"The closest I've come to [writing] things other than songs is a poem... that got morphed into a song," says Hurtsmile frontman Gary Cherone of his writing history. "I'm very comfortable in the song-writing medium. It's funny. I think poems can be converted into songs [but] I think it would be harder the other way around. As far as a book, I'm taking a lot of my life to the grave -- I'm not telling stories!"

While Cherone might not be into telling stories of life on the road or his experiences in Extreme and Van Halen, he does lay his emotions on the line when it comes to songwriting. With his new band Hurtsmile, Cherone is spreading his wings and tackling some pretty serious themes. One look at the track list from Hurtsmile's self-titled debut and you can tell the album has some dark political overtones.

"Anybody would have to have their heads in the sand to not be affected by what is going on," says Cherone of the current revolutions in the Middle East and Africa. "Things change on a daily basis -- within moments. Granted, revolution is a scary thing and a dangerous thing at times... Libya is on fire now."

Cherone says that while he is inspired by world events, but does not write too specifically about them for the sake of the song. "When I do write, I don't write so specific and topical as some of the Extreme stuff in the past. 'Rest in Peace' comes to mind. I guess I'm proud [that] you could probably apply some of the stuff I've written in the past to today. To me, that's the goal: be influenced by what is going on, but try to write in a general sense."

By writing in such a fashion, Cherone says he is able to keep his songs from sounding immediately dated. While his writing process with each of his bands is always a little different, he does keep one practice fairly constant.

"Lyrically, I'll go off in a corner or drive around in my car and write. I waste a lot of gas!" laughs Cherone. "I'll come in with an idea or chorus and the band jams and we work out an arrangement."

'Hurtsmile' is available now via Frontiers.