GARY CHERONE Talks About EXTREME Reunion Shows, His Time With VAN HALEN

Kay Hanley of The Phoenix recently spoke to singer Gary Cherone about the upcomining EXTREME reunion shows and Gary's time with VAN HALEN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

The Phoenix: It seems like the [EXTREME] break-up was pretty acrimonious, from what I've read and heard. How did you guys bury the hatchet and get rehearsals going?

Gary: "Good question. First, a joke. We'll never have a 'Behind the Music: Extreme' because we were too boring. There were no drugs, no sleeping with ex-wives, no drummers imploding, none of that. I think it was a combination of a few things, or one thing that took about 10 years to simmer, because we really never discussed it over the years, and it had to do with publishing. But the thing that broke up the band was really simply that Nuno [Bettencourt, guitar] wanted to move on. We wrote some great songs together, but he was coming into his own as a songwriter, and he had things he wanted to say. I remember the day he just called up and said, 'What would you think about me leaving the band?' I said, 'It would hurt, but I can't keep you here if you don't want to be here,' and that was it. It was amicable. There really was no fight. Nuno moved on. I wanted to keep the band together. But before I had time to mourn, I was in VAN HALEN within three months. So everybody thought I quit the band to join VAN HALEN."

The Phoenix: That brings up another question. When I told people I was interviewing you, everybody asked about the VH1 "Reuniting the Band" show because you guys were one of the only bands who refused to do it. The perception was that it was Nuno — like everybody else seemed down for it and Nuno was not . . .

Gary: "They never tell the story like it really was. I think they showed me being interviewed first and I wasn't first. Pat was first. They ambushed me. I was a little taken aback. I thought I was being 'punked,' and the first thing I said to those guys is, 'It's not gonna happen.' And they said, 'Would you do the interview?' I said, 'Come on . . . I'm building a house.' So we went up there and spoke about everything. So then they said, 'Well, we're gonna interview Paul.' But I said, 'It's not gonna happen.' It wasn't because we weren't gonna do it: we were already talking about doing our own reunion at the time. So we were already planning on doing something and, not to get too much into some of the sensitive laundry, but we were dealing with that thing that was simmering . . . things having to do with publishing. It was just bad timing on VH1's part. I remember Nuno saying to me that as far as VH1, he didn't do the interview because they ambushed him . . . and, you know, I'm not gonna put my band together on their time."

The Phoenix: I remember you lived with Eddie's [Van Halen] family, and Eddie really had your back. But you took a beating from critics and even a lot of fans. Did you perceive that?

Gary: "Every waking hour! I wish I'd toured with the band first, just doing their greatest hits, and then gone into the studio and rolled with them. Then I think I probably would have been accepted. But I do think it made me a better singer. And it made me a better performer, because it wasn't like EXTREME, where you were preaching to the converted. With VAN HALEN, every town we went to it was 'Gary Cherone: Mr. More Than Words.' And for me was like, 'Okay, all these radio jokes . . . after the show you'll all be apologizing.' So I used it as a motivator. EXTREME's been hit with the 'More Than Words Band' for years, and that's what used to drive us a lot of the times. So I look back, and maybe it was foolish to have that as a motivator but, you know, whatever it takes."

Read the entire interview at ThePhoenix.com.

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