Listening to 'Schizophonic', it seems a lot more hip in the alternative sense than the last couple of Extreme albums. In our humble opinion, after Pornograffitti, Extreme lost a little panache. There was no way anything could ever top More Than Words or Get The Funk Out and with the music scene evolving into the Grunge-orientated kennel it was, Extreme were almost seen as dogs who had had their day. 'Schizophonic' is then refreshingly different to any Extreme record. Nothing too dramatic but there is much more of a current alternative feel. Black Velvet begins by asking Nuno if it was at all a conscious decision to be more alternative - or at least to be different to what Extreme were.
He replies Well, even with Extreme, I dont think you have a choice but to sort of have somewhat of an influence of the times. I think theres two facets to writing a song. Theres you sitting in your room writing the sentiments of the song; the lyrics, the melody and the changes, and then theres the part where you go into the studio and you put clothing on it. And thats where I think some of the alternative influences come in. I think if you strip it down its very Nuno. Its really what happens happens but yes, I am affected by what is around. I dont think many people would admit that. I think Im a music fan before anything else. I know many people who grew up in the 70s and my generation that stopped listening to anything after 1979 because theyre not into it, but I think its very cool to discover new bands and find something on the radio that you think is so cool that you go out and buy it. Yeah, I definitely get affected by new stuff. Theres a lot of older influences but theres also newer stuff too.
Various Nuno tracks have been compared to bands such as Foofighters and The Lemonheads. It doesnt bother him but he says I dont know about Foofighters. I think Foofighters are a bit of a second generation alternative...I would say if theres anyone that Ive been influenced by its Kurt Cobain rather than Foofighters. But whatever the comparison is, I like Foofighters so I guess thats good. And I think The Lemonheads are good, so thats good too. I think if you put the songs they are talking about side by side with what they are comparing it to they would probably realise that is doesnt sound a lot like it. Or it only has a tinge of an influence in there.
I dont know. Its hard to know exactly what it sounds like to me. Im in the studio and I write it and thats it. Ive had people in my family and Ive had friends who would say Hey this reminds me of and That reminds me of. But when I was in Extreme we had people say This reminds me of Van Halen or This reminds me of..., whatever! Its just a bunch of songs. Im not trying to cure any major disease. Its just for people to enjoy.
But what about the loyal Extreme fans. And there are a lot of them. How will they react to the slight change of musical direction? Will they still appreciate Nunos music and the new CD? Or will Nuno attract a new kind of fan? Nuno reckons old fans should like it. He considers it somewhat of a transition. Obviously the biggest change is that its me by myself. When you dont have another band interpreting your songs or playing them the way that they have, its bound to sound different. But I think Extreme fans have expected the unexpected. I think theyve always known that when you are a writer that writes a lot within a one year period, a lot can change, a lot can happen. As opposed to touring for three years and then going into the studio and writing an album all at once, which a lot of people do. I think this record is representative of a lot of everyday people. Its a very moody album but everyone has these sides, everyone experiences these feelings and situations. I dont think everybody wants to eat toast all day!
The album features fourteen self-penned and produced songs, the majority of which Nuno handled all the instruments for himself. Gary Cherone (who incidentally, Nuno says in Van Halen is financially Im sure hes doing great, spiritually hes probably having a good time. I think hes having a great time with them. Its better than sitting at home, right?! I think hes gonna have some fun. Hes a performer and hes going to be able to perform with Van Halen) co-wrote two and sang on one, while the rare musician joined Nuno on other tracks for backing vocals and percussion, but besides that Nuno was basically a one-man band. He says this was necessary. This album was recorded periodically. It was like, I wrote a song yesterday, I wanna go in and do it. In my mind it was like a demo but I never record anything like a demo, I just go for it. I always imagine later on these songs I couldve played with a band but it never worked out that way. Maybe in the future.
We ask Nuno if hes ever been tempted to do just an instrumental album like some guitarists do, since hes so talented in that department. No, I never will he replies, I have never wanted to. I think its boring. I think its good for a while; some guitarists pull it off pretty well but to me its always been the quest for a better song.
Nuno says he loves to still play guitar but he thinks its harder to play guitar within a song than it is to give up all you have in a song. In fact, with his songwriting and lyrics, the young man covers a lot of ground on the CD. He discusses the subjects of child molestation, death, relationships. It sounds a deep melancholic album but fear not, there are also lighter-hearted topics in there. Nuno explains Some of the songs, regardless of when I wrote them, date back to ten or fifteen years ago. I think the album is actually an up album. Crave, Fine By Me, Pursuit Of Happiness, You...I think half the record is at least up. But I think the darkness always overshadows the lightness of the album. Thats fine, but even the dark subjects I dont think are portrayed in a very dark manner. And I didnt feel really down when I wrote them. They are just about that. But they are not about everybody should die and kill themselves!
The song which begs to stand out is that about child molestation. Entitled 2 Weeks In Dizkneelande its one of the heaviest, most powerful and thought-provoking songs on the album. Nuno wrote it through personal experience although it was more a hey, somethings not right here rather than anything actually occurring. I question whether Nuno has since received mail from fans who might have experienced child molestation, maybe there are people out there who unfortunately identify with the song. He answers that he hasnt. I dont receive a lot of fan mail to here. There has been a lot of problems with our fan clubs. Im surprised we havent been sued yet; actually I think we have been sued! It was just a disaster how we received fan mail and things. But who needs fan mail when you have the Internet now. I guess we have a web page but Im not a big fan of the Internet. I think its the next step to non-communication if you ask me. Its communication by non-communicating, by not being yourself, you can be anyone you want. But I dont know if they are gonna talk about something like that. I think there are a lot of people out there that have experienced situations like that. I used to think it was a heavy situation. I still believe the situation itself is heavy, but I think to talk about it is not heavy. To talk about it, it at least makes some people that havent experienced it think hey, its ok, its cool, it happens.
And its cleansing for you. Yeah, it is. The truth is it wasnt such a bad experience for me in the sense that it was traumatic than anything really happened, it was more of a close call where I got out of the situation before it was too late.
With the birth of his own daughter, Bebe, Black Velvet asks how fatherhood has changed him, contributed to his life and career, perhaps altered his songwriting. He says It has in that department. Its a new equation, its a new start. Its just like any other subject but of course its one of the more important ones. Not the most important but when you are in this business and this career its hard for any one thing to engulf you, although this has almost done that. Having a baby is one of the most wonderful things in your life, as well as the hardest thing in your life at the same time. Shes wonderful but the change and adaptation, especially with the sleep deprivation part, is hard.
The touring part is really mixed. Its gonna be such a mixed emotion thing because you love to play and you cant wait to go but you dont want to leave. Also your daughter grows up so fast that you dont want to miss it.
But youll be taking her out on the road, wont you? Oh yeah, absolutely he affirms. Absolutely. Its the only way to do it.
By the time you read this Nuno and his band (which includes his brother Paul, once in the band, Flesh) should have toured the US and will be going over to Japan for some dates. Well be heading to Europe and the UK for the Summer he announces. Itll be a headline tour for at least the US gigs but Nuno says it depends on how the album goes as to whether they end up supporting a bigger act. Well take it day by day, month by month, I guess.
Is there anyone hes really like to tour with? Yeah. But half the bands I guarantee wouldnt even at this point want Nuno to open for them, considering he might not be as alternatively hip at this point. Live I think are a really good band. I like them a lot. And theres bands out there like Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots. I think theyre great. Radiohead I love. Even Oasis.
On the CD sleeve Nuno is dressed as a woman, with a gorgeous blonde wig and oodles of make-up. He jokes I think everybody should see what I do on weekends! He thinks it would have been better if the album sleeve hadnt been done with a green tint. I had this real problem that I wanted to do the whole album in black and white and it really killed me that when you see it in the light its got green in it. I dont know what the hell that was about. In the dark it looks OK. Have you noticed the lobotomy scar on the forehead? That was the preface of it, it wasnt so much Nuno as a woman, but nobody notices it. Schizophonic was just a music metaphor for schizophrenic really.
Finally, any messages for Black Velvet readers? Messages, messages... well, the biggest message I can send is my album. That would be the biggest message I can give anyone. Its here I am, this is what Im doing, I hope you dig it, and if you dont thats OK too, f**k you! No, if you dont, thats OK. Just as I said, this record for me is a transitional period, its just about the songs. Its me starting over but Im also trying to find myself, on my own, this is me and Im trying to find out about what Im doing, what I am about, sort of rediscovering myself. And maybe it will lean to the alternative side a bit but I think when the dust clears Ill find myself a lot more. I think I need to go through this period of whatever Im doing, of pure songwriting and whatever comes out of me this moment, and I think Nuno will find himself a lot more.
Cool. We hope Nuno finds himself too. We hope he finds the happiness that he is pursuing. And we hope that YOU will all buy his album, 'Schizophonic'. Sincerely, its worth it.