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March 7, 2024

More Than Words: Nuno Bettencourt: This is Extreme’s Best Era


Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt admits that most bands brag about their next album or current tour being their best.

In Extreme’s case, it’s true, he said.

“Humbly, people have said this is the best version of Extreme they’ve seen,” he said. “The band has gotten better live. We’re more mature — but not in a boring way. It’s in the performance and the musicianship. I think shows are more exciting for us now. We just did the United States, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, Europe, and now we’re coming back to do this. By the time we get to Phoenix, it’ll be the most fine-tuned show fans have seen in a long time.”

Fans can witness for themselves when Extreme visits The Bellwether with Living Colour on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

“We’ve been doing shows with them for months,” Bettencourt said about Living Colour, best known for its hit “Cult of Personality.”

“They’re our brothers. They’re such a great band. They’re the best musicians, the best writers and the best performers. They’re some of the greatest guys you would ever meet. Corey’s voice is great. It annoys me that I have to go on after Vernon (Reid guitarist), but I deal with it.”

The band — vocalist Gary Sherone, guitarist Bettencourt, bassist Pat Badger and drummer Kevin Figueiredo — is touring in support of its new album, “Six.”

“Six” has spawned the singles “Rise,” “Banshee,” “#REBEL” and the ballad “Other Side of the Rainbow.” Bettencourt said fans can expect to hear a big chunk of “Six” in concert. Clocking in at 90 minutes to two hours, Extreme’s shows could be much longer.

“We just have such a vast catalog that we want to share with the fans, who have come along with us. This is probably the most songs a band would do off of a new album. In this case, we’ve had such an exciting response — and a passionate response. We’re doing six songs off the new album and people are still complaining, ‘Where’s the other six?’”

Formed in 1985, the Boston group’s run began in 1989 with its self-titled debut.

Among many highlights, “Play with Me” not only graced the soundtrack of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” but also the season four opener of “Stranger Things.”

Meanwhile, “Extreme II” bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 and eventually picked up a double-platinum certification.

Two songs from the album, “Hole Hearted” and “More Than Words,” were hits. “More Than Words” still resonates as it’s one of the most popular rock songs, with more than 500 million streams and 633 million YouTube views.

In its wake, the gold-certified “III Sides To Every Story” saw them return to the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. “Waiting for the Punchline” (1995) and “Saudades de Rock” (2008) followed.

Notable appearances include opening for Aerosmith at Fenway Park in Boston. Respected musicians, Cherone and Bettencourt have lent their instruments to other acts — Van Halen and Rihanna, respectively.

“Six” came about organically, according to Bettencourt. The traditional business model for musicians was to do a tour, take a “minute off,” record an album, release it and tour again. Things have changed since Extreme got into the business.

“With a band of our age and generation, nobody’s putting guns to our heads,” Bettencourt said.

With 15 years between “Six” and the previous record, 2008’s “Saudades de Rock,” some questioned if Extreme was trying to break the “Chinese Democracy record,” he said with a laugh.

“This album took as long as any album,” he added, “We’ve never been great at business or releasing (stuff) just to make money. If that’s the case, we’d put out an album more frequently.

“If we’re going to put something out, it has to mean something — mean something to us, something we’re proud to show fans, our families, the press. It has to feel that way. If it does end up getting some attention, you don’t want to be embarrassed.”