Extreme’s Gary Cherone talks about new album “Retrogrenade” with Hurtsmile

Gary Cherone is best known as the lead singer for the group Extreme who dominated the airwaves in the early 1990’s with their song “More Than Words”. Cherone later went one to front Van Halen for a period of time. In 2007 Gary formed the band Hurtsmile with his brother Markus and the group has just released a new album titled “Retrogrenade”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Gary recently about the new album along with Extreme’s plans for 2014/15.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about the new album “Retrogrenade”?
Gary Cherone: This will be the group’s second release. My brother Mark plays guitar in the group. This album started much like the first one as it was interrupted my tour schedule with Extreme. The first album came out in 2011 and the new one will be out Oct. 6th. I was writing for both projects and also touring with Extreme so because of having to juggle between the various projects this album much like the previous took a bit of time to get done.

AL: Can you tell us about the title and if there is any significance to it?
GC: Naming a record or a band is one of the most difficult things to do. I had a bunch of different titles in mind but this one came in the 11th hour. The album is more in line with the classic rock that I and the other guys in the band grew up with. My manager was on me about naming the record as there were deadlines approaching. I had heard the word retrograde and knew that it had some negative connotations but how I looked at it was I saw the word grenade in it. It ended up being a combination of words as that’s something that I like to do. “Pornograffitti” for example. I emailed the title to the band and it was the first one that everyone liked. That’s what we went with and I think it fits the theme of this record really well.

AL: Did you notice any differences going into the studio this time around as compared to when you recorded the first album?
GC: At this point we are quite comfortable. We did a fair amount of pre-production at mine and Joey’s house. The process was pretty much the same as was the song writing. Mark will bring in a riff and I will scat over it. Joey was a big part of the writing this time around. Everyone really helped with all of the tracks.

AL: Can you describe yours and your brother Marks working relationship?
GC: We don’t throw fists anymore. (Laughs) I probably couldn’t be in a band with all of my brothers but with Mark I could be. When I started my first band he was the little kid in the corner that was always there. He picked up the guitar and went on to become a great player. I think with all these guys we speak the same language. With me and my brother its second nature. We know each other so well.

AL: What sparked your interest in deciding to crowd fund this album?
GC: At first I was a little reluctant. Pat from Extreme was working on a solo project and he was using the site “Pledge”. That was really the first I had heard of this type of thing. Pat was having great success with the program and helped him out by doing a couple videos to promote the project. The last thing I wanted to do however was to dig through my closet for old Van Halen stuff. After talking with my manager we decided to give it a try and it was a lot of fun. I got a lot of cool request to write some handwritten lyrics that weren’t just from songs like “Whole Hearted” or “More Than Words”. We were able to raise enough cash to do the record and a video. I was really happy with the process.

AL: Do you guys have any plans to tour behind the release?
GC: We release this album in October and do some region shows here in the states but then I have to take off for Los Angeles to some things with Extreme. At the top of the year we will be back doing Hurtsmile. We hope to hit some major markets with Pat’s band. I’m really looking forward to getting out there with this group at the earlier part of 2015.

AL: Can you give us an update on Extremes plans for 2014/15?
GC: We are gearing up to head out to Los Angeles to record an album at Nuno’s place. This summer over in Europe we performed “Pornograffitti” in its entirety. There has been a lot of demand for us to do that here in the states so we are working on doing that in early spring which will coincide with the release of the new album. We had a lot of fun playing those songs overseas so we are looking forward to doing the same thing here in the states.

AL: Do you ever find it difficult working with multiple groups?

GC: Extreme is the mother ship. Not to diminish Hurtsmile or anyone else’s projects but Extreme casts the widest net. That band makes it possible for us to do these other projects that we all have. Last year we worked around Nuno’s schedule with Rihanna. We all want to keep busy and everyone supports one another and a number of our projects involve more than one member of Extreme so we all work together.