EXTREME's NUNO BETTENCOURT: 'I've Always Believed That Rock And Roll Is Not Complex'

September 3, 2023

In a new interview with Australia's May The Rock Be With You, EXTREME guitarist Nuno Bettencourt discussed the overwhelmingly positive response to the band's latest album, "Six", in particular the song "Rise", which features a guitarist solo that Total Guitar magazine has called "one of the 21st century's finest". Nuno said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think we learned a lot of things with this album, especially the release of it. The response, to me, was not of the typical, 'Oh, great album' or 'great solo' to me. I think it was deeper than that.

"It made me realize how starved for rock and roll I think we all are. And when I say that, I don't mean that there isn't great bands out there now. I mean, even from our generation, more of an old-school kind of approach to making albums, not playlisting, like an album from top to bottom that you can put your headphones on and, and, and take a journey with it, or take a drive with it.

"I think the mythology of rock and roll was missing," Nuno continued. "It's not just the music; it's all of it. It's what bands wear. It's how passionate [they are]. It's watching a guitar player play a solo in a video that you're hearing it, but you're also feeling it and you're seeing the passion.

"Speaking in the genre that we're in, it's not a lot going on with a guy like myself that's kind of like the last of these guys that are playing in that pentatonic world of just being creative without… There's so many guitar players I watch now that I don't even know what the fuck they're doing. Half of the shit, the style of picking they're doing, mixing genres, mixing this, and it's so complex, as opposed to that straight [LED] ZEPPELIN, QUEEN, VAN HALEN, AEROSMITH thing, which is just… Hey, we're playing bar chords sometimes, for fuck's sake. And the solos are within that solo realm. And I think to be creative there, when you get it right, in that small world of rock and roll that isn't really complex… The word I use is 'simplexity'.

"I've always believed that rock and roll is not complex," Nuno added. "Rock, pop, reggae, all of it's been the same arrangements since I can remember. It's a verse, it's a chorus, another verse, a chorus, a bridge, we do a solo and then we go home, and there's an out chorus. But the what separated all the artists from each other was that even those arrangements were simple, the songs were pretty simple, the melodies were pretty simple, but when you went back and listened to it, there were complex layers in there that defined a QUEEN from a ZEPPELIN that you could peel back. Even within the simplicity of it, there was lyrics that were complex, some harmonies that were complex, a guitar solo, a rhythm player that was… But yet they were all doing it within a pop sort of place. And I think that's really difficult. I think it's easier to write a pop song, but to do a complex version of it that you can go in that can live for decades and people can go back and rediscover sounds and discover things they missed the first time, that's the art, I think, that's been missing a little bit, in the sense that I think maybe struck a chord with people, for real."

"Six" came out on June 9 via earMUSIC. "Six" landed at position No. 10 on Billboard's Top Album Sales chart with first-week sales of 12,500 copies. The set marked the band's first studio album since 2008. The act was last in the Top 10 with "III Sides To Every Story", which debuted and peaked at No. 10 back in October 1992.

EXTREME's headlining "Thicker Than Blood" world tour kicked off on August 2. The trek will see the band appear across the U.S., Australia, Japan and Europe, including special guests LIVING COLOUR (U.S., Australia and U.K. only) and THE LAST INTERNATIONALE (Europe only).

In a recent interview with Tiago Ribeiro, Nuno stated about Six: "I would put our album up against anybody's album; I feel that confident. And I think the album itself — never mind me or EXTREME — if I heard that album and it wasn't us, I would think the same way I think about the album now. I think it belongs there. I think it's a well-made album. I think the songs are there. I think that the musicianship, the chemistry and the guitar playing. But I think, more importantly, what's really there and what people are connecting with is the mythology of rock and roll. I think when people saw a guitar player that's in a band with songs and arrangements and the videos and everything, it was almost like seeing something that… People are saying it's so fresh, but for us, it's, like, this is like going back for us. This is more of a reminder than it is anything else that you can still be passionate and have fire and do all those things. And the people are letting us know that they're starved — they're starved for rock and roll like this, I think."

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