Gary Cherone of Extreme
In 2008, after 13 years apart, Extreme reunited for their ‘Take Us Alive’ world tour, which covered 75 cities and a handful of continents in support of their latest release “Saudades de Rock”. On the last night of the tour in their hometown of Boston, the band took the stage in front of a sold out crowd at The House of Blues to record what would become their “Take Us Alive” live dvd/cd release that came out this week (May 4th).
The band in its current line-up (Gary Cherone on vocals, Nuno Bettencourt on guitar, Pat Badger on bass and Kevin Figueiredo on drums) took the energy of the entire tour, bottled it and let it all out on stage that night in true Extreme fashion– forever captured for Extreme fans to enjoy for years to come.
Committed to making new music and not just a one time “reunion” tour, Extreme is already working on new music and looking forward to sharing it with their fans in the future. A few years ago “the future” of Extreme didn’t seem like much of a possibility but a lot can change in a year!
I recently had a chance to talk to frontman Gary Cherone about the band reuniting, their recent tour with RATT and “Take Us Alive”.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
You just released the “Take Us Alive” cd/dvd package. Why did it take so long for Extreme to release a live DVD/CD package?
Well the band was gone for 13 years so when we got back together in 2007 to record what became Saudades de Rock we knew that once Extreme got back on the road we wanted to start to document it. Moving forward we will document all recording and touring. Looking back it is pretty amazing that we didn’t release a video of us live but the time never really seemed right like it does now with “Take Us Alive”.
Did Frontiers release “Take Us Alive” as a single live DVD and 2 CD set sold separately or as one package with both?
Separate – single live DVD and companion 2 CD live set sold separately. After having listened to it I’m thrilled with the mix and the final version which is coming out May 4 here in the States. Throughout the years all I’ve ever heard are bad live recordings, bootlegs, now we have You Tube, so it’s nice to be able to sit down and listen to something without that fear of a bad mix or a bad night of vocals! Also on this release are 4 videos to songs off Saudades de Rock all produced by Nuno. They are a nice addition for the fans as there really isn’t an outlet any longer that plays music videos of real rock n roll bands. “Run” was filmed during the Japan tour. “Ghost” was filmed in a church in New England. “King of the Ladies” was filmed at a back yard barbeque in Hudson, MA and “Interface” was filmed in Portugal. I think the set list we did that night was a great representation of our entire career trying not to focus on one era or one period of the band’s history. It’s a nice balance of all of our records.
Was Boston the first and only choice Extreme had for a city/venue when the time came to document this tour and show?
Yeah I think so. It worked well that Boston ended up being the last show on the tour and it just made sense. All of the shows with RATT were great. Hampton Beach in New Hampshire (the night prior to Boston) may have been the best night of the whole tour! The House of Blues has a great stage and I’m glad after having now seen it that we did film there. We knew the tour was over and we got to leave everything out on that stage on that night with no regrets.
What was it like to tour with RATT during the summer of 2009? It’s a shredder paradise with Nuno, Warren DeMartini and Carlos Cavazo all on one bill for one ticket price!!
It was a really great experience. I really didn’t know the guys in the RATT camp that well. Nuno and Warren were good friends but beyond that it was new territory for all of us but we all hit it off quite well. I wasn’t sure what the RATT fans were going to think of us since we never toured together before and by the same token I wasn’t certain how the Extreme fans were going to react to RATT but in the end it’s great rock n roll and great songs, that’s the bottom line and it worked out great. Most of the shows were loud, crazy, nights and I wished the tour had lasted longer and hit more cities than it did.
With Nuno committed to working with Rihanna at least for the remainder of this year are you still writing new Extreme music and will there be another Extreme record?
This was never a one and done reunion type commitment we have to this band and to each other. It’s not about nostalgia and a trip down memory lane. When we got back together it was important that we put out new material. We wanted to be like a new band all over again and we were in a sense with the addition of Kevin on drums. Nuno and I are writing separately (for obvious reasons) at the moment. We have always used that method in the past so nothing’s really changed much from what we have always done. It doesn’t feel any different. When the time is right the four of us will get together, see what we have for material and work it out as a band for some more new music!
What can you tell us about Hurtsmile, a project that you’re involved with along with your brother Mark? I heard Still Born, Just War Theory, and Painter Paint on MySpace and they sound really heavy.
The time seems right for this project right now. I’ve been working with my brother Mark, Dana Spellman on drums (who also plays in my Who tribute band Slipkid) and Joe Pessia on bass guitar. Joe worked with Nuno in the Drama Gods (also called Population 1) and also plays guitar in a band called Tantric. With Nuno out on the road with Rihanna for some extensive touring this summer I have written some more material with my brother Markus (in addition to the tracks you have already heard) and we are about 75% done recording and we plan to finish up soon and have it released by the end of the summer. We hope to film a few videos and maybe hop on a tour who knows? I have always maintained a certain level of that school of philosophy of keeping busy which will take nothing away from Extreme and what are plans are for the future of the band.
There seems to be a current trend in the rock n roll touring world of acts playing entire albums from beginning to end. An anniversary of a benchmark recording in a bands history or in some cases playing songs that may have never been done before. Any future plans that Extreme may follow suit with something similar?
Yeah that’s a great point. The 20th anniversary of “Pornografitti” is this year which did spawn our biggest hits “More than Words” and “Holehearted”. We did toy with the idea of doing a string of dates to celebrate this by playing the record from beginning to end but right now I’d say it’s a long shot. It all depends on the touring commitment Nuno has with Rihanna and how long she stays on the road. But in the end even if we miss the 20th anniversary in 2010 that doesn’t close the book or the possibility that we wouldn’t do it in the future. We even talked about bringing in some horns and adding them to the live show.
Gary is there a band that Extreme would love to tour with that you haven’t yet?
There are always bands out there that you want to tour with but timing is everything in this business. When the band got back together one band that we wanted to play some dates with was Kings X. It was nice to be able to play with those guys in 2008 when the new CD was released. The one band that I would love to tour with is Cheap Trick. I think an Extreme/Cheap Trick bill would be awesome!! I was recently in New York on the Eddie Trunk radio show and Mike Portnoy made a surprise guest appearance and we talked about the possibility of an Extreme/Dream Theater run. Again timing is everything and I’d never pass up an opportunity to play with Aerosmith again!!
In 2006 you released” Videograffitti” the definitive Extreme video collection from the first album right through and including material from “Waiting for The Punchline” (1995). There was also live material as bonus tracks – one from Wembley Stadium UK 1993 and a few others from Hammersmith Oden UK from 1992. Was there a live video planned for that time period and does the remainder of that live footage still exist?
We did record 2 nights at the Hammersmith Oden and it was going to a movie documentary on the band back in the day. It never materialized and I think it had a lot to do with management changes and budgets. We are sitting on a gold mine I think because those shows were shot very well and came out great. Those shows were recorded during a time when the band was exploding in Europe and we had a lot of momentum.
Do you have any parting words or a message to the Extreme fans out there reading this?
We apologize a 1000 times for taking so long to finally release a live home video. We are excited about this because in a way it extends the Saudades de Rock tour and the momentum gained on that last tour. We wished we had hit more markets more shows. We wish we had stayed out longer but this is a way of doing that for the fans both older fans and new ones as well. The band is writing, the band is stronger than ever and we will see you all very soon!