When it comes to the definition of rock guitar virtuoso, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more fitting living embodiment than Mr Nuno Bettencourt. From the note-choice to the chops to the delivery and style—Nuno's got it all. Nowhere is that more evident than on Extreme's latest full-length release, 'Six,' out now worldwide via earMUSIC. In this issue's cover feature, Jonathan Graham catches up with the Extreme guitarist to discuss the band's first new full-length release since 2008's 'Saudades de Rock,' the importance of playing for the song, what he thinks of Brian May ranking him number one, and even shares a story about being visited by Eddie Van Halen while recording 'Six.'
It's been a minute since we heard some new material from Extreme; however, after 15 long years, the Boston-born outfit is back with a new record, 'Six', and what a much-needed return to form it truly is. The hype train kicked off earlier this year with the album's lead single, "Rise," featuring one of the most ridiculously entertaining guitar solos in recent memory and blowing the minds of players the world over. If Wolf Van Halen's turn on the Wembley stage was last year's electric guitar moment of the year, Nuno takes the cake in 2023...hands down.
It's the type of guitar solo we'd all love to be able to craft and pull off on cue. A mix of pure expression, rhythmic brilliance—and THAT "tendonitis section." Countless YouTubers have broken it down, offering considerable insights, yet its overall magic remains elusive, a sleight of hand we're all missing. However, that just adds to its brilliance. "Rise" has clocked up millions of views and counting since its debut in March, surely sending similar numbers of players back to their practice spaces to workshop their game. There is a feeling that Bettencourt—one of the most kinetic and dynamic players of his generation—has just upped the ante again, and that is incredibly inspiring.
That was one of the major principles behind Bettencourt's approach to 'Six.' As he explains, 'Six' was all about throwing things down with fucking energy, with commitment. The words fire and passion routinely crop up. The word "fuck" and variants thereof are used as punctuation, as you'll see in the video.
"When Eddie Van Halen passed, it really hit me," says Nuno. "I'm not going to be the one who will take the throne, but I felt some responsibility to keep guitar playing alive. So, you hear a lot of fire on the record."
Although a highlight, "Rise" is just a small piece of the puzzle that makes up 'Six.' "Whatever you think an Extreme album is after two or even three songs, it's not," states Nuno. "That goes for every record we've ever done. True Extreme fans know to 'expect the unexpected.' I feel like we need a good old-school rock album. 'Six' is definitely modern, but you can put on headphones and go on a journey from top-to-bottom. It's like 'Extreme 2.0'."
Subverting expectations is nothing new for Extreme. Ever since the band Formed in 1985, the Boston group's varied influences, coupled with their passion for saying something new with their music, has always set them apart—bringing them success without the constraints of being pigeonholed into a single style or genre. Extreme's quiet early grind resulted in the release of the self-titled debut in 1989. Among many highlights, "Play With Me" not only graced the soundtrack of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure but also decades later in the season four opener of "Stranger Things." Meanwhile, 'EXTREME II: Pornograffitti' bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 and eventually picked up a double-platinum certification. Of course, it notably spawned "Hole Hearted" (#4 on the Billboard "Hot 100") and the generational smash "More Than Words." The latter soared to #1 on the "Hot 100" and remains one of the most famous rock songs of all time with over half-a-billion streams and 633 million YouTube views and counting.
In its wake, the gold-certified 'III Sides To Every Story' saw them return to the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. Following up with 'Waiting for the Punchline' (1995) and 'Saudades de Rock' (2008), with sold-out tours supporting every release. Along the way, everyone from Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Brian May of Queen to John Mayer publicly sang their praises. On top of that, while Nuno has recorded and performed with Steven Tyler and Rihanna, Gary Cherone was lead singer for Van Halen ('Van Halen III') and has recorded and performed with Joe Perry.
"With Extreme, there's always a lot of passion and a little piss and vinegar," Gary says. "We're not in competition with anybody else, but we strive to outdo ourselves. There are some moments on this album where we did. We've managed to stay together after all these years. We feel like we have something to prove when we get on stage or in the studio. Because of that, I believe some of these songs are among the best we've written."
For the recording of the Nuno-produced 'Six,' the members buckled down at his home studio in Los Angeles. With the force of a wrecking ball, Extreme swing between unapologetic fits of fret-burning hard rock and intimately introspective balladry on the 12-track release, which also features future fan favourites such as "Other Side of the Rainbow," "#Rebel," and "X Out," channelling the electrifying eclecticism that defined their seminal output with a 21st-century twist.
This dynamic continues to affirm the iconic quartet as one of rock's most unpredictable, undeniable, and unbreakable groups whose songs course through the very fabric of popular culture. Let's just not keep us waiting 15 years for the next one...ok, lads?
EXTREME - 'SIX' Tracklist
Overwhelmed by the response to their latest album, "Six," Extreme has decided to give back to the generations of rock fans who have always supported them and helped keep rock alive.
"RISE: GENERATIONS ON A MISSION" is an alternate version of that video (directed by guitarist Nuno Bettencourt) and tells the story of two young musicians living the same dream which generations of rock fans and Extreme fans have lived and breathed for decades… creating music, playing music and sharing that passion on stage or in the audience.
SEE NUNO'S MISSION STATEMENT HERE.
SEE THE FULL VIDEO HERE.
As a part of this, Extreme and earMUSIC have created a space where fans, bands, and bands of friends spanning the years can come together and share their covers of "Rise." Extreme and earMUSIC's mission (should you choose to accept it…) is to share fans' "Rise" covers using their platforms to spread the word, reach the world and unite all generations on the journey to keep rock'n'roll alive.
As Nuno explains, "It is not a contest, and it is not a competition, but the winner is rock 'n' roll."
JOIN THE MISSION HERE.
Later this year, Extreme will be back on the road in the UK and Europe, supporting the new release "Six" at the following shows.
THICKER THAN BLOOD TOUR 2023:
Mon 27 - UK, Newcastle - o2 City Hall
Tue 28 - UK, Glasgow, o2 Academy
Thu 30 - UK Manchester, Academy
Fri 01 - UK, Wolves Civic
Sun 03 - UK, Bristol Academy
Mon 04 - UK, London, Forum
Thu 07 - France, Paris - Salle Pleyel
Fri 08 - Switzerland, Pratteln/Basel - Konzertfabrik Z7
Sun 10 - Germany, Berlin - Huxleys
Mon 11 - Germany, Cologne - Live Music Hall
Tue 12 - Holland, Amsterdam - Melkweg Max
Thu 14 - Belgium, Antwerp - Trix
Sat 16 - Italy, Milan - Alcatraz
Living Colour support for the UK, The Last Internationale support for the EU.
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