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Virtuosityone.com Interview: Rusty Cooley

Rusty Cooley has emerged in the last year as one of the hottest technical guitarists on the planet. His exploits on 7 and 8 string guitars are raved about across numerous websites and message boards, VirtuosityOne.com caught up with Rusty to get some insight into what makes this exciting musician tick. Rusty thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Your welcome

Lets start with how you initially got into music, what was the one key thing, be it a bit of music, seeing a picture or video that made you say "I have to get into this?".

Me and some of my friends had been playing air guitar to some Ted Nugent records but after a while that got boring some we bought some real guitars.

Are you self-taught or did you have starter lessons?

I consider myself to be self taught, although I did take a month of lessons with one guy when I got my guitar. After a month he told my Mom he couldn't work with me. I was the worst student I never practiced anything he gave me. It was really boring crap like Mel Bay book 1. He then pawned me off on his friend, after a half a month of that I quit because it was the same garbage. I taught myself from that point on first through Metal Method and Ted Green books. After that I studied theory in high school and college along with other books and instructional video's. One video that had the most impact was Paul Gilbert's first REH video, man that one was killer.

At what point did you start to realize you had facility on the guitar?

To be honest I'm really not sure.

Can you remember what was the first bit of music you nailed that got you even more inspired?

It was probably some of the Rhoads and Van Halen solo's I use to play in high school.

I believe an early band of yours opened for Badlands and Nitro, what did you pick up from supporting the likes of Jake E Lee and Michael Angelo?

Yeah that was Revolution. What did we learn? That it was alot of fun!!

What led you to delve into technical metal guitar?

I have always played technical. All of the guitar players back in the day played that way so I didn't know any different. Unlike today where kids learning are like solo's? what's that?

What made you get into 7-string guitar?

It was a very natural thing. The idea of having more creative outlet and range on the instrument makes sense. Also you don't have to do all kinds of different tunings to make your guitar heavier. With a 7 string you have all of the low end without even leaving A 440. Although I do tune my guitars down a half step just out of habit.

What influences in the field help shape your sound?

Currently I'm very into heavy bands like Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Meshuggah, Soil Work, and then bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X and for guitar players if would have to be Shawn Lane and Holdsworth . I'm very into the stuff Shawn did with Jonas Hellborg. I am also very into violinist's like Michael Rabin, Jascha Heifetz. Itzhak Perlman, Fritz Kriesler and there are a couple of newer guys like Joshua Bell and Gil Shaham.

I know you have a number of instructional DVD's available for purchase on the net, what do you put into them and what is your aim for the (cyber) student to walk away with?

All of my Roms are designed to give you a better understanding of the fretboard, Creative outlet for when your in a rut and better facility. They also give you direct application of each example so you can use it in real situations as soon as you get it down.

Can you give us a run down of key achievements prior to the release of your self-titled album on Lion Music?

Well here's a couple of things that seem to be important.

I won best guitarist in Houston. Opening for Badlands and Nitro was really cool. Runner up in a Jason Becker scholarship contest. Releasing three instructional cod roms. Being featured in Guitar One, Guitar Player, Guitar World and Axe Magazine, Getting musical equipment endorsements. Headlining Jemfest. Being offered a gig in Haji's Kitchen. I was on a ton of compilation cd's with some of the best guitar players in the world.

Speaking of the album, reviews have been generally great for it. Are you a little surprised given the current none decent guitar music world we now seem to live in?

No not really. I think people can appreciate good music when they hear it. I also make sure that it gets reviewed at places that support that kind of stuff. I'm mean I'm not going to send my cd to a Nu-Metal or punk magazine website for a review.

When did the recording for the album take place?

Between 2000, and 2002. I had some very unfortunate recording experiences with that cd that's why it took so long. I could have done the whole thing in a month or less.

What format did the recording take? Was it a live take, or was there a lot of flying in different instruments etc?

It was live. I did some of it in Houston then I finished a couple of the lead tracks in Atlanta.

What are your favorite performances from the album?

I like Under The Influence and Dark Matter.

As you know from virtuosityone.com’s review its an album I enjoyed a lot, Dark Matter has such a haunting melody that it just sticks in the head, are the slower pieces as important as the all out blazing?

Thanks! and yes the slower pieces are just as important. My cd doesn't have a lot of that on purpose not because I can't or don't enjoy it but because I had a goal in mind when I was writing for the cd. I wanted this cd to be one of the most intense instrument cd's ever. I was also trying to recreate a feeling for my listeners that I got when I was younger. Kind of the like the first time I heard Malmsteen, Gilbert , Becker or Lane.

Are you happy with the album?

Yes and no. I'm happy with about half of the guitar playing. I think the guitar tone is better on some tracks than others due to recording studio issues and as far as the over recording and mix I just got totally ripped.

What amps/rack etc did you use on the album and is there 1 piece of equipment that is vital to the "rusty cooley sound"?

I used a Fender M-80 PREAMP, a VHT power amp an Austin Gold overdrive and my Jackson 7 string plus one Marshall 4X12 cab and that's it. I think the M-80 is the secret to my tone on that cd. But at the moment I'm not even using it.

I know on the album you endorsed Jackson guitars, but I believe have recently switched to Ibanez, have you see any new instruments yet from the new partnership, if so what are they like?

True, Ibanez is building me a custom 7 string as we speak. I'm also using my Conklin 8 string on the majority of Outworld's material and I have a 9 string being built too.

What’s next on the musical horizon?

Outworld! That's my band. It has all of the crucial elements Dream Theater, Symphony X, Malmsteen, plus newer sounds like Nevermore, Arch Enemy and Mushuggah. I'm also going to be on a Shawn Lane tribute cd playing a very slow piece called Epilogue from Shawn's Powers Of Ten cd and I'm also on a cd called Book Of Reflections. Both cd's will be released by Lion Music in months to come.

Rusty, anything else you would like to tell the readers of virtuosityone.com?

Just thank you very much for all of the wonderful support.