Extreme's music resists categories


In the music business, perception is everything.

For the Boston band Extreme, whose music veers mainly toward a funky hard rock style, the release of the single "More Than Words" six months ago was almost a frantic, desparate push for a hit single.

It just so happens that the ballad, which features Gary Cherone's lilting tenor over the acoustic strains of Nuno Bettencourt's guitar, has streaked up the charts to No. 1 and has been the year's most played song on the radio.

Even the title of the album, "Pornograffitti," suggests something other than what should be heard on mix radio.

"The album was sitting out there for six months and at sales and on radio it was hitting a brick wall," said drummer Paul Geary, whose band will open for ZZ Top at the Baltimore Arena Saturday night. "It does make for an image problem, but I think the word of mouth on the band is very good. We would have much rather broken big on a rock track, but we didn't and now we have to give the people who only know 'More Than Words' a little more information about what we're about."

That second step has been the release of "Hole Hearted," a mid-tempo tune that features more of Bettencourt's guitar with band-wide harmonies including bassist Pat Badger.

"We didn't want to go with an all-out rocker so we figured we'd take them a little more toward the center before moving to the right," Geary said.

The next single will be the re-release of "Get the Funk Out," which along with "Decadence Dance," preceeded "More Than Words" with little radio success.

"The important thing is that the music we play, in whatever genre it may happen to be, remains of high quality," Geary said. "There are misconceptions about what the band is but we don't want to be pigeonholed into one category. The record, despite the title, is not about sex, drugs and rock and roll."

Saturday's show will mark the sixth time Extreme has been through the area since the release of "Pornograffitti" August 1990. Geary said that 1.6 million albums and 250 shows later that the band is getting bit tired, but the touring will continue until the good fortunes end.

"Yeah, I guess we could use a break but we've got to run with the ball while we've got it," he said. "We've waited all our lives for this. We've finally got a big year going and this is no time to get lazy."


The concert calendar:

Van Halen will perform at the Capital Centre in Landover on Oct. 17. Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 9 through TicketMaster outlets by calling 481-6000. Alice In Chains will open the show.

The Cap Centre also has booked Luther Vandross (Tuesday and Wednesday) and Tom Petty and The Heartbrakers and Chris Whitley (Sept. 24).

Merriweather Post Pavilion ends its season next week with three shows -- Sting (Wednesday), The Hard Travelers' benefit featuring Barbara Mandrell and The Starland Vocal Band (Sept. 20) and Tommy James and The Shondells, Johnny Rivers and The Buckinghams (Sept. 21).

Hammerjacks welcomes Bullet Boys (tomorrow), Cheap Trick (Sept. 19), King Missile and The Connells (Sept. 20), Big Audio Dynamite (Sept. 21 and 22), House of Freaks and School of Fish (Sept. 28) and Hoodoo Gurus (Sept. 29).

Pier Six Pavilion has Little Feat (Sept. 22) and Kathy Mattea and Restless Heart (Sept. 27).

Max's On Broadway hosts Disappear Fear (Wednesday), John and Mary (Sept. 19) and Allan Holdsworth (Oct. 3).

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