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Daily Splash: Marty Casey of Lovehammers has a tale to tell

Marty Casey

Marty Casey

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Updated: December 6, 2012 6:07AM

If you have ever played sports as a kid, you can recall the day you went to your first practice and met the cast of characters on your team. Our baseball team was the Giants, and that was an ironic name for a bunch of 9-year-olds hitting off a tee. For the first half of the season I couldn’t play; my appendix had been removed that spring, and the doctor told me not to swing a bat for a few months or my wound would tear like the stitches off a Babe Ruth grand-slam baseball.

When I could finally play, I was behind the curve in terms of my skills. Two brothers on the team with shaggy jet-black hair — Bobby and Dino — were always cheering me on. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship that years later would take our band Lovehammers around the world, performing for crowds of more than 30,000 people.

There is a level of confidence we have built as a band because we have persisted through the highs and lows of a music career. When we signed with Epic Records in 2005, we felt we had finally made it — our hit single “Trees” was quickly rising up the charts. We were deciding on a theme and a producer for a big music video, and picking out what color tour bus we wanted. But two weeks before the release of our album, the president of Epic — who was a huge fan of ours — left the label to become chairman of Columbia Records. With his departure, our entire support team at Epic was let go.

Suddenly this intricate house of cards fell around us, and it was absolutely devastating. It had taken us 10 years to get to that right place/right time/right song, and now we were back at square one.

I imagine most bandmates would have thrown their arms up at that moment and quit. But we are all from the Southwest Side of Chicago, and nothing has ever come easily; we grew up in large families that toughed it out through hard times and always made it to the next paycheck.

We decided we had to learn to rely only upon ourselves, because the rug can’t get swept from under your feet when you weave it into your bones. We started a record company called REEP Records (Record Executives-Everyday People), we built a studio (Hammer Studios) in Bridgeport to record our albums, we hired a radio promotions team and a full-time publicist and we tapped into all the relationships we have made over the years with good people in the industry to help us get a leg up. And you know what? It’s working.

This is the first time our band has recorded, produced and released an album on our own. In the past, we have always had some level of outside influence from labels, A&R reps, producers and managers in assisting in the direction of the band and the songs. The new album, “Set Fire,” is the hardest-hitting album we’ve ever delivered. No lyric was toned down because of a manager’s input and no guitar solo was removed at the request of the label wanting the song under three minutes for radio.

Back in the day, Dino would take a baseball bat and pretend it was a guitar, Bobby would bang on a few batting helmets and jam a drum beat and I would hang from the chain-link fence and sing our favorite songs. Everything has changed, but then again, absolutely nothing has changed... and I wouldn’t wanna see it any other way.

Marty Casey donated his fee for writing this column to Elements of Nature Fund. “Set Fire” will be released on Nov. 20. The album’s first single “Into the Insane” is available on iTunes tomorrow.

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