By Matt Owen
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t Rise – a track that Bettencourt says has become so popular because he didn’t play it sitting down
With Rise – Extreme’s first new single in 15 years – Nuno Bettencourt set off a chain reaction that sent shockwaves through the electric guitar community, delivering a guitar solo for the ages that had everyone talking.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not the only example of Bettencourt’s virtuosic six-string powers from the band’s upcoming album, Six, with one track in particular apparently reducing some very seasoned pros to literal tears.
Speaking to MusicRadar, Bettencourt recalled the time he gave Steve Vai and Tom Morello a sneak preview of the record, and revealed there was one song in particular that drew an especially strong emotional reaction.
“I got together with a bunch of my friends – Tom Morello and Steve Vai, and DB Weiss from Game Of Thrones – and we are sitting there in the studio,” he said, “and I caught a couple of people fucking tearing up during Hurricane.”
Hurricane, of course, hasn’t been released yet, meaning we can only speculate what it was that made Vai and Morello shed some tears. It does, however, sound like it could be a vocal from Bettencourt, who notes, “sometimes I am singing a few lyrics on there and it’s not the best vocal but, man, I was like, ‘Okay, I nailed that.’ Not technically, not pitch, but I was cracking. It was hard to sing because it was about my best friend who passed away.”
Having said that, with the precedent set by Rise – as well as the other two singles, #Rebel and Banshee – we can hazard a guess that yet more fretboard fireworks from Bettencourt may have played their part.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bettencourt took the opportunity to reflect on all things Rise, discussing the internet-breaking reception the guitar solo received and theorizing why it’s become such a successful lead effort.
For most people, the answer would be simple: “It’s a damn good solo.” For Bettencourt, it’s because he just let rip – and because he didn’t perform it sitting down on social media.
“I think that is what’s exciting people,” offered Bettencourt. “They might not even know it. They can say it’s the fucking guitar solo, and they can sit there and break the fucking thing down, but in my mind it’s this: if I did that sitting down, and I played you that same solo, people would be like, ‘Okay. Cool. He’s doing something interesting there.’
“But it would have been so fucking boring, and so fucking, like, a lack of an event, because it is out of context.”
The Washburn-wielding guitar master also touched on his no-holds-barred approach to the guitar on Extreme’s new album, again referencing Rise as a perfect example.
“There is a bend in one of the first three notes I play where I missed the whole string,” he said. “I missed the whole fucking string. And I hit the next three strings, and it made a sound like, ‘Braaaaang!’ I couldn’t tell you what note it is doing because it is not a note.
“15 years ago, I would have fixed that, like, ‘Let me redo that fucking note.’ But it hit something in me. I nailed it, meaning – woah! – it was sounding like a kick drum mixed with a couple of notes mixed with a car crash, and those are the things that touch people. What they are hearing and seeing is somebody who is saying, ‘Fuck it! Fire! Let’s fucking go!’”
Bettencourt performed Rise live for the first time last week during Extreme’s Monsters of Rock Cruise, though was forced to perform seated later that event following a knee injury he sustained playing basketball.
As a result of his injury, Extreme were forced to postpone their forthcoming M3 Rock Festival appearance, although subsequent dates will continue as planned.
Extreme’s upcoming album Six will arrive June 9.