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EXTREME's NUNO BETTENCOURT Isn't Afraid Of AI's Impact On Music: "Rock And Roll Will Always Outdo Technology"

"A.I. will never be able to step on stage and replicate what we do at any given second or moment, what we say, the sweat, the love, the passion, the audience"


In a recent conversation with Spain's Metal Journal, Extreme's guitarist Nuno Bettencourt shared his perspective on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creating music. Addressing the apprehensions surrounding AI-generated melodies and lyrics, Nuno expressed a surprisingly welcoming stance. He said: "Everybody's worried and everybody's scared, and how it's gonna change anything. I love it, man. You know why I love it? I'm, like, bring it on. Do more of it."

Nuno elaborated on his point by reflecting on the historical constancy of rock music amidst technological advancements. He noted, "Because what that does, the people who do that and use it and think they can emulate emotion, the bigger, to me, rock and roll is gonna get. Because rock and roll, if you notice — look at all the technology that's happened since the 1930s, everything from telephones to television, to cell phones, to computers to synthesize everything else, what has changed in the guitar? Nothing. Zero. What has changed in a drum set? Nothing. What has changed in a bass guitar? Nothing. A microphone."

For Nuno, the essence of rock and roll lies in its imperfections and authenticity, something AI cannot replicate. "Rock and roll, to me, is, is always there because it's broken," he explained. "It's not artificial. It's not perfect. It's all the imperfections, is what makes us shine. It's the danger of it."

He argues that despite AI's potential to compose and produce music, it will never capture the raw, imperfect energy of rock. "A.I. can do all you want — to write lyrics, to write a song, to do whatever, even record, to do whatever — but it's always gonna sound sterilized, even when they try… Because even if they tried to sound like, let's say, I don't know, Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin didn't even sound like Led Zeppelin every night. Sometimes they were great, sometimes they were sloppy, sometimes it was amazing, and that's the danger, and that's the thing of rock and roll that you will never be able to capture with A.I. I don't give a fuck how much they're gonna try."

Nuno highlighted his recent work on Extreme's Six as an example of his belief in the enduring appeal of genuine rock music, and the audience's gratitude for authentic rock: "You could see just with the latest Extreme album [2023's 'Six'] — fuck Extreme; it didn't even matter that it was Extreme — you could see with just doing an album, people were just thanking us, 'Thank you for a rock album,' 'Thank you just for some rock and roll.' That's how starved and famine that we have."

Comparing himself to Keanu Reeves' character in The Matrix, Nuno asserted the irreplaceable human element of live rock performances. "Sometimes I feel like Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix'," Nuno added. "Rock and roll will always outdo any technology or anything that anybody throws at it, because, you know why? Getting in front of an audience will never — A.I. will never be able to step on stage and replicate what we do at any given second or moment, what we say, the sweat, the love, the passion, the audience. That relationship is untouchable by A.I. Period."

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