We chat with the competition: MiG Ayesa

Dave NavarroMichael HutchencePeter FramptonDeath

Chicago has Marty mania as fans follow their hometown hero in the race to lead INXS, but Marty Casey has two contenders to face at the finale of "Rock Star: INXS." We caught up with Australian native and London resident, MiG Ayesa, 35, in a phone call from the rockers' mansion in the Hollywood Hills to find out why he thinks he's the right fit for the band.

What went through your head--you were standing there with the possibility of going home--when you heard you made it through to the finale?
I think for me it was a sense of relief because that was the first time I ever had to sing for survival and I was stressing out. I felt like I really thought I was going to be going home because I thought there's no way they're going to be sending J.D. or Marty home tonight because of the response for their encores. And I thought that Suzie McNeil was a shoe-in because she's the only female left, and I thought they would have the female in the final. And I looked around and the only one left was me, so I was convinced I was going to be the one going home. So when they said MiG, we want you to sing "What You Need," I thought 'Alright, well I'm just gonna do whatever I can to show you that I can sing INXS songs.'

It was only after I finished--the crowd response was absolutely phenomenal and they just wouldn't shut up for minutes it seemed--so I thought, 'Well, maybe I'm not going home.'

I wonder if any of the screaming was in response to the fact that you did an impromptu shirt-ripping, Mr. MiG. Could it have had anything to do with your "MiG-pack"? And by the way, what is your workout regime?
[Laughs.] Cut it out. That's hysterical, that's hysterical. Well, I did make sure I did some kind of exercise every day. It's as simple as that. If you seriously want to know, you seriously want to know? I make sure that I eat as much fruit and vegetables as possible, so I stuff myself up on the good stuff first before I go into stuff that I know I'm going to love like puddings and meats and pasta. ... And also I make sure I do a bit of exercise every day, whether it be running or going to the gym or doing some kind of activity. It has to be some kind of exercise every day. ... That's it. That's the MiG regime.

What's your favorite performance you gave on the "Rock Star" stage?
Funnily enough, the favorite performance I ever gave would be "What You Need" in the last elimination show. I feel that was the point of like, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I felt like I did it with complete and total abandonment, like I don't even remember what I did kind of thing, like the shirt-rip thing. ... That would possibly have to be one of my best of my favorite performances. But I did enjoy doing "Baby, I Love Your Way" by Peter Frampton. I must say that was a favorite of mine to just sit down at the piano and play that beautiful piano with a string quartet there at my disposal. That was a very special thing to do, and it was emotionally connected with me.

If you win, do you think touring the world as the frontman for INXS would affect your marriage?
Nothing can affect our marriage. [MiG and wife Simone have been together about 5 ½ years and married for about 3 ½ years.] My wife is the single greatest support that I have in this whole world, and in fact, it was her idea that I do this. She's the one that said: 'You better go for this, you're exactly what they're looking for, and you should do this.' ... She's a dancer and actor herself ... she understands what it's like to be in this business. You have to be away a lot. The best thing about leaving this house is at least I can call her everyday if I need to. Here, we're only allowed three phone calls a week, and that was the hardest thing out of everything. But at the same time, [Simone and I] don't know where we're going to be. We've been in London for three years, but we might think maybe we should move to L.A. ... So if she can tour with me or be with me then she will. You just have to make it work, that's the way it goes.

What sets you apart from the other finalists to make you the right man for the job?
Apart from the obvious things, like I'm Australian, and my name is actually Miguel--MiG is short for Miguel, which is actually Michael in Spanish. And the fact that also my birthday is Jan. 12 and Michael Hutchence's is Jan. 22; and he was born 1960, I was born 1970. Apart from all those obvious things, I think that INXS are looking for a real team member ... I think I've shown time and time again that I'm a team member ... I'm a very generous guy. And what I'm bringing to the table is that I'm a very experienced performer. I've been in bands for 20 years, I'm been writing my own stuff for 20 years, I've been on stage since I was 15. ... They will never have to worry; I'm never gonna let them down. As well as that, I think that I'm not a bad performer on stage at all. It seems that J.D., Marty and myself are all completely different performers, so I'm walking into the final thinking that it doesn't matter how well I perform; INXS will know who they want when they see us.

What do you think you have working against you as you move into the finale?
I'm coming into the final as the underdog, I really believe that. I haven't really had a strong performance, or a strong, great reaction from INXS or Dave Navarro for quite awhile. I've been trying and experimenting with my song choice and song selection and performance mode for the last few weeks to let INXS know what I do and show them what I think they want. And I haven't really had a strong performance, whereas Marty and J.D. in the last few weeks have really just gone from strength to strength to strength. I feel like my greatest moment was halfway in the competition and since then it's been like sort of coasting at times. ... I've really gotta make sure that when I do this performance that I'm giving nothing but myself, because that's the only way that I feel that I can perform best: if I just forget about trying to think what they want from me and actually just make sure I give who I am.

What are your favorite INXS songs?
I've always been a fan of songs like "Need You Tonight," "What You Need," "New Sensation." But there's some old stuff as well which they don't really play very much. One of my favorite songs was "I Send a Message," and that's from the album "The Swing." And if I ever get into INXS I'm going to try and convince them to do that again because I've done that song acoustically with my band in London and it was great, everyone loved it. The catalog is so huge and diverse; it'd be nice to give a lot of the old ones a bit of a go as well. I think also songs like "Elegantly Wasted" and "Don't Lose Your Head" are amazing tracks as well. They're not the most well-known songs but they really are definitive of INXS style.

What did you sing at your INXS audition?
I did sing "I Send A Message," when I auditioned in London.

What's one of INXS' critiques that you've really taken to heart, and how has it helped you grow?
There's one thing that Jon Farriss and Gary Beers said; it was after I did "Live and Let Die." They said, 'That was all great and everything, um, but we feel like you're singing through your nose a bit.' ... I listened to it, and I do a lot of songs that are really very high and I've got a very high voice, but the way I create that sound ... I do sound sometimes nasally. ... Ever since then I've been working with our vocal coach, Roger Love, and trying not to sound nasally when I'm signing, especially the high bits, and I feel I've been able to conquer that. ... My technique has completely changed.

Out of the other rockers, who would you be most interested in in working with in the future?
Ty Taylor is probably one of the greatest vocalists I've ever worked with in my life. I can't wait to actually meet up with him after all this is over. And if we could work together on a project then I'd be more than happy to do that. Also, Brandon Calhoun has a completely unique style. He's an amazing performer and his style is incredible; I'd love to be able to work him. In fact, he and I clicked musically very, very easily. And Deanna Johnston, she's got an amazing voice. We worked on a couple songs together and I get her style very much and I'm a big fan of hers.

Thanks for talking to us MiG. We're all looking forward to the finale.
It's always a pleasure to talk to you. And I can't wait to visit Chicago. Marty's told me so much about Chicago and he's going to show me around so. Very soon I'm going to be making my way over there and checking out the Windy City for myself.

When it comes to "Rock Star: INXS" info, we've got what you need; this is what you need:
• New sensation: Chicago's Marty Casey is a hit
• We chat with the competition: MiG Ayesa
• We chat with the competition: J.D. Fortune
• Jam session: Dave Navarro dishes
• You asked Marty; now he answers

Karen Budell is the metromix nightlife producer.Originally published Sept. 20, 2005.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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