EXTREME guitarist Nuno Bettencourt spoke to Masters Of Shred about his approach when working on his jaw-dropping solo from the band’s new single “Rise”. “Rise” was the first single to be shared from EXTREME‘s upcoming studio album, “Six”, which is due on June 9 via earMUSIC.
“It wasn’t any specific concerted effort to do anything that I hadn’t been doing for 35, 40 years,” Nuno explained in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “It’s interesting hearing people talk about the solo when ‘Rise’ came out, and it’s really great — it feels great and it’s exciting — but what was great was seeing some older fans from the past going, ‘You didn’t hear him do this type of this on ‘Peacemaker Die’ or do this.’ So it was kind of something you’ve been doing a long time. So I think technically and within what I do, I don’t think it’s too surprising, but when I was kind of seeing what was happening, even within 24 hours, it was different. It wasn’t just your typical kind of, even your peers and your heroes hitting you up, saying… Usually we have to do that. We’re, like, ‘Your new album is great. Good job, kid.’ But it was more, like, ‘What the fuck, dude? What are you doing?’ It was anybody from Zakk [Wylde] to Brian May to these different people. And I’m, like, ‘Wow. This feels a little bit different.’”
Nuno went on to say that he thinks the “Rise” music video “had a big part” in generating a wave of positive feedback from the public and other musicians alike. “And the reason is because you know, as well as I do, there’s so many great guitar players out there now,” he said. “Even the younger and up-and-coming guys that we all see on Instagram and make our jaws drop with what they’re doing. But the way they deliver guitar and solos is most of the time sitting in a chair in their bedrooms or in a studio. Which is… by the way, I’m not frowning… I follow that shit. It blows my mind. A lot of them play circles technically around shit that I don’t even know what they’re doing, all different sorts of picking stuff. But I think maybe what was missing is that all of a sudden — I’m glad it was EXTREME — all of a sudden a guitar player in a band with songs and harmonies and a hook and a bridge, kind of an old-school approach where guitar players used to play a solo within a song, a song within a song almost. I think that, and the mythology of… It never was just about guitar players; it’s about the mythology of rock and roll. Meaning watching a band go all in passionately, emotionally, physically. Because when you do play guitar, there’s a physical side to it. It has to be. It kind of comes through you.
“When people say, ‘Well, how do you do a solo like that?’ It’s, like, the song feeds that,” he added. “The song kind of gives you what the tone of the solo is, how fiery it is.
“I always try to play the solo for the song; that’s my biggest goal in life. And ‘Rise’ is an uptempo track; it’s got its energy. So those sections, as a band, all that stuff guides you where to go.”
Nuno played “Rise” live with his bandmates for the first time on May 1 during EXTREME‘s concert aboard the Monsters Of Rock cruise.
This past March, YouTuber and musician Rick Beato offered a walkthrough of Nuno‘s complex “Rise” guitar solo which is played in drop D tuning. In Beato‘s video, he said in awe: “The note choice and everything, when he plays those blues licks, they’re just blazing. But then you get to that false-fingering part, which is beautiful. This is the kind of stuff I like to do. I can’t do it fast like him. You can hear that there’s a pattern to it.”
He added: “It’s hard to play, and if you are trying to play along, don’t practice it for too long because you’re gonna get tendonitis, because I think I got tendonitis just from trying to play it slowly here. It’s kind of a complex pattern. But once you get it, I think you’ll be able to play it fast if you practice it.”
“There are a lot of great guitar players out there — you’ll see them on Instagram, you’ll see them everywhere — but 99 percent of the time they’re not playing as part of an actual song,” Beato concluded. “This [Bettencourt‘s solo] is an old-school thing that we just haven’t heard in forever.
“He’s just unbelievable — he’s the guy now, I think.”
According to Music Radar, the “Rise” solo features “Bettencourt in blazing form, constructing a bridge between old-school hard rock with some avant-garde methodology, i.e. using the minor blues scale for basic vocabulary, tremolo picking and divebombs a la Eddie Van Halen, before taking this into a sound and technique that is totally alien and beyond the ken of regular mortals. Deploying his sui generis picking and muting at hyper-quick speed, Bettencourt takes this solo into the realms of you have to see it to believe it. If it were a lesser player, you’d be wondering if the pedalboard was offering assistance.”
“Rise” has seen unprecedented success following its debut on March 1 alongside a fiery music video which has received over two and a half million views to date. The critically acclaimed song has earned praise from international top tier media outlets, including Consequence, Classic Rock, Music Radar and Guitar World, in addition to accolades from such fellow musical peers as Brian May (QUEEN) and radio personality Howard Sternwhile peaking at No. 3 on the classic rock charts.
EXTREME will bring “Six”‘s music to audiences across the globe on the “Thicker Than Blood” tour. The trek will see the band visit North America from August 2 to August 29 and Australia from September 6 to September 13, where they will be joined by special guests LIVING COLOUR. EXTREME will also continue to bring the “Thicker Than Blood” tour to audiences in Japan from September 17 to September 26.
In addition to having its music appear in the Netflix juggernaut “Stranger Things”, the Boston quartet has sold 10 million records, topped the Billboard Hot 100 at #1, packed major venues on multiple continents, memorably performed at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in London, and regularly average over five million monthly listeners on Spotify.