LAST EDITED ON 09-23-05 AT 12:54 PM (EST)
By Maureen Ryan
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 21, 2005, 6:45 AM CDT
In the end, Chicagoan Marty Casey was not right for INXS.
Swivel-hipped belter J.D. Fortune was chosen by the Australian rock band to be their lead singer on the Tuesday season finale of "Rock Star: INXS."
Casey, who grew up in Hickory Hills, did get a consolation prize: The band invited Casey and his band the Lovehammers to open for them on INXS' upcoming world tour.
"I can't say I wasn't disappointed not to get the gig, it's what I came here to do, but it seemed like it was meant to be," Casey said in a phone interview after taping of the "Rock Star" finale ended Tuesday evening. "I'm still part of the INXS family, but with a different twist."
During the run of the CBS show, which saw its ratings increase markedly in the key 18-49 demographic, Casey debuted an original song, "Trees," which became a fan favorite, but in truth, didn't have much in common with INXS' pop-funk.
"My concern going into this was that my music is a little different than their music. J.D. seems like he's in the same style," Casey said, who competed against Fortune and Australian Mig Ayesa in the finale. "I totally respect INXS' decision, it is their band and they've given me so much."
For Casey, the next few weeks will be about reconnecting with friends and family and trying to get a record deal for his band.
"I'm being told how much this has changed my life, but I haven't stepped outside into the civilian world for weeks," said Casey, who spent Tuesday evening with family members who flew out to Los Angeles for the finale. "My family doesn't treat me any different, but a lot of people ask me for autographs. That is completely different for me, but I'm a lead singer, I love attention."
So what's it like hanging out with INXS?
"It's like hanging out with your buddies. There's so much youthful energy with those guys, they're so upbeat. They're so positive, they're about, 'Let's work really hard, and then let's party really hard.' They have a good time, but they get the job done first. Get the job done, there's no celebration until then. They're hardworking Australian dudes, that's why they are so successful. They were not overnight successes, they developed over 12 albums. They worked their off."
Do you think part of the reason the show's ratings grew was because it was not about ripping people apart?
"I 100 percent agree with that. It wasn't the same old, same old. It was 15 extremely talented people getting a once in a lifetime chance with INXS and Dave Navarro, who were trying to make you better, not taking shots at you. It wasn't about unneeded drama, it was about getting the best out of each singer.
"You can see that in the monumental songs we got to do, 'Wish You Were Here' was never done on TV except for a benefit after 9/11. That shows you how much artists respected the show, what we were allowed to cover -- it was not about drama, it was about singers trying to give great performances."
Did you ever get any feedback from bands whose songs you covered?
"I heard Pink Floyd liked my version of 'Wish You Were Here.' That was enough for me. I mean, Roger Waters saying he liked it... it doesn't get any better than that."
So you think the competition turned out for the best in the end?
"If you would have told me that 24 hours ago, I would have told you you're crazy. Still, there's a silver lining in this tour with INXS. I get to tour with INXS in a different way, I get to open for them. It really worked out to be perfect for me, I get to be part of the INXS family but with a different twist.
"I can't say I wasn't disappointed not to get the gig, it's what I came here to do, but it seemed like it was meant to be."
I actually wondered if your songwriting style would fit in with what INXS wanted to do.
"My concern going into this was that my music is a little different than their music. J.D. seems like he's in the same style. I totally respect INXS' decision, it is their band and they've given me so much. It is their band. I have grown so much, they are so wise. I can't complain about my experience here, it's been amazing. Even though J.D. is going to be the lead singer of INXS, they're still helping me out."
When does the tour start?
"I think New Year's Eve."
How long have you been with Lovehammers?
"Half my life, since we were about 15 years old. . We had no idea what we were doing when we started. was me coming to a point where I thought I had to step outside that fold a little bit and see what I had going on on my own.
"Lovehammers' version of `Trees' is apparently on some chart somewhere, it's crazy. It was in a drawer somewhere . Now the band is blown away, they can't even keep up with the amount of sales they're getting."
How did you feel when it was announced that J.D. Fortune would be the winner?
"I just threw my shoulders back and took the bad news. I didn't want to be the sad guy in the corner. I put a smile on my face, because it was his moment. It was nothing to do with me. I give props to him, he did what he came here to do."
It seemed like the singers had their ups and downs but were pretty tight, is that really the case?
"That's the honest truth, we were tight. People have their ups and downs, artists tend to be hot or cold and creative people tend to be kind of moody. We had our moments, we had some arguments, but we were really trying to help each other too."
"What's happening for me now is that I want to take a bit of time and step back and see what the big picture looks like without being in it. I don't even know what happened at this point in my life, it's all been a big tornado . I've got to figure out what's happening. I've got that Midwestern backbone, I'm hardworking. I want to figure out how to parlay this into a record deal for the Lovehammers. I'm not really one to slow down, so I'm just going to go with the momentum.
"It's been such a positive experience, there are minute things I would change here and there, but really, it's been amazing. I lost, but it's okay."