Lukas Rossi passed on reality show first time around


Danny Moloshok/associated press file pHOTO


Rock Star Supernova, fronted by Lukas Rossi, seen here with Tommy Lee, plugs its debut CD tonight at Massey Hall.


Lukas Rossi initially said no to a shot at potentially becoming the lead singer for Rock Star Supernova.


In its inaugural year as Rock Star: INXS, the Mark Burnett-produced reality TV series for CBS ultimately awarded Canadian J.D. Fortune his spot as front man for Australian rockers INXS through a series of auditions against some serious competitors. So when casting was sought for last year’s second Rock Star instalment, rumours were floating around that Van Halen had been the mystery band wanting to use the series to search for a new lead singer.

That message was first relayed to Rossi through Barbara Sedun, vice-president, creative, of EMI Publishing Canada and with whom the Toronto-born singer-songwriter had a publishing deal at the time.

“My second band Rise Electric was breaking up when I got a call from Barbara saying there’s this show looking for singers,” Rossi said. “I didn’t watch the first series because I didn’t know about it at all. So when she explained that Van Halen was the band seeking a singer, I said, ‘Why would I want to do that?’ So I turned it down.

“A week later, Barbara phoned me up and said, ‘Well, actually, the band is (Motley Crue drummer) Tommy Lee, (ex-Metallica bassist) Jason Newsted and (ex-Guns ‘N Roses guitarist) Gilby Clarke. I immediately told her, ‘Fuck yeah, that show I’ll do.’ But I didn’t have any money to fly out to L.A. And she said, ‘Look, I’ll pay for it. Just go out there and do it.’ “

It was the chance of a lifetime for Rossi, who served time in local outfits Cleavage and Rise Electric and had his hand in co-writing, singing and playing with various Canadian bands including I Mother Earth, The Tea Party and Edwin, as well as U.S. alt-rockers Papa Roach.

“I’m a kid from the street. When it comes to the street, I know everything there is to know. And sometimes that can be a better thing,” Rossi says of his years growing up in the Jane-Lawrence area of Toronto. “I wasn’t extremely book smart. Most people go to school to figure out what you want to do in life. I already knew — I already had my eye on the prize.”

That attitude prevailed when Rossi auditioned for, and eventually won, his spot as front man. And even though the show is well behind him, the 30-year-old — who’s now touring with bandmates Lee, Clarke and, filling in for an injured Newsted, ex-Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt — did take away some schooling, if you will, on working with others.

“I learned a lot about people and how fragile they can be,” Rossi says. “Especially when you’re thrown in a house with a bunch of strangers who are forced to live with each other. And have that common goal of winning — which could’ve been a recipe for chaos. Thank God that’s over with.”