Nuno Bettencourt: ’I Play Solos That Fit in the Song, It’s Not an Olympics for Me’

According to Nuno Bettencourt, what rock fans are “starved for” today is not necessarily about guitar playing but the “mythology of rock ‘n’ roll.” He touched upon the issue while recently discussing his guitar solo for Extreme’s song “Rise,” off of the new album “Six,” and explaining why it actually got so many positive reactions.

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar in a new interview, Bettencourt was asked how he felt about his guitar solo in “Rise” getting into the spotlight in this day and age, even receiving praise from well-established names in the genre, including Rick Beato. He replied:

“You always do the best you can on an album on a solo. But I can’t tell you that I expected what I expected. It was kind of crazy. I mean, within the first 24 hours, 48 hours and the millions of views and the response and the reaction from fans — it was unreal. It was bizarre.”

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“Even like you said, people like Rick Beato, that are greats, calling it one of the greatest solos. Guitar World saying it’s the solo of the century and things like that. I’m humbled.”

As Nuno further adds, why this solo actually exploded, weirdly enough, wasn’t just about the solo itself. He claims that it’s not that different from his other lead parts but there’s also a catch:

“I mean, look, do I try to do a good solo on purpose? Of course. But you never know how people are going to respond. But a part of me also thinks that it’s not just a guitar solo. The guitar solo is decent, but I’ve been doing these solos for 30 years. Not very different, you know, same techniques, same styles.”

The Nuno Bettencourt Solo Everyone is Talking About

He added:

“I think people are starved. They’re starved for not necessarily guitar playing, but they’re starved… We always see great guitar players these days. The majority of them are sitting in rooms like we are, chairs, playing guitar.”

“But I think what really got people excited, was that they weren’t only seeing a guitar player and a solo they liked, they were seeing a guitar solo in a song with arrangements and harmonies and a band and chemistry, a video where a band was passionate, and fire.”

“And I think what has been missing is not just the guitar playing, or not even the guitar playing. I think it’s mostly the mythology of rock’n’roll. You know what I mean? I think we’re missing that fun and the creativity and an album that you care about that, from the first song to the last song, you can put your headphones on and take a journey like we used to be able to do.”

The song and Nuno’s work in it also got attention from the likes of Toto’s Steve Lukather and Queen’s Brian May:

“Guitar players like Steve Lukather and Brian May and quite a lot of people were saying, ‘You know Nuno? We always knew you could play.'”

However, there was a huge difference this time around:

“But what’s different here is that, when’s the last time… Even if it wasn’t Extreme, say if it wasn’t me or wasn’t Extreme and this happened? The question was, when’s the last time since 2000, maybe, that somebody has called you or you called somebody or guitar players are saying, ‘Have you heard this solo?’ Or ‘Have you heard this guy?'”

Midnight Express - Nuno Bettencourt

“And that’s when it hit me. I was like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s right. It’s been a while.’ And I don’t mean that about me. I mean, just in general. And I think it’s exciting that maybe this excites younger guitar players and it excites other people to say, ‘Look, this creativity can still happen, this fire, this passion, this joy can still happen.”

During the interview, Nuno was also asked to name some other parts of the album that he’s really proud of but that might have been in the shadow of “Rise” due to its massive success. He said:

“I’m proud of every second of the album. Because it wouldn’t be on there. I don’t care if it’s the hi-hat pattern, I don’t care if it’s the vocal sound — everything that is released on this album that I produce or engineer, I have to be very proud of. Or else you wouldn’t be hearing it.”

Nuno Bettencourt - Flight Of The Wounded Bumblebee - Extreme Medley - GENERATION AXE Tokyo 170407

Going more into lead parts on the album, Nuno added that

“But guitar solo-wise, I think some of the highlights for me… I play solos that fit in the song and that’s what’s more important to me is that they fit in the song, it’s not an Olympics for me. It’s not to make everybody be as impressed as they were by ‘Rise.'”

“But I think my top two or three that I like is as a solo in ‘Thicker Than Blood’ that I’m excited about. I love the ‘Other Side of the Rainbow’ solo. And of course, ‘Rise.’ But my favorite thing about any of the guitar solos that I hope to do is not to impress you on the technique side but maybe impress everybody on the emotional side. And the song — that it fits in that song.”


Extreme released their album “Six” on June 9 this year. “Rise,” however, came out as a single earlier this year which brought the attention of fans, critics, and professional musicians as well. The album features a total of 12 songs and it was the band’s first full-length release in 13 years, with the previous one being 2010’s “Take Us Alive.”

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 and brands like Sam Ash.