Nuno Bettencourt Explains What Modern Social Media Guitar Virtuosos Are Lacking: ’The Fire Is Missing’

Recently, Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt sat down with Scott Lipps to discuss the band’s work, particularly the new album “Six.” Scheduled for June release, we’ve got three tracks from the record. The one that got the most attention, however, was “Rise” which was mostly praised for Bettencourt’s lead part, both by fans and other rock legends. Asked whether he expected this kind of reaction to the song and its highly-praised solo, Nuno replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“It’s actually a bit overwhelming. One of the things about you said about waiting to do an album is it starts there. We probably had four albums worth of material over the last 10 years. It’s not like we stopped writing. But people say ‘Why now?’

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“A lot of my peers, and to their credit, you release albums to tour. I’m very financially detrimental to my own career. Because we could have released four or five albums, taken the advances, and just worked off of it.”

“But for me, I’ve always said to Gary [Cherone, Extreme singer]… At a young age man, 17-18 years old, I said like, ‘I don’t ever want to release anything that I’m not proud of, that is meaningful, has something to say, whether it’s lyrically emotionally, guitar-wise, band-wise chemistry…’ It’s either all-in and we’re feeling something that’s going to actually touch people and move, or I’d rather not say anything.”

“And I think it’s a combination of seeing all the reactions… When my phone started coming in and you got peers of yours, heroes of yours… Like Brian May or Steve Lucather, or even [Tom] Morello and [Steve] Vai and these guys, and they start saying, ‘There’s some other shit going on here.'”

“And for you, you’re thinking, ‘Really?’ I mean, this is what I’ve been doing for nearly 40 years… And I was trying to do the math on it, why it hit a million, then 2 million, and then seeing the reaction of…”

“You know, how the big trend of watching people watch something, the reaction videos? And seeing how crazy that has been… I kind of looked at it and I thought — I think I know what’s happening here.

“Yeah, you know, the solo was cool. Everybody’s raving about the solos. But I’ve been doing solos like that and these for decades. But I think, right now, for a band from our generation, from that far back in the 1900s when we were around… [Laughs]

Extreme - "#Rebel" (Official Music Video)

Discussing the song and the band’s new material further, Bettencourt also reflected on what the guitar player scene is like today, particularly the focus on social media content creation. While Nuno is more than impressed by what these new young musicians are able to achieve, he still argues that there are some valuable things missing in their work:

When we look at guitar players now, which there are so many great players that I follow on Instagram and on the socials — jaw-dropping. I don’t comment on anything, but when I see something I’m just like, ‘Fuck you. What is that?'”

“I feel the same way about these new players. And it’s not to say that they don’t do gigs. But the way they connect with people now, it’s sitting in a chair at home. We look at them on Instagram and they’re doing these amazing things. So it’s all kind of technically driven.

Extreme - "Banshee" (Official Music Video)

Going back to Extreme’s song “Rise,” Nuno further explained how it all goes back to the old-school rock ‘n’ roll music, highlighting the importance of the “physicality” aspect of it:

“And I think why people’s heads are exploding on ‘Rise’ is the mythology of rock and roll. You look at that video and you see it, and you see the passion. Because when you’re sitting in a chair just doing it, the fire is missing. And there’s a physicality, right?

“When you see a guitar player in a video going all in, it’s a physical thing. Like when we used to watch Edward [Van Halen] or even Stevie Ray Vaughan — They don’t play guitar, it’s like another limb that they have.

“So it becomes the whole like, within a song, within a hook, within vocals, within harmonies, lyrics, the band’s performing, it’s all cylinders. So I think the excitement is…

What makes EXTREME - RISE so good?

“I was getting more like ‘thank yous’ than just like, ‘Hey, great track.’ It was like, ‘Man, I think you guys just brought rock ‘n’ roll from your generation back singlehandedly.’ Or even guitar playing within a realm of a song.

And as Nuno explains, there are plenty of great bands today. One example, in his opinion, is Five Finger Death Punch:

“Because there’s a lot of great modern bands. Even Five Finger Death Punch — like the guitar playing, everything on there is sick. It’s just a different generation of music.

The Nuno Bettencourt Solo Everyone is Talking About

He continued by adding that the market is still hungry for the good old stuff:

“So I think it was more… I realized that people are kind of starved for it and a bit. Probably why Def Leppard and Motley Crue are doing stadiums and why and why Guns [N’ Roses] is doing stadiums. There’s a little bit of a starvation for that kind of rock and roll from the late ’80s, early ’90s vibe. So listen, when they say, I’m here for it, and I’m like, ‘You’re welcome.'”

And that’s exactly what Nuno wanted Extreme to achieve with this album — to fill this portion of the market that’s looking for the good old rock ‘n’ roll:

“But I did say that to Robby [Hoffman], our manager early on, he’s like, ‘What do you want to do with this album?’ I was like… And I don’t mean this arrogantly… I want to do a rock album. I want somebody to be able to put headphones on for 50 minutes, or take a drive in the car, and just curate an album from front to back like we used to listen to. It’s not just playlisted.

Guitar Teacher REACTS: Extreme - "Rise" | KILLER Nuno Bettencourt Solo

“I’m not that guy ‘Back in my day…’ I get digital, I get DSPs, I get all of that. But there’s something about curating an album that can be a soundtrack to your life or that year or summer. And you discover things throughout.

“You know, every time I played it for people, they’re like ‘I didn’t catch this the first time.’ There’s a word I use called ‘Simplexity.’

“We all know rock and roll is simple. The music is basic. It’s a three-and-a-half-minute song. It’s got a verse, it hasn’t changed, it’s like the beginning of time.”

BLABBERMOUTH.NET -- Nuno Bettencourt Performs "Rise" Solo Live For First Time

“But, if you if you care enough about it, you keep it simple. But then if you want to go back, there’s complexities underneath. Like what Brian May was talking about, I think that’s why he connects with my playing.

“I don’t think it’s just the playing. We’re nothing like Queen. But we’re philosophically like Queen. We don’t care. And we do what we love. And we don’t worry whether it’s heavy, whether it’s too heavy, or whether it’s light, or whether it’s ‘More Than Words.’

“And people were like ‘You guys are all over the place!’ Actually no. [Led] Zeppelin, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Queen — they had more musicality within one album than most bands do in their careers now.

Photo: Public domain (Extreme08 026)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.