The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
The Rockpit 2013 Interviews EXTREME's GARY CHERONE




Extreme is on the way to Australia, and what a lot we have to talk about with main man Gary Cherone...


Whenever I here the song (It's a) Monster by Extreme I am transported back to the days when Rock music was still fun and everyone had a good time: but EXTREME weren't just about the party and was a band that always had more depth than most.

In 2008 on their comeback album Extreme proved they still had it with the excellent 'Saudades de Rock'. Now they are on their way downunder with Ritchie Kotzen in tow...


Mark: Hi Gary, it’s Mark from The Rockpit, in Australia.



Gary: Have we met before?



Mark: We did bump into you very briefly at Rocklahoma in 2009.



Gary: I thought you were going to say 1988 or something!



Mark: I saw you guys back then but never got the chance to meet you back in the day. It’s great that you are coming over to see us in Australia. When was the last time you were here? Have you been since the Van Halen tour?



Gary: No, Extreme was there in 1993, and I was lucky to be able to come out with Van Halen in 1998, so we are long overdue, no excuses! We had better play well!!



Mark: Yeah, I think it will be an amazing show, with Richie Kotzen. Have you guys played with him before?



Gary: No, we’ve chatted a few times, last time we were in New York, and I remember we were  doing an event, but we all jumped on stage together, but who knows in Australia, man, I’d love to play with Richie, he’s tremendous.



Mark: It's certainly a great package and is attracting a lot of interest here. What can we expect from your show, are you going to mix it up a bit? I hope we get to hear some of your last album, which I find hard to pronounce, (Saudades de Rock) which blew me away, and the single “Star”, is probably one of my favourite Extreme songs so far, and sadly, it didn’t get the airplay it deserved, so are we looking at some hits and some new stuff?



Gary: Blame Nuno for the album title!!  Yeah, obviously, we are very proud of “Saudades”, it had been thirteen years since the last record. Some of the performances on that record, I think, were some of the best we have ever played on record, and it goes without saying, the guitar work on tracks like Star is amazing. But, as far as the tour goes, of course we are going to do the catalogue of songs people know. We’ve always leaned towards pushing the band, I don’t think we’ll lose the audience by playing too much new material, but, we’ll do stuff off “Saudades” and we’ll probably have a new song or two as well.








Mark: That will be great. For me, after such a long break, when you did actually release that album in 2008 it delivered. I think sometimes you anticipate a new album from a band that has been in hibernation for a while and sometimes it disappoints, but yours sounded like it came from a band that were refreshed and rejuvenated, and had benefited from a break.



Gary: Thank you for liking the record. But, that’s what we found, we had always kept in touch throughout the years, and we played together, but to come back and do new music, once we got back on tour we felt like a new band! We were approaching a new record and we had a catalogue, we did some of the older songs, and we were very proud of that record, it didn’t sell much, but as far as the criticism and the reviews, most of them were positive, so we were happy with that.



Mark: It is a great album, and then the live album in 2010, with the live DVD, was great as well. As a band, I first heard you back in the UK with “Decadent Dance” and “Get the Funk Out”, which both charted over there, it was in your face and fresh. I guess though that you will always be associated with the ballads, “Hole Hearted” and “More Than Words”. How do you look back on that time, the “Pornograffitti” days? How do you think the music has stood up over the years?



Gary: Good question. Looking back, listening to the records, as far as production, it’s the consensus of the band that the first two records, some of the songs hold up as far as arrangements and song writing, but the production is what makes it difficult to listen to. The production on the records, “III Sides “, “Waiting for the Punchline” and “Saudades”, I can go back and listen to those because the production holds up today. Whereas on” Pornograffitti” some of the big drum sounds and the reverb, and the tripling of the vocals, it dates that time and period in music. We came out in the hair metal scene, but I wouldn’t call us a hair metal band, there was a level of funk, and groove in our music.




Mark: Yeah. I have listened to those CD’s again over the last couple of days, and there are some great songs, and was hoping you would re-record them one day! “Monster” is one of my all-time favourites; the riff is just up there with the best!



Gary: Yeah, the riff, and the solo are ferocious!! If you saw the 2010 DVD, Nuno is unbelievable!



Mark: We actually went to see him, last time he was over; he is also a pretty good singer.



Gary: Absolutely! If you listen to “More Than Words”, people don’t realise, it’s almost like a duet, with those intertwining harmonies. He doesn’t think he’s a good singer, but we all do.



Mark: Apart from the new album, I think my favourite is “III Sides to Every Story”, which was praised by fans and critics alike. What have been some of the high points in your career so far?



Gary: If you look at the Extreme catalogue, I think” III Sides” was the pinnacle. We were finding ourselves on the first record, “Pornograffitti” was a continuation of what we did in the clubs for eight years, and we found our stride with that sound. “III Sides” was experimental, I was proud of the indulgence in that record, with the orchestra and the concept, and we grew up on those records. For Extreme to do something like that was something I look back on with pride.




Gary: Also, a big highlight with Extreme was when we did the Freddy Mercury tribute Concert.



Mark: Yes, the Queen medley you did there was amazing.



Gary: Yes, it was definitely a highlight. Extreme have played a lot of great gigs in a lot of great places. We did a gig in Ireland, on our 2009 tour, and a gig in Amsterdam, where the crowds were just phenomenal! But, the fact that the Freddy Mercury gig was so big, and as a band we played well that day, because you never know, you can do a bad night in a club and no one cares, but do it with the whole world watching, it stays with you for the rest of your life! We were fortunate enough to have a good gig collectively as a band.



Mark: I think that opened you up to a whole new audience as well.




Mark: As we're pushed for time I'll just ask you one question on this band, how would you sum up your stint with Van Halen?



Gary: In short, it was great; it seemed surreal that I was in the band, three years, a record, a tour. I could focus on being the third singer and all that, but Eddie and the guys embraced me, they were behind me because they knew what I was in for! It was fine, we toured Australia, and those were the first shows, so there was anxiety, but touring with those guys was a trip. It made me a better singer and performer, singing some of the “Sammy” stuff, some of that was out of the range, but it challenged me to reach the heights with my voice. I look at it; it’s great to have on your resume, when you’re looking for a job!!



Mark: I remember them being inducted in to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Michael Anthony thanked you at the award ceremony, which was great.



Gary: Yeah, it was very sweet, he actually called right after that and said “you are part of that” which was nice, we keep in touch.
Mark: Yeah, he is a nice guy. Talking about influences for a second and I know some of them are quite obvious; you toured with a band called SlipKid for a while, with your brother, were The Who the band for you?



Gary: They were a huge influence, personally. Extreme were influenced by Van Halen, Aerosmith and Queen, and then individually Roger Daltrey was such a huge influence growing up, that genre was so influential and powerful. My brother and I had a side project called Hurtsmile; we were just going to do a tribute called “Who’s Next!” We were going to do a local show in Boston, and by the time we got to rehearsals and picked the guys to do the show, there was too much material, so we ended up doing stuff off Quadrophenia, but The Who were huge for me.



Mark: I think bands like The Who and Queen are just so much bigger than their contemporaries, they have that extra dimension. Is there anything more planned with Hurtsmile?



Gary: Thank you for asking. We are recording a second record, which is about half way done, and later we’ll be touring, I don’t know if we’ll get to Australia. But by the time extreme finish in April, we’ll put something out on the internet, so you can hear some stuff, and we are excited about it.



Mark; If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any piece of music or album, in the history of rock, what would it have been and why?



Gary: That’s very tough! I’d have to go with Queen; Extreme met everyone but Freddy, so, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for maybe Queen II, or even the later one Innuendo, some of the vocals on the last Queen records, I don’t know where Freddy was coming from vocally. I’m sure if there’d been a fly on the wall in the Queen studio, I’m sure one of them would have swatted it dead!!



Mark: I think probably you are right!! Are there any final words you have for Australia?



Gary: We are long overdue, and we do apologise, but I can guarantee the band will be on fire!! We are looking forward to it, and playing for our fans.



Mark: it’s been great to speak to you; I could go on for hours, so thank you for taking the time, and we’ll see you in April.



Gary: Please introduce yourself; we’ll get a chance to meet after the show, and thank you.






By Mark Diggins January 24 2013




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