I was a BIG fan of a short-lived reality TV series called Rock Star. It was a talent show in which wanna-be rockers performed only rock music, kind of like American Idol – only with cooler people and cooler music. So, let me briefly summarize that awesome show’s two season run …
Rock Star was created by Mark Burnett (who also created Survivor and a dozen other reality shows) for CBS, and was hosted by Dave Navarro and Brook Burke. The first season, Rock Star: INXS, aired over the summer of 2005. 15 contestants competed to become the lead vocalist of Australian rock band INXS, whose singer, Michael Hutchence, died in 1998 (of auto-erotic asphyxiation). The two finalists were J.D. Fortune and Marty Casey, and INXS announced Fortune as the winner. But, in 2005, INXS was irrelevant so, in truth, Fortune lost.
The show, for me, was about the journey [the weekly performances], not the destination [being crowned the new singer of an irrelevant rock band].
Some of my favorites, other than Marty Casey, from season one, included Suzie McNeil (whose 2012 album Dear Love is a pop masterpiece!) and Jordis Unga (who went on to compete in season two of NBC‘s The Voice), and beauty Tara Sloan (ex-Joydrop). I, obviously, loved the female rockers!
The second season, Rock Star: Supernova, aired over the summer of 2006. 15 contestants, this time, competed to become the lead vocalist of a supergroup featuring Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe) on drums, Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses) on guitar, and Jason Newstead (Metallica) on bass. The two finalists were Lukas Rossi and my favorite of season two, South African Gothic/punk Dilana. Rossi was crowned the winner because, I’m sure, Tommy Lee didn’t want a female to front his new band, but, the supergroup Rock Star Supernova, despite being produced by Butch Walker, failed miserably, so, again, the winner actually lost.
The journey not the destination, remember?
Dilana, in 2009, released the amazing rock album, InsideOut. But, I think, no one, except me, listened to it! Some of my other favorites, from season two, included Storm Large (whose autobiographical 2009 album, Crazy Enough, and its corresponding 2012 memoir, are excellent), Toby Rand (whose Australian alternative rock band Juke Kartel is pretty damn awesome), and sexy Jill Gioia.
Season three never happened. Yet. But, I’m still holding out hope, even though Dave Navarro just finished up hosting the third season of really cool reality show Ink Master on Spike TV, with a fourth season set for next summer. My daughter and I love that show!
On my blog Rock Chicks Rule!, I posted about Suzie McNeil, Jordis Unga, Dilana and Storm Large. Read those posts by clicking on each the artists’ names. But, I didn’t get a chance, on that blog, to post about Marty Casey because, well, he’s a dude, so …
Chicago-born Marty Casey worked as a real estate appraiser while chasing his rock dreams with his band Lovehammers, until landing a spot on Rock Star: INXS, and, even though he didn’t win, he walked away with a major label deal (at least for one record)!
Much was made of Casey‘s slight resemblance to Kurt Cobain, and his music with Lovehammers shows that the similarities extended beyond his appearance. He performed Nirvana‘s “Lithium” on the show (but, nearly every contestant, in both seasons, performed a Nirvana song, at least once), however, the judges were really impressed with his rendition of Pink Floyd‘s “Wish You Were Here”. The judges were also impressed with his original, “Trees”, which garnered a lot of rock radio airplay because of the show.
Marty Casey‘s post-Rock Star self-titled major debut, as Marty Casey & Lovehammers, included “Trees” and “Wish You Were Here”, as well as 10 other awesomely melodic post-grunge alt-rockers hanging in Kurt Cobain‘s shadow, especially on tracks like “Straight As An Arrow” (which is very “Breed”-ish) and “Call of Distress”. But, the incredible ballad, “Clouds”, is worth the price of admission! The melodic lead guitar solo sends chills!
Four songs on the major debut, including “Clouds”, were re-recorded versions of songs that appeared on Lovehammers‘ previous independent release, Murder On My Mind, which was much rawer, as if it were recorded live in the studio. But, Casey didn’t re-record that disc’s strongest track, “Say You’re Sorry”. Sure, “Clouds” was cool on Murder, but, it was amazing on the debut, so I can only imagine what “Say You’re Sorry” could have sounded like. It could have been Lovehammers‘ breakthrough hit!
Sadly, as interest in Rock Star waned, Casey was dropped by the majors, but, he marched forth, independently again, and released an excellent follow-up as just Lovehammers, Heavy Crown (2009), which was filled with more amazingly tuneful grungy alt-rockers and angsty ballads.
Lovehammers returned in 2012 with Set Fire, which is possibly their best yet. “Price I Pay” (with 2 versions), “Open Up Your Eyes”, “Shine On”, “Going Crazy”, and “Get Out” are all alt-rock hits waiting to happen (but, that probably never will). Also, on this disc, is a badass cover of The Who‘s “Baba O’Riley”.
Watch the video for “Price I Pay” here: