always the hottest ticket in town and it was just a real joy to be part of that ride. It felt like a bullet being shot out of a gun and we were just trying to hang on and enjoy the ride."
Riding on that momentum and new fan base, Marty Casey and the Lovehammers have been headlining their own live tour since July. "This is definitely a landmark moment for the band. We've worked so hard for so many years and had the privilege of doing great opening slots. Doing a headlining thing, a real deal, there's something really special about it that's overwhelmingly positive and it's going great. We didn't know what kind of response we would get. The show ended a year ago and reality T.V., no matter who you are moves on very quickly. We had to work with what kind of impression Marty Casey may have made and that fan base and work that into what the Lovehammers have developed. It's been really overwhelming. Hundreds of people are showing up every night, whether it be a Monday or a Saturday. They know all the words to the songs and they come bearing gifts and ribs and lasagna and socks and underwear÷it's crazy and it's really fun," states Casey.
Although, Casey lost in his quest to be their lead singer, he is quick to point out all he learned from that experience and from one particular member of INXS; "Andrew Farris, the songwriter. I look at the foundation of a band as different support beams. There's the one who charges into battle, the one that's always positive, no matter what's going on, and the libraryish in any group, the songwriter, the heart and soul of the band is the songs. For me I found that to be Andrew Farris and I really gravitated towards that. He was gracious and kind enough to be like an open book and answer any question and give me advice on songs. He knew I took a really aggressive interest in it and with him, finding out how you can write so many great hit songs. I think there were like twenty-five that him and Michael (Hutchence) had written. I really gravitated to Andrew and figuring out what kind of secret formula there was to writing hit songs and he had no problem diving into it with me." If the reflection of the songs on the new CD is any indication, it would seem that Casey is an astute student and Mr. Farris should be proud. Marty describes Lovehammmers music as "gutsy, sexy and very hopeful music. The lyrics are always very hopeful. The scenario of every song leaves a positive energy and I think that 's what people really grab on to."
Being a product of reality T.V. as Marty says, "It's what created me. I owe it," he's also a fan of the new Rock Star Supernova. He may not be able to catch the shows but his family keeps him up to date and he does have his favourites, "I like Lucas, the Canadian, and the girl, it begins with a "D" (Dilana), I know those are the two hot tickets because everyone is talking about them. But I do also like the dude, Toby, I think he's strong but I don't know if he's right for the band." "I don't know if he's quite right for the band," reiterates Casey in his best Aussie accent, reminiscent of his days with INXS.
The one thing Marty Casey took away from his stint on reality television was to "take risks and be ballsy in rock 'n roll!" So, leaving your day job (Casey was a successful real-estate appraiser) and the only band you've ever played with to go on a new reality show that may destroy any hopes of you ever being taken as a serious artist, isn't risky?
Having had the privilege to attend the one Canadian date on their tour, Marty Casey and the Lovehammers need not ride the coattails of any reality show. They're gusty, intense, electrifying mix of eclectic modern pop rock with Marty's raw emotional and intangible magnetic stage performance will leave you sweaty and spent from the high energy show÷.and that's a reality they can be proud of!
For more information on the Lovehammers visit www.lovehammers.com or www.marteycasey.org.
Writer: Lisa Kerr