HURTSMILE – Is That A Retrogrenade In Your Pocket..?

By Carl Begai

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Long before Extreme wrapped their Pornograffitti Live! World Tour celebrating the album’s 25th Anniversary this year, vocalist Gary Cherone was well into the second album from his other band, Hurtsmile. Entitled Retrogrenade, it’s the follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut from 2011 which was, by comparison, much harder to get into even though it does boast some memorable songs. It’s no accident Retrogrenade plays out as it does, being that Cherone and his brother Mark (guitars), Joe Pessia (bass) and Dan Spellman (drums) have finally hit their stride as a unit and no longer worry about people saying they sound like that “other” band on occasion.

“I think this is a better record than our first one,” says Cherone. “There were a couple songs on the first record that stuck in your head, but Retrogrenade is more melodic and I think the subject matter is more universal. There were more contributing elements on this record and everyone was more involved in the songwriting. The first album was mainly me and Mark. It’s a case of the band developing as a group, so thank you for saying that because it’s very encouraging.” Continue reading HURTSMILE – Is That A Retrogrenade In Your Pocket..?

EXTREME – 25 Years With Francis, Suzi, And The He-Man Woman Hater

By Carl Begai

There are two sides to Extreme’s Pornograffitti success story. On the one hand you have ‘More Than Words’ – arguably one of the greatest ballads ever written – made popular the world over by lovesick teenagers, lonely househusbands / wives, and socially inept business people everywhere. On the other side you have the fanbase that devoured the ‘Kid Ego’ stomp and ‘Play With Me’ shred of Extreme’s self-titled debut and wanted more. Those of us in the second group weren’t prepared for what hit us when Pornograffitti was unleashed, however, as it sucker-pounded us into a mindblown state by the time ‘Get The Funk Out’ raised its middle finger four songs in. Designed as a concept record, Pornograffitti took the listener on an trip through the realms of metal, rock, rap, Queen, Sinatra and everything in between, amounting to full-on theater for the ears and mind.


Pushing twenty-five years later, Extreme has taken Pornograffitti on the road for a 25th Anniversary tour, playing the album from front to back as the first hour of a two hour show to packed houses. Given the storybook aspect of the record one would think turning it into a complete live set would be a no-brainer, but that wasn’t the case according to vocalist Gary Cherone. Nope, a lot of thinking was done before it became a reality.

“Someone brought it up in 2012,” he says, “and I remember going to those rehearsals thinking ‘Is this gonna work? Going in chronological order, ‘More Than Words’ is the fifth song…’. I didn’t want to do Pornograffitti in order but Nuno (Bettencourt / guitars) and Pat (Badger / bass) convinced me to do it. It worked in rehearsal but I couldn’t get my head around sitting down and doing ‘More Than Words’ as the fifth song in because we usually do it later in the set. Like the record, though, it works as a show because there’s a flow. I admit that I was wrong.”

When Pornograffitti was released it was unlike anything Extreme’s hair-band peers were doing, making it stick out like a sore thumb to anyone on the scene paying attention. It’s a milestone in the band’s career, and it resonated with the die-hard fans long before ‘More Than Words’ took over the world.

“‘More Than Words’ obviously struck a chord with people, but that happened nine months after the release,” Cherone reveals. “We were writing for III Sides To Every Story, the Pornograffitti record was dead, we were touring Europe and getting ready to do the third record, and all of a sudden ‘More Than Words’ took hold in Denver and started to connect. Quoting Nuno, the Pornograffitti record is where we found ourselves. On the first record we were our influences – Aerosmith, Van Halen – and on Pornograffitti we discovered what we were. There are monster riffs on the record; Nuno is out of control (laughs).” Continue reading EXTREME – 25 Years With Francis, Suzi, And The He-Man Woman Hater

GARY CHERONE – Service With A Hurtsmile

By Carl Begai

There are interviews where it feels like you’re getting together with an old friend. The conversation comes easy, there’s plenty of common ground to stand on, and a sense you only spoke yesterday even though it may have been years (in this case, 14 of ’em) since your last go round. This was one of those interviews. Therefore, I’m going to shoot the requirements of professional journalism full of holes by making this personal; the on-the-level formal portion of my discussion with Extreme / Hurtsmile frontman Gary Cherone can be found on the BW&BK site here.

Settling in to discuss the self-titled Hurtsmile debut, Cherone is well aware of the comparisons being made to Extreme. Given his signature vocals the lines being drawn come as no surprise, but one has to wonder if Cherone ever had to re-think his in-studio delivery because the songs sounded too much like Extreme material.

“I think it was the other guys, when we were recording the album, if I did something melodically or put a harmony in somewhere, it was either Mark (Cherone / guitars) or Joe (Pessia / bass) that would reference and Extreme track. I’d look at them, scratch my head and go ‘Yeah, you’re right…’ (laughs). That was going to happen, obviously. I’d agree that there are some similarities. The vocals, the harmonies, or just the guitar orientated aggressive rock n’ roll that you’ve heard from Extreme. I guess that’s a nod to the guys I play with in both bands. Nuno (Bettencourt / guitars) and I can get crazy, but we can also get crazy by ourselves, too.” Continue reading GARY CHERONE – Service With A Hurtsmile

EMILIE AUTUMN – Teacups And Trials: 34 Minutes At The Asylum


Pulled from the wreckage of her shattered-to-bits favourite teacup, Emilie Autumn quickly proves she’s more than just a pretty face with a sarcastic wink. Delightfully off-the-wall and refreshingly candid, the self-styled Victoriandustrial vocalist / songwriter / performer is an interview that demands you bring your “A” game and a genuine interest in what she does. She picks your brain as you pick hers, goes off on tangents that offer valuable insight on her artistic drive, and has no problem taking the piss out of anyone, herself included. Within the first few minutes of discussion it becomes clear that Emilie Autumn’s image – the hair, clothes, make-up, barbed online prose, stage show; everything right down to the pasties – is the real deal. There’s no striving for Alice Cooper / Marilyn Manson shock value, no calculated controversial remarks nor turn of bare thigh to keep the goth community entranced just a little longer. What you see is most certainly what you get.

“There’s not a damn thing contrived about me,” Emilie says of her image, which most fans and naysayers quite logically assume gets shoved into the closet when the curtain comes down. “I often times wish that it was and that I had a much more normal life, but I don’t. I can’t lie to you, I tone it down for the stage (laughs).”
Continue reading EMILIE AUTUMN – Teacups And Trials: 34 Minutes At The Asylum