Marty Casey & Lovehammers Biography
Last updated: 03/16/2006
MARTY CASEY - VOCALS
BILLY SAWILCHIK - GUITARS
DINO KOURELIS - BASS
BOBBY KOURELIS - DRUMS
When Marty Casey was named runner-up on the hit television show Rock Star: INXS, it only meant he wasn't going to be a member of INXS; there was no doubt he was already a rock star. Of course, anyone who has seen Casey and his band Lovehammers perform over the last five years (or heard any of their four self-released albums) already knew that. INXS knew it as well, and they invited Casey & Lovehammers to join them on their upcoming tour.
The group (lead vocalist Casey, guitarist Billy Sawilchik, bassist Dino Kourelis and his brother, drummer Bobby Kourelis) approached its self-titled Epic/Burnett Records debut with the confidence of a band used to winning over audiences. After all, their albums have sold more than 25,000 copies without a label or distributor, and their sweaty, electrifying performances have made them one of the Windy City's most popular live bands. They recently amassed a few million new fans thanks to Casey's remarkable run on Rock Star. Over the course of the hit series, Casey's intense and infectious performances made him a fan favorite and his hook-laden single, "Trees," was a No. 1 download on MSN.com. That amplifies a resume that includes gigs opening for such diverse artists as Nickelback, Jerry Cantrell, Interpol, Puddle of Mudd, and most recently, Cake and Gomez on a 21-city tour. In 2004, their DVD Live/Raw debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard DVD chart.
"We always wanted to have our shot, to step up and do it on a larger scale," says Bobby Kourelis." Adds Dino: "We always believed the songs were there. It was just a matter of getting them heard."
The material is certainly there. The Lovehammers write songs that grab you with a loud crunchy guitar riff, surging melodies and Casey's powerful and emotive voice. With the exception of "Casualty," which was written after "Rock Star: INXS" wrapped, the album was drawn from the Lovehammers existing repertoire. While this is their major label debut, Marty calls it "OUR greatest hits record." The roster of producers who have lined up to work with the Lovehammers is proof that they're ready for their close up. "Straight As An Arrow" was recorded by Chicago legend Steve Albini (Nirvana), with Marty Frederickson (Aerosmith, Mick Jagger) and Johnny K (Staind, Disturbed) manning the mixing board on additional tracks.
And of course, the album features "Trees," the undeniably infectious Marty introduced on "Rock Star," and host/ex-Jane's Addiction/Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist Dave Navarro predicted would be a hit.
Pulling together so many disparate recordings into a coherent album might have intimidated lesser bands, but for Marty Casey & Lovehammers it only makes the end result more fulfilling. "A lot of today's records sound the same-perfect tone, same guitar sound," says Casey. "But on some great old-school records-the Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers is one example, every song had a different sound. They'd use a different drum kit, they used different instrumentation." The Lovehammers record, he says is a "total collage of different sounds, different recording techniques. For me, it makes for a really cool record."
Casey says the band wanted to "release something really exciting and raw, something that shows who we are-and we're a rock band without question." The album has the gutsy sound that first got the Lovehammers interested in music. "I want kids in high school to write the name of our band on their notebooks," he adds.
To gain that kind of loyalty takes hard work, and the Lovehammers are ready. For this self-described "working class Chicago band," it's second nature.
"Our background is going to help us in the long run," says Dino. Casey and the Kourelis brothers have known each other since they were kids playing t-ball in the southwest Chicago suburb of Hickory Hills. They started playing together in junior high and went through a number of guitarists over the years. The lineup was solidified with the addition of Billy Sawilchuk in 2002. In addition to being band mates, they're also roommates. The quartet lived in a couple of houses in the Chicago area that had nothing in common, Bobby says, except they were all called the "Hammerhouse" and, after the band left, they were all demolished. "We had nothing to do with that," Casey adds with a laugh, although each house did see more than its share of mayhem. It became something of a Lovehammers tradition for the band to invite THEIR audiences back home for THE after party.
As the band heads toward the next level of its career, Casey promises the show onstage will match their offstage antics. They're already looking into ways to make their stage show more memorable. They may have achieved success on a level most bands can only dream of, but they're not going to rest. "We don't want it to be just four guys on stage with instruments," Marty says. "We're going to keep working our asses off. This is just the beginning!"