HellHoundMusic.com’s Interview With Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme!

By on August 9, 2016

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Interview with

Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme

Hellhound Music: You have a long and distinguished music career. What was your big break?

Nuno: My first break was when Extreme got signed to A&M Records. It put us on an international level.

Hellhound Music: You toured with the biggest acts in the industry. What was the best advice someone gave you about the ins and outs of the music business?

Nuno: I had to learn a lot on my own, but the best advice is to be yourself, develop your own sound and find your identity.

Hellhound Music: Can you share any crazy tour stories? You can omit names to protect the “guilty”?

Nuno: I could, but I would have to have to use a neuralyzer on you. I was just on the Generation Axe Tour with Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde and Tosin Abasi. We spent many nights on the tour bus sharing war stories that cannot be repeated!

Hellhound Music: Tell me about your involvement with fans?

Nuno: If you have ever seen Extreme, then you know the band always comes outside after the show and signs every last autograph and takes every last photo with fans. We have always been about the fans.

Hellhound Music:  How has your recording process evolved over the years?

Nuno: For me it has always been about sounds and textures. Some of my best recordings were done on a four track, holed up in a hotel room in the middle of the night. If something has a vibe, then I will keep it. Now with Pro Tools, the process has become much wider.

Hellhound Music: Who are some of your musical influences?

Nuno: I have been influenced by so many different types of artists. Of course guitar players like Van Halen, Brian May, Jimmy Page, etc.

Hellhound Music: What was the first record you ever bought?

Nuno: Aerosmith ‘Get Your Wings’

Hellhound Music: Who are some of today’s artists that you enjoy?

Nuno: I like what Muse is doing. Also like this artist Aerochord.

Hellhound Music: Have you ever wanted to be an actor?

Nuno: I have done some acting. I had a minor role in the movie “Just a Little Harmless Sex.”

Hellhound Music: What is your proudest moment as a musician?

Nuno: There has been so many for me. Probably getting a record contact, having a #1 single, hearing my music on the radio for the first time, etc.

Hellhound Music:  What are your interests other than performing?

Nuno: I spend a lot of time writing. I have my own production company and I am writing and producing up-and-coming artists.

Hellhound Music: Can you tell us about any new albums or tours in site please?

Nuno: We are releasing Pornograffitti Live 25 this fall. Blu-Ray, DVD and CD. It also comes with a bonus documentary.

Hellhound Music: Do you have any final words that you’d like to share with your fans?

Nuno: I am very appreciative and thank you all for the love and support.

CoverExtreme

EXTREME

CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY

OF CLASSIC ‘PORNOGRAFFITTI’ ALBUM

WITH RELEASE OF “PORNOGRAFFITTI LIVE 25 / METAL MELTDOWN

BLU-RAY/DVD/CD This Fall

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of Extreme’s classic multi-Platinum, Grammy® nominated PORNOGRAFFITTI, the definitive album of the band’s career. To mark the anniversary, PORNOGRAFFITTI LIVE 25 / METAL MELTDOWN will be released September 23 by the award-winning production company Rock Fuel Media in association with Loud & Proud Records as part of their four-part “Metal Meltdown” DVD series. The concert film captures the Boston band performing the album PORNOGRAFFITTI in its entirety.

Directed by Brian Lockwood (Bon Jovi, Metallica, Motley Crue), the PORNOGRAFFITTI LIVE 25 / METAL MELTDOWN package includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and audio CD of the complete concert that was filmed on May 30, 2015 at The Joint at the world famous Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. It also features Rockshow, a bonus documentary that takes fans through Extreme’s story, with exclusive interviews, ‘80s archive footage, and an exclusive photo gallery. Mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound, it’s set for release This Fall.

“It was a great thrill to perform PORNOGRAFFITTI in its entirety,” says singer Gary Cherone. “Some of these songs were never played live before so we had to go back and relearn them for the tour.  The album was a watershed moment in the bands career…it’s when we came in to our own and it will always be special.”

As guitar virtuoso Nuno Bettencourt continues, “The band always prided itself on its live performance. Over the years, some of these songs have evolved where the band actually plays them better now than when we had recorded them. Hope you enjoy it. “

Extreme achieved their greatest success with their 1990 album PORNOGRAFFITTI, which peaked at #10 on the Billboard’s “Top 200 Albums” chart, and was certified multi-Platinum. Musically, PORNOGRAFFITTI is dominated by blistering guitar riffs, often with funky, syncopated timing, and incendiary, high-speed rock/metal solos. The record provided Bettencourt with widespread admiration from rock guitar enthusiasts and continual exposure in leading guitar playing publications. But it was the acoustic ballad single, “More Than Words,” that reached #1 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart and was nominated for a Grammy® Award for “Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.” The subsequent single, “Hole Hearted,” another acoustic track, was also successful, rising to #4 on the same chart. “Decadence Dance” and “Get the Funk Out” were also released as singles both landing on Billboards Rock chart and becoming fan favorites.

To date, the Grammy-nominated EXTREME have released five albums, plus a greatest hits set—selling over 10 million records worldwide.  The band’s trademark sound is a mix of hard rock funk in the spirit and style of their predecessors Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen and Van Halen—fueled by BETTENCOURT’s signature guitar flights and CHERONE’s resonant vocals—and matched with a social consciousness in their lyrics.

Award-winning producer Barry Summers of Rock Fuel Media commented, “It was a real privilege to produce PORNOGRAFFITTI LIVE 25 / METAL MELTDOWN in celebration of PORNOGRAFFITI, to have the opportunity to work first-hand with such high caliber musicians and audio purists. Over 25 years after this iconic album was released, we captured the band at their very best. Watching Nuno Bettencourt’s off-the-charts guitar solos is simply mind-blowing, as confirmed by Queen’s Brian May and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, whom we filmed paying homage to the Guitar God himself in the RockShow documentary. One of the highlights of the documentary is a moment where Gary and Nuno are sitting on the doorstep of Gary’s childhood home, and they perform a spontaneous version of ‘More Than Words.’”

Here’s the complete song listing of PORNOGRAFFITTI LIVE 25 / METAL MELTDOWN:

 

  1. Decadence Dance
  2. Li’l Jack Horny
  3. When I’m President
  4. Get the Funk Out
  5. More Than Words
  6. Money (In God We Trust)
  7. It (‘s a Monster)
  8. Pornograffitti
  9. When I First Kissed You
  10. Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?)
  11. Flight of the Wounded Bumble Bee
  12. He-Man Woman Hater
  13. Song For Love
  14. Hole Hearted
  15. Play With Me*
  16. Cupid’s Dead*

* Songs do not appear on the audio CD.

About Loud & Proud Records:

Loud & Proud Records is an independent record label whose mission is to provide a true partnership between artists and their label. Loud & Proud’s roster of releases is a diverse collection of established and developing artists. Notably, the label’s longstanding relationship with Lynyrd Skynyrd has yielded releases from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Zant (featuring brothers Johnny and Donnie); The Rossingtons (Gary & Dale Rossington), and Blackfoot (featuring Rickey Medlocke). The label also represents recordings by rock supergroup The Winery Dogs; emerging Nashville roots/blues artists The Delta Saints; multi-platinum alternative band Flyleaf; Grammy® Award winners Blues Traveler; Grammy® award winner Rick Springfield; five-time Emmy® Award winning actor and musician Jonathan Jackson and his band Enation; jam scene favorites The String Cheese Incident; powerhouse rockers KIX and more. Labels under Lipsky’s direction in the past (CMC International, Sanctuary Records Group and a joint-venture with Roadrunner Records) released such prominent artists as Rush, Neil Young, Robert Plant, KISS, Morrissey, Lenny Kravitz, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band and more. Loud & Proud Records is distributed worldwide by ADA, a Warner Music Company and is marketed outside North America by International Solutions.

For the first time ever, a Japan tour

Sep. 29th – Tokyo Hitomi Kinen Kodo
Sep. 30th – Sendai PIT
Oct. 3rd – Osaka Archaic Hall
Oct. 4th – Zepp Nagoya
Oct. 5th – Tokyo Dome City Hall

 

About Rock Fuel Media:

Rock Fuel Media is an award-winning, full-service film and television production company specializing in multimedia content distribution. Rock Fuel Media’s goal is to build entertainment brands, engage audiences and boost revenues for its partners. Their team has worked with some of the world’s biggest artists, including Guns N’ Roses, The Smashing Pumpkins. The Beach Boys, Korn, The Doors, Heart, Carrie Underwood, Jane’s Addiction, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams Jr., 3 Doors Down, Norah Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge, Twisted Sister, Extreme, Skid Row, and Great White. They produce 2D/3D and 4K live entertainment programming and provide a cloud-based, multi-channel content distribution platform for the shows they produce and distribute. They use a proprietary production process and secured content delivery network specially designed to engage audiences, build brands and boost revenues for their partners.

 

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Bio

Nuno Duarte Gil Mendes Bettencourt (born September 20, 1966) is a Portuguese-born American guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist of the Boston rock band Extreme. He has since recorded a solo project called Schizophonic as well as with bands he founded including Mourning Widows, Population 1, DramaGods, The Satellite Party (headed by Jane’s Addiction‘s then-former frontman and Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell), and then reunited with Extreme to record new music and tour. Washburn Guitars sells a line of Nuno Bettencourt custom guitars.

 

Early years

 Bettencourt was born on September 20, 1966 in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores, Portugal, to Ezequiel Mendes Bettencourt and wife Aureolina da Cunha Gil de Ávila. When he was four years old, his family, including brothers Luís and Roberto, moved toHudson, Massachusetts. Bettencourt lived on Main Street in Hudson for twenty-one years. Initially, Bettencourt had little interest in music, preferring to spend his time playing hockey and soccer. His first instrument was the drums and he played them exclusively until his brother, Luís, started teaching him the guitar. While Bettencourt was slow to adopt the instrument under his brother’s tutelage, his skills quickly developed when he began teaching himself, and he has mentioned in many interviews that he would skip many school days to practice upwards of seven hours a day. In his sophomore and junior years of high school, Bettencourt dropped out of sports so he could focus on playing guitar. He eventually dropped out of high school altogether, for the same reason. As a guitarist, one of Bettencourt’s earliest influences was Eddie Van Halen. However, as he developed his craft as a guitarist and a songwriter, his influences expanded to embrace The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Queen, Pat Travers, Paco de Lucía, Al Di Meola and Kayak.

 

Career

Extreme

Main article: Extreme (band)

Unable to make a dent in the music world with his Boston-based hair-metal act Sinful, Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player after he joined the Boston-area group Extreme in 1985. Signed to A&M Records shortly after Bettencourt joined the group, the band released its debut record, Extreme, in 1989. He then provided rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson‘s “Black Cat,” which became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1990, Extreme released their most critically acclaimed album, Pornograffitti, which included the hits “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted”. The album also has one of the most impressive guitar solos to date, The “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” an interpretation of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”, which is the intro guitar solo to the Track “He-Man Woman Hater”. The band followed up with III Sides to Every Story in 1992. Bettencourt composed and arranged the brass and string sections for this album and the full orchestra on the album. In 1995, Extreme released the album, Waiting for the Punchline, but the band broke up in 1996 when Bettencourt expressed his desire to follow a solo career. Shortly after, singer Gary Cherone went on to become the lead singer of Van Halen.

In 2007, the band reformed with the original line up (with the exception of Paul Geary) to begin work on a new album, Saudades de Rock, released on August 12, 2008, and subsequent tour.

Extreme hiatus period

In 1997, Bettencourt released his first solo effort, Schizophonic, which he had been working on for five years. The album was well-received critically, but was not a commercial success.

On December 16, 1997, Bettencourt’s new band – Mourning Widows (whose name was inspired by a writing he had seen on a church wall back in Portugal), released their self-titled debut album in Japan on Polydor Records. It sold 45,000 in the first month. The band featured Roberto Carlos’ son Donovan Bettencourt on bass and New York drummer Jeff Consi. In 2000, Mourning Widow’s follow-up, Furnished Souls for Rent originally released in Japan, and then in the U.S. Both Mourning Widows releases cultivated a strong following in Japan and New England.

In 2008, Bettencourt was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture Smart People. Bettencourt is credited on the cover on the soundtrack as well. The soundtrack also features the Gary Cherone track, “Need I Say More”, and Baby Animals selections. The album was released by Hollywood Records and is available on iTunes. The following year, Bettencourt was featured in a song and video called “Best Night Ever”. by Marshall Eriksen, a character on How I Met Your Mother The video was a parody of Extreme’s “More Than Words” video, in which the entire main cast of How I Met Your Mother made appearances.

Population 1 and DramaGods

Bettencourt formed the recording entity Population 1 and released the self-titled and self-produced 2002 release, Population 1, on Universal/Japan and YBM/Korea. In support of the Population 1 (which featured him playing all instruments on most tracks), release in Japan and Korea, Bettencourt assembled a band with Joe Pessia on bass, Steve Ferlazzo on keyboards and back-up vocals, and Kevin Figueiredo on drums and back-up vocals. Steve Ferlazzo was also featured in Cherone’s next band carnation effort after Van Halen’s breakup (Along with Pat Badger and Mike Mangini from Extreme) Tribe of Judah.

In 2004, Population 1 released Sessions from Room Four as well as an east coast tour in the fall of that year. Due to legal issues, the name Population 1 was dropped in 2005 and the band was renamed to Near Death Experience, then again, renamed to DramaGods. DramaGods released their first album in December 2005 available as an import via Victor Entertainment (Japan). The band then made their record available as a digital download on iTunes in early 2006.

DramaGods are currently seeking a record deal for release of their first album under the new name in the U.S. After an explosive debut on the increasingly popular The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, the band (still called ‘Population 1’ at that point), later appeared on the social networking website MySpace, featuring videos and songs from the aforementioned Dramagods album, entitled Love. Bettencourt decided to make the album available through iTunes before procuring an American record deal.

Bettencourt frequently toured with DramaGods in Japan where they appeared at the Udo Music Festival along with KISS, Santana, Jeff Beck, The Doobie Brothers, Alice in Chains, The Pretenders, Ben Folds Five, and others in July 2006 shortly after Bettencourt took part in a three date reunion tour with Extreme in New England.

Other works

Guitar Wars

Bettencourt’s playing has been featured at 2004 on the Universal/Japan CD and DVD release of Guitar Wars featuring solo and collective performances of Bettencourt with many others, including Steve Hackett (Genesis, GTR), Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Mr. Big/Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert.

Satellite Party

The Satellite Party is Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell‘s new project which featured Bettencourt as lead guitarist (Nuno left the band in July 2007, citing disagreements about the direction of the live show), along with DramaGods drummer Kevin Figueiredo, bassist Carl Restivo (who also played with Extreme in the Azores in 2004), and Etty Farrell on backing vocals. An earlier lineup of the band with Perry Farrell, Etty Farrell, Nuno, Kevin Figueiredo, and Steve Ferlazo (Dramagods) on keyboards performed at the 2005 Lollapalooza festival.

Bettencourt helped produce Ultra Payloaded, the debut album by Satellite Party released on May 29, 2007 on Columbia Records. On June 29, 2007, they performed alongside Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and Incubus in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In late July 2007, Bettencourt and Drummer Kfigg departed Satellite Party.

Criss Angel Mindfreak

The latest CD from magician Criss Angel contains a song on which Bettencourt appears and was released in June 2006. Sully Erna, Vince Neil, Shannon Larkin and Bettencourt join Angel in the video for the track “MF 2” which was shot atop the Aladdin parking garage.

Other artists

In 1990, Bettencourt played rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson‘s “Black Cat,” which was his first pop collaboration and a number one hit. In return for his contribution, Jackson was speculated to provide a spoken line on the song “Money (In God We Trust)” from Extreme’s second album, Pornograffiti.

In 1993, Bettencourt co-wrote and produced “Where Are You Going” for the Super Mario Bros. movie. He also joined Robert Palmer in the studio to record Palmer’s album Honey.

According to former Journey lead singer Steve Perry, Bettencourt has teamed with him to write and arrange songs. He also has writing and recording engagements with Maverick Records’ Tantric (Bettencourt co-wrote Tantric’s hit single “Hey Now”), Hollywood recording group BB Mak, Toni Braxton, and numerous others.

Bettencourt has also collaborated with singer Suze DeMarchi and with all of her Baby Animals bandmates. On Baby Animals‘ second release, Shaved and Dangerous (July 1996), he produced a few songs and co-wrote “Because I Can”. Additionally, all the members of Baby Animals appeared on Bettecourt’s 1997 solo album Schizophonic. He also contributed greatly in writing, recording and producing DeMarchi’s solo debut from 1998, Telelove.

In 1991, Bettencourt also produced Dweezil Zappa‘s release on Barking Pumpkin Records, Confessions. In this record, Bettencourt also sings lead vocals for the first time on a semi-ballad entitled “The Kiss”, as well as playing guitar and singing background vocals on some other tracks. Extreme members Gary Cherone and Pat Badger also contributed.

In 1999, Bettencourt produced the album Magnolia, for the portuguese singer and actress Lúcia Moniz. He also featured as singer and guitarist in the song “Try Again” of this album.

In 2006, Bettencourt along with his band DramaGods contributed their song “S’OK” to the album project Artists for Charity – Guitarists 4 the Kids, produced by Slang Productions to assist World Vision Canada in helping underprivileged kids in need.

In November 2009, Bettencourt announced that he would be touring with Barbadian singer Rihanna on her Last Girl on Earth Tour as lead guitarist, having appeared alongside her in several TV shows and other performances. He has since performed as Rihanna’s lead guitarist on every subsequent tour, including her Loud (2010), 777 (2012) and Diamonds World (2013) tours, respectively.

In July 2011, Steel Panther reported to Loud Magazine that Nuno would be “coming in to do something” on their then-upcoming release Balls Out. The collaboration resulted in the track “It Won’t Suck Itself”, which also featured Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.

In April and May of 2016, Bettencourt was one of five guitarists featured on the Generation Axe tour.

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