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“Why are you even on stage?”: Nuno Bettencourt says using backing tracks to fake live playing is “crossing a line”

The use of a backing track to fill in for an instrument that isn’t there is no bother to Bettencourt, but when it comes to players miming he’s not so impressed.

Nuno Bettencourt on stage. He has foot rested on a platform as he is playing guitar.

Image: Ethan Miller / Getty

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Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has spoken against the use of backing tracks during live performances.

Though he feels pre-recorded music in place of a band member who is missing makes sense, he’s strongly against the use of a backing track used to mime along to.

Bettencourt, who’s best known these days for his mighty solo on the Extreme track Rise, tells Metal Journal he feels there’s an important balance to keep in mind when it comes to ensuring your audience isn’t being duped (via Ultimate Guitar): “I think it’s always been okay for me to hear things live that a band cannot do.

“For instance, if it’s a four-piece band, and they’re like, ‘You know what? We don’t have a keyboard player, but we want to hear some keyboards.’ I’ve sat down and played Midnight Express with the playback or [Flight of the] Bumblebee with a little click track, or something like that. I don’t mind seeing that. I don’t even mind if they don’t have background singers; at least you know it’s pre-recorded.”

He further explains, “Where it goes wrong for me is when you fake it. What goes wrong for me is when a singer [is] faking it. Or, I’m playing guitar and I’m faking my guitar solos. That, to me, is crossing a line. I think there’s a balance in this. There’s got to be a respect there for the audience if they’re coming to pay to see you perform.”

Bettencourt adds he sees no issue with adding in sound effects, keyboards, or extra guitars that aren’t there, “I don’t even mind somebody [wanting to have] rhythm guitars and there’s no rhythm guitar player, go for it,” he says. “At least the audience knows that’s pre-recorded. That’s okay to me. But when you’re actually pretending, or you’re fooling them, or you’re faking them, then I think, ‘Come on, guys. Why are you even on stage? Why are you charging money? Why are you doing it?’ The idea of faking something is the part that bothers me.”

Extreme are on tour from June-September. Find out more on where they’ll be playing next.

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