Extreme is an American rock band that achieved popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some of Extreme’s influences, Queen and Van Halen (the latter of which Gary Cherone would eventually join and later leave), are readily apparent from their music’s multi-part vocal harmonies and electric guitar tone and instrumental techniques. The band lends the listener a sound that blends the genre of glam metal with the shredding guitar work of thrash metal. Being asked about their style, Extreme categorized their music as ‘Funky Metal’.
Extreme has released four studio albums, two EPs (in Japan) and two compilations since its formation. The band was one of the most successful of those from the early 1990s, selling over ten million albums worldwide. Extreme rose to fame with its 1990 release Pornograffitti, which peaked at Number Ten on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold in May 1991 and 2x multi-platinum in October 1992. That album also featured the acoustic ballad hit single “More Than Words”, which reached Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the United States.
Extreme was formed in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1985. Vocalist Gary Cherone was in a band with drummer Paul Geary, and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was in a band with bassist Pat Badger. Following an altercation between the rival groups over communal dressing rooms, Cherone, Geary, Bettencourt, and Badger decided to form a new band.
Cherone and Bettencourt began writing songs together and played numerous shows in the Boston area. The band gradually developed a strong local following, and was named “Outstanding Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act” at the Boston Music Awards in 1986 and 1987.
The band had accumulated approximately 55 songs by the time A&R director Bryan Huttenhower signed them to A&M Records in 1988. The band then recorded their self-titled debut which was issued in 1989. The first single was “Kid Ego”, a song that Cherone would later admit made him cringe. The final track on the album, “Play with Me,” was used as the “mall chase” song in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Moderate sales of Extreme’s first record were sufficient to support a second release. Michael Wagener, who had previously worked with Dokken and White Lion, was engaged to produce Extreme II: Pornograffiti (1990).
The record, which showcased Bettencourt’s extraordinary guitar-playing prowess, was an ambitious and complex mixture of funk, pop and Glam metal sounds. It revolved around a loose concept, following the path of young boy Francis as he wandered through a decadent, degraded and corrupt society. “Decadence Dance” and “Get the Funk Out” were released as singles. “Get The Funk Out” reached Number 19 in the UK charts in June 1991. Neither single was successful in the United States, however, and the album had fallen off the charts when A&M sent the third single to a number of radio stations in Arizona.
The acoustic ballad “More Than Words” entered the Hot 100 on March 23, 1991, at Number 81. It later became a huge smash, hitting Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the United States. The subsequent single, “Hole Hearted,” another acoustic and sweetly-sung tune, was also successful, rising to Number Four on the same popular music chart.
The band began recording of their third album in 1992. Their appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992 interrupted the recording sessions, but it gave the band considerable exposure beyond the heavy metal fraternity. III Sides to Every Story, a complex, eclectic and ambitious concept album, was released on September 22, 1992. Sales were disappointing despite the record receiving critical acclaim from some quarters. The video for the first single, “Rest in Peace,” was inspired by a film short by the National Film Board of Canada called Neighbours. The band was sued, but they quickly settled out of court, later releasing a new version of the film clip. The album contained noticeable Christian themes, presumably put there by Cherone, who noted in interviews being interested in evangelical preachers and thought.
Prior to the band’s appearance at the Donington’s Monsters of Rock festival in the summer of 1994, Michael Mangini (ex-Annihilator) replaced Geary (drums), who left to pursue a career in the business side of the music industry, managing successful acts such as Godsmack.
The subsequent record, Waiting for the Punchline, released on February 7, 1995, containing the singles “Hip Today”, “Unconditionally”, and “Cynical”, was less successful than III Sides to Every Story. In 1996 Extreme disbanded on amicable terms.
In 1997, Gary Cherone joined with Van Halen for their album called Van Halen III, issued in 1998, only to leave the group in 1999 and later form Tribe of Judah, which released an album called Exit Elvis in 2002. He recently was working on solo material to follow up to his 2005 EP released under his own name.
Nuno Bettencourt went on to release a solo album titled Schizophonic in 1996. Then formed a group called Mourning Widows and released a self titled album in 1998 and then the follow up album, Furnished Souls for Rent, in 2000. His group called The DramaGods (aka Population 1) have had two albums released, the first being a self titled album Population 1 in 2002 before a name change to DramaGods saw them create their follow up Love in 2005.
A thirteen-track Extreme “best-of” collection, The Best of Extreme - An Accidental Collication of Atoms was released in 1998. A re-packaged collection with a different track listing was also released in 2002 and was simply titled Extreme - The Collection.
Extreme reformed for a short tour in 2004, playing in their hometown Boston at the WAAF anniversary and a few concerts in Japan and Azores. After no activity at all in most of 2005, the band returned in 2006 - with the “classic” Pornograffitti line-up - to do a small three-show reunion tour in New England.
On November 26, 2007, the band announced their plans for a world tour in Summer 2008 with King’s X as well as a release date and label for the new album, Saudades de Rock, produced by Bettencourt. Kevin Figueiredo, who played with Bettencourt in DramaGods and Satellite Party is taking over drum duties. Original drummer Paul Geary is still involved with the band, albeit in a management position. The album has finished production and has a new single available on their MySpace entitled “Star”. Saudades de Rock is due for release on August 12, 2008.