Ranger Sound LLC

Run For It, Marty!

| February 1, 2006 | 15 Comments

Marty Casey & Lovehammers
Star Time

Hanging out with his buddy in a swank Hollywood pub recently and buying rounds of drinks for all his newfound bar friends, Marty Casey was feeling — if not on top of the world — then pretty damn close. Letting the relaxing effects of alcohol wash over him, he casually stepped outside into the evening for a cigarette. One puff later, all hell broke loose. And Casey’s cloak of cool disappeared in a scared-straight heartbeat.


As Casey tells it, it felt like a SWAT team had suddenly descended on the joint. “They nabbed us,” he confesses. “And it was a very black evening, man — they gave us hell. They were like ‘You’ve got this exciting opportunity — why would you wanna fuck it up? Why would you wanna do this?'” Granted, it was rather embarrassing to be cornered, practically cuffed in front of all your new drinking buddies. But truth be told, Casey and his accomplice, J.D. Fortune, had it coming — they’d brazenly broken the first rule of the reality TV series in which they were appearing, “INXS — Rock Star,” a prime directive that stated Stay On The Silverlake-Mansion Compound. Although Fortune would go on to win the grand prize — frontman position for the singerless Aussie outfit INXS — and Casey would come in a close second, earning him opening-act rights for the current INXS world tour, the pair came dangerously close to getting the boot that fateful night.

“But me and J.D. figured that it was something we wanted to kinda prove to INXS,” rationalizes Casey, who also wound up with an Epic recording contract out of the deal. “We wanted to do it, just to say we did it, and we actually thought that they’d think it was funny. And eventually, when we got more familiar with ’em, they were like ‘Yeah, that was cool.’ And for me and J.D. from then on, it was kinda like ‘Well, ya know, fuck the rules now! Any old time!'”

How did the daring duo make its escape? It wasn’t easy, Casey sighs. The home base for “Rock Star” was “this $30 million estate, all ornate with amazing views. We were sitting on the highest point in the Hollywood basin, and you could watch the sunsets from this unbelievable place. And you got full rein — they never told you what to do, there was nowhere you couldn’t go.” With one major exception — just don’t leave those walled-in grounds. For Casey and Fortune — who’d grown restless crooning the required classics, INXS covers, and their own originals week after week — the show might as well have painted a big exit arrow on the lawn, pointing the way out.

“And it was hard as hell to get outta there,” Casey recollects. “We had to jump the wall, and it probably took us 45 minutes to get out. Then we just ran down the big old hill and eventually found a bar and just hung out. Hung out for as long as it took them to find us. And they had over 100 people scouting for us, looking everywhere in the neighborhood just to find our asses. But we couldn’t believe we were actually out — it was the only second we weren’t under someone’s thumb.”

Fans of Casey’s Chi-town outfit Lovehammers shouldn’t fret — the singer hasn’t gone all big-time Hollywood. He’s kept his original outfit intact (guitarist Billy Sawilchik; bassist Dino Kourelis; drummer Bobby Kourelis), although he’s contractually obligated to record as Marty Casey and to tour as Marty Casey And Lovehammers. Through regular concert exposure and — hopefully — chart-climbing success of singles like the anthemic “Trees” (a track premiered on “Rock Star”), the vocalist plans to earn the right to be dubbed simply Lovehammers again. Not that he needs to — songs from the group’s last album, Murder On My Mind, have already wended their way into the soundtracks for TV shows like “Starting Over,” and films like Greener and Communication Breakdown. As Casey puts it, “We feel lucky to be here and we’re gonna work with it. The band knows that everything is split equally; we all have equal presence, and I’m no more important than they are in the grand scheme of things. But I think after throwing my name around on a $40 million show, it’s really hard to just divert away from that, hard to convince the powers-that-be that that is the correct move.”

How did this beanpole-thin blond with the ghostly-pale skin wind up on “Rock Star,” anyway? Through a serendipitous series of events, he says. First, a friend emailed him info saying INXS — backed by TV impresario Mark Burnett — would be holding Chicago auditions for someone to replace INXS’ late leader, Michael Hutchence. Casey dutifully applied, strapped on an acoustic, and slammed out several Lovehammers tunes. Unfortunately, the judges said, they weren’t looking for a new guitarist. Undaunted, he returned the next day, weaselled his way back in, and performed “an early, rudimentary version” of “Trees,” plus INXS’ “Listen Like Thieves.” “I went ballistic on it, a cappella, just kinda showed ’em what I had,” Casey says. And that was just Round One. He also had to enroll via DVD, then jet out to Santa Monica for a grueling nine-day audition for the band, host Dave Navarro, and Burnett his badself. All in all, Casey reckons, “It was a series of about five months of searching.”

The first time he met INXS officially, Casey adds, was when he walked on set to tape the series premiere. It wasn’t a heavenly pairing. The kid started slow, with the band and Navarro reprimanding him for his forceful stage belting. Gradually, though, he won them over — plus a screaming throng of female fans from the in-house audience. His most difficult assignment was not, as you’d expect, his delicate rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” which seemed to finally tip the scales in his favor. “The toughest one was the Britney Spears song, ‘. . . Baby One More Time,'” he assesses. “I knew if I fucked up the Britney song on a reality show, it would’ve destroyed any hope for a career afterwards. Because that would’ve been my calling card.” Casey toyed with the idea of replicating Travis’ ethereal take on the track, but changed his mind. “I love Travis, but I’m a totally different animal — I’m a lot more moody and intense, at all times. So I didn’t let my guard down on that — I went really moody with it and it worked.”

Anyone who caught “Rock Star” would have to admit the damned thing was unusually addictive. And who knew former wildman Navarro would have matured into some wise, old, advice-dispensing sage? Casey agrees: “I had no idea what to expect outta Dave. But he was kinda the rebel behind the scenes that nobody knows about. I mean, we had no outside information whatsoever. But he was the one who would tell me to stay, don’t start changing, and don’t let people tell me what to do. And I just actually recorded an acoustic version of “Trees” with him this past week, and he put a killer solo on it. Just hanging out with him in the studio was an awesome day.”

What did Casey learn from INXS? A whole new way to express himself, he swears: “What I understood before the show was the way that I can show emotion onstage was just by going crazy, and then people would understand that I’m really into it. But from INXS pushing me in different directions and kinda challenging me, I learned that you can have the same range of emotions by just a vocal delivery. And that was a big moment for me. Trust that your voice is gonna connect with people, don’t rely on tricks and lights and pyrotechnics. Trust that your voice is compelling enough that you can move people just by singing — you really don’t need anything else.”

A deal with Epic Records can’t hurt, of course. Plus an opening tour slot with that band that you almost joined. Not bad, figures Casey (who still keeps in touch with fellow “Rock Star” finalists Jordis and Susie). Not bad at all. “I think everything turned out quite perfectly,” he concludes. “J.D. loves that band. I mean loves ’em. And that’s not necessarily the way I feel about the band. I mean, it’s in his blood, whereas I’ve been in a band, I write my own music, and I have a whole different trajectory. The universe has an interesting way of giving you exactly what you need, so everything has turned out great for everyone.”

Tom Lanham

Appearing: February 4 at Chicago Theatre (175 N. State) in Chicago.

Category: Features, Monthly

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Comments (15)

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  1. Fabiansparkle says:

    ROCK ON LOVEHAMMERS!

  2. chicks says:

    I just love you guys,you all just fit together so well.Seen you in atlanta,blew me away.Love a hammerhead.chicks

  3. LovehammeredInChicago says:

    Marty Casey is the real deal. The only real rock star to come out of that show. Talent personified; he’s a one-of-a-kind, amazing performer with charisma and sex appeal. A star is born….

  4. Nicole says:

    I love this band. They have great passion and exelent song writing skills! Can’t wait for your new CD(s)!!

  5. Marty–hope things are going well for you and that you and your band are collecting millions of fans (like me)along the way. Can’t wait til you have another tour on the west coast so that I can see you live again. I run to your new CD all week and it inspires me to go longer and faster–quite a feat! Love you and your music.

  6. Sunnyt says:

    Great article! I never tire of reading about Marty and RSINXS. I was so addicted to the show and now love the band! I have L’Strange , MOMM and the new MC&LH! Hope to see you on the new tour! You guys are a great talent.

  7. Rikki says:

    Good article…I had wondered if there were any repercussions when you guys snuck out. On another note, I would have never watched “rockstar” as I’ve never been a inxs fan but happened to be flipping the night you sang Lithium. Thought you were awesome and was hooked. Bought your CD when it came out and have followed you ever since. Trees is o.k. but I really love The Tunnel. Lastly, you need more presence on the West Coast. I live in Nor Cal and never hear you on the radio…not sure why??
    Anyway keep it coming…you guys are great!

  8. angie says:

    Great article! Lovehammers rock! They are simply amazing musicians and their live shows are incredible. The music?! LOVE IT! The old stuff & the new stuff–I cannot get enough of it. The newest CD kicks ass…such a variety of songs from the past and present. I am a fan for life.

  9. jessica says:

    i went to atlantic city great show then the big bang cbgbs what a night got back stage met the guys got like a 10 minute sit down with marty and he even thanked me in his diary for the gifts i gave him my life will never be the smae there music woke me up thanks guys i am out of my coma

  10. jessica says:

    i also want to tell you guys keep it up i have lstrange,demolition,how we live,ultrasound,mclh,momm,oh and all your rock star songs on cd but i want more more more lol. i have to say i think i like ultrasound the best if i was to pick just one

  11. sherri bean says:

    Marty, I think you are amazing, Ilove your music, your look, your style and charisma. I bought your CD, love “trees” I am hoping you are coming in concert near here soon, I live in Asotin Washington, so spokane or pullman hosts most of our concerts so please come soon so I can see you live. love your friend, sherri

  12. I,m so happy to keep hearing your great news,love the CD and hope to see you in concert soon.

  13. Liz says:

    More Marty Casey & Lovehammers please!!!!! How about a music video Epic?

  14. Jenny says:

    The Lovehammers Rock!! I just got back from Memphis where they did a kick-ass show!Marty hung unside down from the stage towers during Tunnel. It was awesome.

  15. itybits says:

    Just saw Marty at Schuba’s last weekend—-Love…love…love his new songs!!! And his beautiful rendition of INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart

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