Nuno Bettencourt has revealed that his statement solo on Extreme’s comeback single Rise begins with a mistake.
The masterful guitar solo effectively broke the guitar internet when Rise dropped back in March, winning acclaim from everyone from Brian May to Rick Beato for its blend of technical wizardry and musicality.
However, in a new interview with Total Guitar, Bettencourt says the recorded take actually began with an error.
“If you really want to break it down, I think it’s the first note I play, I miss the whole string completely, I was so excited,” admits the guitarist. “It made a sound that I’ve never even heard before, like a kick drum mixed with a guitar note mixed with a car accident!”
There’s an adage that it’s the notes that you don’t play that count the most as a musician, but this is a good argument for expanding it to include the notes you don’t intend to play. For his part, Bettencourt says he’s definitely learned to embrace such accidents.
“My 18-year-old self would have fixed that,” reflects Bettencourt. “But now I was like, ‘Oh my God, I couldn’t recreate that if I wanted to.’ It went through me, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
It’s quite something to think that the passage as we know it – one that has already been firmly established as one of the finest solos of the 21st century – could have been left on the cutting room floor. Fortunately, it made the final edit – and six-string history, in the process.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bettencourt confesses that the reaction took him completely by surprise.
“When Rise came out, we thought, ‘OK, decent song, decent guitar solo’, but the reaction that it got was something else,” says the Extreme man.
“When Rick Beato posted his video breaking down the solo, and he’s saying that Steve Lukather’s calling, and his brother is calling and Phil X is calling saying, ‘Have you heard the Nuno solo?’, it was really surreal for me.
“It’s that scenario that you fantasise about as a kid. He’s saying things like, ‘Other than Eddie [Van Halen], he’s the guy!’ You’re like ‘OK, hold on a second!’ I had people I admire texting me, like Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Brian May reaching out and talking about it. You have to take a step back and go, ‘What’s actually happening here?’”
It’s particularly surprising given Extreme haven’t even released their new record: Six already seems to have cut through like nothing else the band has done since Pornograffiti, yet it isn’t out until next week (June 9).
What’s more, Rise isn’t even the guitarist’s personal highlight – that honor belongs to Extreme’s latest single, Other Side Of The Rainbow, which Bettencourt says contains his favorite solo of the album.
For more from Nuno – including his thoughts on the state of lead guitar, his tonal trademarks and his insight on the guitars behind Six – head to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Total Guitar – and keep an eye out for a very special issue of Guitar World, which arrives June 13…