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First Person

Gary Cherone takes mini-break from Extreme for a new album

The Malden native — best known as Extreme’s frontman and a onetime Van Halen singer — releases an album, “Retrogrenade,” with his band Hurtsmile and brother Mark on guitar. 

Marc Lacatell

Hurtsmile is a band I do between the cracks of Extreme. Hurtsmile’s new record will be released October 7, and we’ll do a record release party and some regional gigs. Then I’m going out to LA to write with Extreme. I’ll come back and do more touring with Hurtsmile before Extreme gets on the road, most likely in the springtime.

With Extreme, I spend more time with those guys than my actual brothers. I don’t know if I could be in a band with any of my other brothers, but with Mark, it’s easy. He grew up watching my bands and borrowing my records. We speak the same language musically. He was in a band called Flesh; it was ’90s rock. Good band. 

[When Extreme split,] it wasn’t a bad breakup; it wasn’t a bad marriage. Before I had chance to mourn, I got the call from Van Halen [to serve as singer]. It was a great way to mourn! The guys in the band would call me and say, “I can’t believe you joined my favorite band.” We grew up on Van Halen and Aerosmith; Extreme was the bastard child of those bands. I handled it pretty good; the nights it bothered me were the nights I wasn’t 100 percent onstage. You’d see those loyal Dave [Lee Roth] fans giving me a hard time. But what, I was not going to take the gig?

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“More Than Words” opened the door for Extreme. We were on a club tour in Europe and we’d call home to friends and family and they’d be, “We’re sick of looking at your face on MTV.” If it weren’t for that song, who knows what the trajectory would have been? Rock fans were into us, and that’s one thing, but that song took us into the mainstream. “More Than Words” put Extreme on the map.    

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HEAR HIM A party to mark the release of Hurtsmile’s Retrogrenade is Saturday at Mixx 360 Nightlife in Malden. Tickets: $20. 781-324-7120; mixx360.com

(Interview has been edited and condensed.)