'Rock Star' on the rise

After one reality show and more than 15 years as a band, the Lovehammers have made their way into millions of homes across the globe--and landed themselves a major-label recording deal.

Lead singer Marty Casey won over fans on CBS hit summer show "Rock Star: INXS" by transforming from a screaming stage performer to a singer with quiet strength. (INXS picked Canadian J.D. Fortune to front the band; Casey took home second place.)

Now Casey's back with bandmates Billy Sawilchik, Dino Kourelis and Bobby Kourelis, recording new material for their self-titled release, "Marty Casey & Lovehammers" (Epic). The album's set to drop Jan. 24, just days after they kick off opening INXS' Switched On tour.

We caught up with Casey while he was in L.A. Though the Lovehammers won't deny the TV show catapulted their careers, Casey says they're ready to move forward as a band again.

What have you guys been up to since 'Rock Star' wrapped?

There's been no time for the four of us to reflect or look back. There's been so much--almost too much--to do every day. It's more like a bullet was shot out of a gun, and we're all just trying to hang on to it. But I like it because there's no second guessing then. And that's why I think the record is great, because it had to be done so fast.

How's the attention from new fans?

Although it's extremely overwhelming, we're enjoying it. I'm not going to be bashful about that. I really enjoy the attention; I'm a lead singer. I have lead-singer syndrome. I enjoy massive amounts of attention. [Laughs]

How was it working with Dave Navarro?

The guys were really for it. I think we understand all that the show has done for us, and we're trying to capitalize and parlay that into a successful career for the band. The track with Dave Navarro acoustically was something that was featured on the show, although that's not going to be on the album that you buy. That's going to be a special track.

What will you play on the INXS tour?

A portion of this record is stuff that we've already released and kind of redone, and then a portion of this record is stuff that's never been released by the Lovehammers, and a portion of it is stuff that I've just written since the show has ended. So it truly is the full vision of the Lovehammers: past, present and future. There are absolutely no rules for this tour. And every night's going to be different.

Any plans to move to L.A.?

I think right now the four members of the Lovehammers are homeless. We're living on a tour bus. We're Chicagoans. [Laughs] There's no changing that ever.

I'm sure you'll enjoy coming back to our cold winter weather.

[Laughs] I can handle it. I've spent my whole life there. My blood ain't thin yet.

What's on Lovehammers' Christmas list?

To have a platinum record by the end of 2006. One million records sold. Right now it's not about wishes, it's about goals. That's our goal.

Karen Budell is the metromix nightlife producer.

Story originally published Dec. 14, 2005.

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