7 and 8 string shredder. Rusty speaks with us about his early years, his band Outworld and more.
November 18, 2005
Guitarhoo!: Hello Rusty, and welcome to guitarhoo! Who were your early influences?
Rusty Cooley: Thanks! In the beginning it was Rhoads, Malmsteen, Vai, Gilbert, Moore and Macalpine.
G!: How old were you when you started playing guitar?
RC: I got my first guitar for my 15th birthday.
G!: Do you play any other instruments?
RC: No not really.
G!: Did you ever take guitar lessons? If so, for how long?
RC: I took one month from one guy when I first got my guitar and I never practiced what he showed so he dropped me after the first month. He was trying to teach me Mel Bay book one and open chords and I just wasn’t interested. So he recommended to my Mom that I take from his friend and it was basically the same thing so I quit after two lessons and that was about it. After that I taught myself through Doug Marks Metal Method and Ted Green’s chord Chemistry and Modern Chord Progressions book. I also took music theory in high school. I tried lessons a couple of other times but never really found an instructor that could give me what I was looking for. What really helped was when REH started put out instructional videos with the Shrapnel guys like Gilbert, Howe, MacAlpine, Taffolla, Kotzen. I also studied Frank Gambale, Scott Henderson, Don Mock, Joe Diorio and Robben Ford’s video’s and books.
G!: What was the first song you ever learned?
RC: Well the first riff I ever learned was Smoke On The Water but to this day I have never really played whole songs by anyone.
G!: You have insane speed! How did you develop this? Any tips you can share?
RC: Practice, motivation, desire! That’s about it, I was totally driven as a kid to be as good as my hero’s. I practiced everyday and still try to now but it’s pretty impossible.
G!: You use 7 and 8 string guitars. Was it difficult to switch from a 6 string? Does it ever feel weird to play a 6 string now?
RC: Not really. I would have to say it probably took a good six months or so to feel totally at home on my 7 string. The change to 8 string was much more difficult than 6 to 7. I think it’s because with the high A string you have to deal with the string transference of the B and G string everything kind of moves over. Even though I haven’t played six string for myself since I started playing 7 string in 96 I can still pick up a 6 and feel comfortable. I have to tune up all of my students guitars on a daily basis and when I play acoustic it feels completely normal. I also played 6 string for probably about 12 years before playing 7.
G!: What gear are you currently using? (guitars, amps and fx)
RC: Well let me just make a list: Rocktron Prophesy preamp, VHT power amp, Mesa Boogie power amp, Bogner Uberschall. DBX Dual gate, TC Electronic G Major, Eventide harmonizer, Bradshaw switching system, Ibanez flanger and tube screamer, 4 Mesa Boogie cabs, Ibanez 7 and 8 string guitars, Conklin 8 string guitar, EMG pickups, GHS strings. I think that’s it.
G!: Your solo cd has some amazing shredding. Any plans for an other solo cd?
RC: Thanks! Nope not at the moment Outworld keeps me busy.
G!: You have played on loads of other projects as a guest soloist, (and these are scary). Do you have a favorite guest lead that you have done (because you used a new technique or a scary new lick)?
RC: Nothing particular but I do like some of the stuff I did on the Book of Reflections cd. I think the stuff on the new Outworld cd is probably the best stuff yet. It shows more of my playing as a guitarist in a band not a solo guy just going for it the whole time.
G!: There is a rumor that you have jammed with John Petrucci. Have you? (I do hear some Rusty Cooley type licks on his solo cd and DT’s last few cd’s)
RC: I am friends with John he’s really a great guy but we haven’t actually been able to get together and play. I look forward to it though. When we first met I sent him a copy of my cd and all of my instructional stuff so he might of picked up a lick or two.
G!: Are there any famous Guitarists you would like to jam with? And why?
RC: Yeah tons! Why? because I love sitting down and trading licks with great guitar players, it’s very inspiring. Here’s a few, some of them are not that famous or have passed away. John Petrucci, Jeff Loomis, Steve Vai, Rhoads, Shawn Lane, Jason Becker, Todd Duane, Derek Taylor, Ron Thal.
G!: Any plans for a Rusty Cooley signature Ibanez 7 or 8 string guitar?
RC: Not at the moment but I hope someday. I think I have a lot to offer in ways to improve a guitars playability.
G!: How do you see the state of guitar these days?
RC: I think it’s really coming back strong but this time through really heavy music like Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Unearth, Avenged Sevenfold, Children Of Bodom, Soil Work, Meshuggah. These bands are all doing guitar solo’s and because of it kids are really wanting to learn how to play and well. They want to learn soloing techniques, theory and at the same time not sacrifice good song writing.
G!: Your band Outworld Rocks! When the cd comes out will you be touring?
RC: Thanks! Yes we will be touring probably in Europe to begin with and then we’ll see how it goes from there. There will also be a possibility of doing a few dates with Dream Theater in the US too!!
G!: I place yourself, Michael Romeo, Timo Tolkki at the forefront of the new shred movement. Are there any up and coming guys we need to look for?
RC: Yeah man keep your eyes on Jeff Loomis from Nevermore and Ken and Buz from Unearth. I really like the guy who plays in A Life Once Lost I’m not sure who he is though. As far as solo guitarist’s check out Shane Gibson he’s pretty smoking!
G!: Any advice for guitar players/musicians out there?
RC: Just sticks to your guns man and do what you do and forget about what other people say. Keep on pushing and trying to get better everyday.
G!: If you had to sum your musical journey into one phrase what would it be?
RC: I play guitar!!!
G!: Do you have any upcoming projects we should knows about?
RC: Well, the Outworld cd will be released in Feb/March of 2006 and I have a new instructional DVD called “Basic Training” that will be released hopefully before the end of the year at www.chopsfromhell.com
G!: What’s the funniest thing to ever happen to you because of guitar playing (on stage or off)?
RC: Probably getting recognized in public. I know that’s not funny ha ha kind of funny but it kind of makes me laugh in a good way of course. I’ll be out with my family at a restaurant or something and someone will come up and say hey are you Rusty Cooley?
Interview © 2005 Guitarhoo!