Rusty Cooley, man of few words, but of many notes! If you are a fan of shred guitar and prog/power metal, you should already be well aware of who Rusty is and of his great band Outworld. I spoke to Rusty about playing, teaching, endorsements, the new singer situation, and goals of the band.
Before this debut album with Outworld, I first heard of you online as an up and coming shredder. I think one of the first places I saw you was a year or 2 ago on youtube.com. When did you decide to work within a more vocally orientated band, and do you spend equal time on the band vs. your solo stuff/teaching?
I have always been into vocal bands more. It just so happens that my solo stuff is what first brought me some recognition. I was taking a break from playing with local musicians and being fed up with the scene I decided to do a solo guitar album. I don’t do solo stuff any more because I don’t have time for both and being a member of a band is much cooler than being a solo guitarist. I still teach, it’s great money.
Do you do much one on one teaching or is more time put towards teaching online lessons, writing columns (guitar world), and through DVD sales?
I teach privately as it‘s much more consistent. I have 6 DVD’s that bring in income every month.
Have you taught any students that made you think “damn he (or she) is gonna blow me away in a couple years!” ha!
I have seen a lot of potential but no one has followed through yet! Haha.
Have any of your students went on to form bands of their own that are making a name for themselves internationally?
I have students all over the world that are doing some very successful things. I teach a lot of guys that are already in some pretty big bands.
Care to drop a few names on us?
There are some famous guitar players out there that have studied my Chops From Hell instructional methods like Jeff Loomis from Nevermore, Oli Herbert from All That Remains, Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge/Creed, Buz McGrath and Ken Susi from Unearth, John Petrucci, Dream Theater, Chris Story from All Shall Perish and there are more than that. Those are just some of the guys who’s names come to mind.
Over the years, what shredders have you heard that have for one reason or another never made it and either disappeared or are still toiling in obscurity? An obvious (and deserving) answer would be Shawn Lane (RIP), so we have him ? But who else?
There are actually a lot of them for whatever reason just haven’t followed through with it and have decided to do something else or just playing different styles of music.
Beyond the obvious answer “because they offered”, why did you decide to work with Dean Guitars for the upcoming Rusty Cooley signature 7 string? Did you approach any other manufacturers?
They approached me I was completely happy with Ibanez because at the time they made the best 7 string. Elliott Rubinson at Dean contacted me we had a meeting and that was all it took. They offered to let me design the guitar 100% and do anything that I wanted and Ibanez wasn’t going to do that for me any time soon. And because of that now the best 7 string on the market is Dean! Dean is also going to build me both versions of my 8 string as well.
Are these type of guitar endorsements exclusive? For example, if Ibanez or ESP had interest in making a signature guitar with you – could you?
They are exclusive and I have found a place to call home Dean Guitars baby I ain’t going know where.
Why 7 strings anyway? Do you play them pretty much exclusively now or do you ever miss the normal 6-stringer?
I play 7 string exclusive and I don’t miss the 6 string ever because the 7 string still has the same 6 strings all other 6 string guitars have plus one more!
You’ve had an 8 and 9 string guitar made as well…that is insane! Did you enjoy those, or did the novelty wear off rather quickly?
Yeah I still play both of my 8 string guitars and they are both set up with different string arrangements. Dean is going to be making me both versions. It was no novelty, it’s very exciting and innovating to play these instruments.
What kind of practice regime do you maintain now, and how does that differ from when you were just starting out?
Well now I practice when I can find time as opposed to when I was a kid and didn’t have anything else to do.
How did you hook up with Outworld?
I started Outworld back in the late 90’s as an instrumental band and it has been through many changes through the years as well as a two year break up when I moved to Atlanta.
When you are writing material (solos/riffs), is there anything about it that makes it Outworld material vs. solo album?
Well when I’m doing solo stuff I’m going all out with guitar craziness, when I’m doing Outworld it’s about putting the guitar into the context of a song.
Do you every write something and figure “that’s too over the top” or the more excessive, insane, or fast, something is, the better?
No I just write and if it fits it stays and if it doesn’t it goes into the pile of gonna use someday.
I assume most of your fans are guitar players or at least musicians? Would you like to reach more of the metal listening world and if so, do you think you’d have to water anything down to do so?
That’s exactly why I like playing in a band as opposed to solo because it brings in more fans. I do what’s best for the song no matter what.
Do you ever feel a dilemma or a struggle of playing something that is memorable and melodic vs. something that is insane jaw-dropping fast; however after the first 10 seconds becomes mind numbing to most?
No I play the way I like because as soon as you start worrying about what everyone else thinks you have lost. Someone is always going to have something bad to say so do what makes you happy.
Do you find playing slow, boring…and listening to slow players…boring?
Yeah for the most part it bores me to death to listen to slow players however there are some guys that do it great like Malmsteen, Shawn Lane and Jason Becker. I like to play slow just in the right places.
Tell me about this DVD you’ve been filmed for called “Cracking The Code” about how people shred so fast. I read they used high-speed cameras to analyze what’s going on when you’re playing up to speed. Did you learn anything new about your playing or get any ideas for filming your own DVD videos with that approach? Also, when does this DVD come out?
I really don’t have a lot of info on it you need to check out Troy’s website: http://www.troygrady.com.
If you had to pick ONE thing to attribute the bulk of your guitar talent to, what would you pick: practice, natural talent, physical make-up…
Tell me a bit about how you found new Outworld vocalist, the Brazilian, Carlos Zema.
One of Bobby’s friends made us aware of Carlos and I emailed him immediately and asked him if he wanted to join the band and that was it. We just had to deal with all of the bs of relocating him here from Brazil.
Has Carlos moved to your area so you can rehearse/jam and do live shows?
Carlos will arrive in the US on February 10th!
It’s seems unfortunate that you are replacing vocalists right at the release of Outworld’s debut CD with vocalist Kelly Carpenter. Did the timing of his departure put a bit of a damper on things or make you even for a minute thing about re-doing any of the vocals with Carlos?
This whole thing was brought on by Kelly. We did not want this to happen especially at the time of a cd release. It was incredibly disappointing but Kelly left us no choice he told us that if he got the gig in Masterplan he was taking it and the rest was up to us. I had no intention of redoing any vocals the cd was done and had already taken to long to finish I just wanted it out so we could move on to bigger and better things.
You must be anxious to record something with your new vocalist so fans can hear him properly with the band on original Outworld material?
Oh yeah we are ready to get going we have a lot of new material. I really don’t want to talk about it too much I want it all to be a surprise.
What kind of live touring do you have planed for Outworld or yourself (solo/clinics) in the coming months?
There’s not a lot we have too much work to do when Carlos gets here.
Will you be taking Outworld across North/South America or to Europe any time soon?
I would love too but we’ll need to get the right support behind us to do that.
Being such a phenomenal guitarist, do you every find it hard to enjoy the playing of, shall we say, “lesser” guitarists whose ability isn’t mind-blowing and whose technique is far from perfect? If so, what players or bands would you like to mention that you like?
Thanks! I don’t think it would be appropriate to mention people that I like under those circumstances.
Since you are one of the better shredders I’ve heard in a while, perhaps you wouldn’t mind giving us a few words about some of the other great metal shredders like Paul Gilbert, Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Kiko Loureiro (Angra), Jason Becker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Angelo, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai…
I think all of those guys are great! Gilbert, Malmsteen and Becker are three of my biggest influences. And I love Nevermore, Loomis is a badass and a hell of a nice guy!
What are your thoughts on the g3 tours, have you seen any of them live? Is that something that one day you’d like to do or is it something you would consider doing on your own even (with it’s own name of course!).
I think it’s great bringing instrumental music to the masses. It would be cool to do for sure.
What’s next for Outworld and Rusty Cooley?
To get another cd under our belt and get out there and tour the world!