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Rusty Cooley Interview

What led to you getting a guitar?

Me and a couple of friends had been jamming to some records with tennis rackets. And we got this brilliant idea one day, like “how about we get some real guitars?”

Do you remember the first song you played?

Yeah it was ‘Smoke on the water’.

I knew you were gonna say that. I think that’s everybody’s first song.

Yeah pretty much.

If it’s not that then its ‘Sweet child o’ mine’. One of those.

Yeah, or something from Metallica.

So who were you influenced by at the time? Who were u listening too?

My very first influence was Iron Maiden. I was really into Iron Maiden. I was into Adrian Smith. I wanted one of those Ibanez Destroyers he played. And I was into normal stuff like that at first, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath. But when I discovered Randy Rhoads, that was my first real guitar hero. The first 3 years I played guitar it was Randy Rhoads or die. I would make cassette tapes of all his solos from the Ozzy albums. Solo after solo, not the songs. Just so I could listen to the solos.

So were you able to listen to them and copy them from ear?

When I first started to learns songs I discovered after 5-10 minutes that I would come up with 3 or 4 of my own riffs by trying to figure out theirs. So at that point I discovered, well, I can write just being inspired or influenced by who I was listening to. But I did learn a ton of Randy’s solo’s from indirect sources. So, there was a course called Metal Method. And their lessons were in the style of Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen. And in the Randy Rhoads lesson, they taught that if you put all the licks in the right order they ended up being solos from his songs. So I ended up learning indirectly the solos for ‘Over the Mountain’ SATO’ ‘Diary of a madman’ and several other songs. And I learnt them note for note. ‘Revelations mother earth’ was another great one. And I ended up learning some Van Halen solos. And shortly after that there was a magazine called ‘guitar for the practicing musician’ that came out and it had guitar tabs. And that was the first magazine that had guitar tabs

That was actually the magazine that Buckethead was first in too.

Yes! I have that article. He doesn’t have his mask on, as Brian Carroll with the long pinky finger extension. I still have that. The column was called ‘resume’.

It’s crazy how far ahead that magazine was.

Yeah, absolutely! So Randy was my first guy and after Randy it was Yngwie Malmsteen. I remember the first time I heard Yngwie, my friend was like “dude, you gotta hear this guy on the radio”. They were playing Yngwie’s Steeler solo ‘Hot on Your Heels’. And, me and my friend were fighting over the headphones to hear it and my other friend yanked the headphones out and said “here! You can both listen dumb asses!” So that was my first experience with Yngwie. That Steeler solo sent me back to practice and changed my life forever.

Did you ever get a chance to meet him?

I’ve never met him personally. I saw him play on the Rising Force tour in Houston and got his autograph. But indirectly. He wouldn’t come off the bus to sign autographs. He wouldn’t interact with anybody.

That doesn’t sound like Yngwie. Haha.

Right! And one time not too long ago. 5 or 6 years ago. I was at the NAMM show in Anaheim and all of a sudden someone slams into me. And I turn around and it’s Yngwie. So, me and Yngwie ran into each other. And he didn’t even turn around to see who he ran into.

Of course yeah!

I just turned around and went ‘Oh that’s Yngwie. He almost knocked me over’. So that’s my closest experience to meeting Yngwie.

So do you think he is as bad as people say?

Honestly I think there is both sides to it because I have friends who have met him and had great experience’s hanging out with him. Saying he was the coolest. Like, a security guard was trying to get one of my friends out of there and Yngwie said “No, he’s with me. He’s okay. Let him stay”. And then I’ve heard horror stories. So, I don’t know from first hand he’s either way because I haven’t experienced it.

When was the first time you started performing? You were playing in school, right?

Yeah, I played in the high school talent show in 10th grade. I played ‘Eruption’ and the solo to ‘Revelations Mother Earth’. Man, I just walked out there. It was my first time in front of an audience and I had no stage fright. I just went out there and owned it. It was really cool.

What was the reaction?

It was very good, man. The high school was full. There were people in the aisles watching. I did notice something early on that will stick with me though. Which was, most people that aren’t musicians don’t get all the technical stuff. Example, when I’m playing the technical stuff I was getting that stone faced look from the audience. But as soon as I hit a dive-bomb on guitar everybody went “Yeah!!” like it was the coolest thing ever. But I could’ve just given them my guitar and anybody can play that.

Yeah! Or play ‘Smoke on the Water’.

Right! So right then I kind of got an understanding of what was to come futuristically speaking. As far as what your average person off the street understands and doesn’t understand. Sounds effects is more impressive than being technically proficient at your instrument apparently.

Yeah, it’s bizarre to me. But, there you go. So what was your first band?

My first band was a band called ‘Dreamer’ and it was me and a good friend of mine that Im still friends with today called Kareem Kay. He’s a great guitar player. Later on, me and the same guitar player formed a band called ‘Revolution’ which is what I consider to be my first member. It was kind of a mix of ‘Racer X’ and ‘Skid Row’.

I saw on your Youtube channel the song ‘Billy X’ by Revolution.

Yeah, that’s right!

You’re like 17 or 18, it blows my mind.

Yeah, my influences at the time were Yngwie. And then I heard Paul Gilbert with Racer X ‘Street Lethal’ and it was like “Oh my god. This is like an American version of Yngwie”. I was hooked, man. I’ve worn out several copies of ‘Street Lethal’.

Have you had the chance to meet Paul Gilbert?

Again, not officially. I met him one time in Houston years ago. Over 20 years ago. He was at a Houston guitar show and I bumped into him.

So HE did turn around when you bumped into him?

Haha yeah, he did actually. But yeah, at the time I was a kid. There was no internet. I had nothing substantial that he would consider worth checking out.

So what do you think about all these guys who are still out there performing, like Yngwie and Paul Gilbert?

I think it’s great! The internet has been an interesting enigma because it’s been great for some people and it’s been not so great for other. Because there’s a lot of musicians out there who are starving now because of the internet. There’s a whole generation of fans who don’t know that you actually buy music.

Yeah!

You know what I mean?

I definitely know, yes!

And if anybody dares to speak up about it we’re scolded.  As if we did something wrong when its our music that’s being ripped off.

For me, I prefer CD’s and Vinyl’s. I like to have a book in my hand. I like to read lyrics if there is lyrics. I like to see the pictures.

Yes! You wanna read the liner notes.

So how did you come to start playing the 7 string guitar?

When the 7 string first came out, the first one I was aware of was the Ibanez. Even though they’ve been around for way longer than that. Jazz guys were playing it in the 1940’s and 50’s I think. The store I was teaching at got 3 of them. So I bought one of them. I got it early 1996. It was the Ibanez universe.

Like, you’re the first one I really remember seeing playing a 7 string. I don’t remember anyone before that. Obviously, you said there was. But you were the first guy I saw playing one.

Wow. Oh, cool. That’s cool, man. Awesome. Yeah, the first guy I knew of was Steve Vai on the ‘Passion and Warfare’ album. When they released them I couldn’t afford one.

Have you seen the 20 string guitars?

I haven’t seen a 20 string yet, I’ve seen an 18 string one.

There’s this guy on Youtube, I don’t know if you know him, called Stevie T?

Yeah, I know Stevie T. And Jared Dines did the 18 string guitar.

Yeah, now someone made a 20 string and sent it to him.

Yeah, I mean that’s pretty much ridiculous.

Yeah, it’s very ridiculous.

It’s a gimmick. Let me see you play that on an everyday basis.

I definitely think you could play it though.

Yeah, I mean you can do anything you set your mind to.

True. So we won’t see you with an 18 or 20 string?

No, it’s just a gimmick. It’s a Youtube anomaly. Like, ‘great, now I have a 25 string’.

Yeah, when does it end, right? So what’s the hardest technique you’ve had to learn on guitar? The one that took the longest?

For me, the hardest to develop, which I’m still developing, is 8 finger tapping. Using all 8 fingers. When I say 8 finger tapping. I don’t mean 1 finger at a time. I mean rolls, using all 8 fingers in a roll. That’s hard! That’s way harder than doing single digit tapping.

So how many hours a day would you put into practicing when you were first starting?

By the time I graduated high school, about 3 or 4 hours a day. And I actually started teaching guitar when I was a senior in high school. When I started playing guitar it was like a light switch went off. My whole personality changed. It was a hard adjustment for my parents and friends to get used to because I went from being a popular outgoing kid to going home and going to my room and playing guitar.

But that’s essentially what it takes.

Right! Like, ‘send my meals to my room’. And I lost a lot of friends quickly when I answered the phone like “What!! I’m trying to practice”. So, I quickly went from being popular to unpopular. Which I couldn’t care less about. It saved me from getting into trouble actually.

Did you start growing the hair as soon as you started playing guitar?

I wanted to but my dad was an ex-military guy and my mom was a beautician. So my dad was like ‘you either get in that chair and let your mom cut your hair or I’m cutting it!’ But once I turned 18 it was like ‘hey, im growing my hair’. And when I graduated from high school that’s when the practicing increased. I would get up in the morning, practice all day, then teach guitar, then come home and practice and then go to band rehearsal. So it was about 12 hours a day playing.

So you mentioned Steve Vai earlier, you’ve met Steve, right? How was he?

I met Steve a couple of times. The first time, was about 2 months after I saw Yngwie play on the Rising Force tour. Alcatraz with Steve Vai were playing and I got to see Vai up close and I met him and we talked for about 5-10 minutes after the show. And he signed my cassette I had. It was a cool experience. Again, I was just a kid. Long before the internet. He was very nice, very polite. Then I met him years later. He was doing this thing called ‘guitar in the round’ and I met him again then and said ‘Hi’ and had a picture with him. And that was pretty much it.

Was he as charismatic and flashy off stage?

Off stage he was very much just a regular guy and pretty much during that experience he was pretty casual.

Have you ever met a musician or celebrity who’s turned out to be terrible? Someone who you wish you’d never met?

Um…Yes! There isn’t that many of them and I don’t wanna mention any names because I don’t do that. But there have been a couple of guys I’ve met where I’ve though ‘wow, you’re just an asshole’.

Did you get that impression before you met them?

No, I never got that impression beforehand. I don’t care what anybody says about anybody. If I haven’t met them I’m not going to take that as truth. Because, I’ve experienced that myself where people that I don’t even know and who I’ve never met just think ‘Rusty Cooley’s an asshole’ and it’s like ‘why? I’ve never met you’.

Is it mostly guitar players that are the cooler ones?

Well, they’re the only ones I want to meet anyway. Most of the guitar players that are really seriously great players that everybody knows, that I’ve met, are all very cool. And most musicians of that caliber are always super cool. They don’t have anything to prove. If anything, they wanna sit down with you and see what they can learn and vice versa. It’s not a competition or ego thing.

Yeah, they always wanna learn.

That’s the way it should be. We’re not in completion with each other. Music isn’t a sport.

True, very true. So, how did the ‘Chops from Hell’ VHS tapes come about? Because that was the first time I had seen or heard of you was from those tapes.

Right! I knew about the website and I contacted them and said ‘what does it take to put out something with your company’ and they said ’we like your playing so let’s do it’ and I set up a tripod and sat in front of it.

And just played.

And on one of the later tapes, you can actually hear my daughter.

Yes!

She’s almost 19 years old now! So at the time she was in a crib in the next room and you could hear her yelling at the TV as I was filming. And Chris from the ‘Chops from Hell’ people asked if I wanted to edit it out. And I said ‘No’. Because this is my life. This is what it’s really like to be me. And I left that in there on purpose because I wanted people to know.

That It’s not always a celebrity life.

Right! It’s not. This is me on an everyday basis. I’m a father, I take care of my kids. And at the same time I’m trying to become proficient at my instrument and be productive and do this. And I’m doing it all myself.

So how many children do you have?

I’ve got 2. My son is 24 and my daughter will be 19 in October.

Are they musical or not?

Yes, they both are. As a matter of fact my daughter contacted me saying she was thinking of getting back into vocal lessons. And my son originally played guitar and drums. But now he’s into a lot of this DJ/Producer kind of stuff. Which I give him a hard time about because it’s not really my thing. And I don’t wanna discourage him because its music. But at the same time I have to give him a hard time, like “Sebastian, a turntable is not an instrument” “Yeah but dad, I gotta drop beats in on certain times” “Sorry son, it’s not an instrument. It’s not an instrument. Go back to your drums”.

Will we see a family albums soon or not?

I don’t know about soon but that would be awesome to do one day.

So how did your first album come about?

That first album came about at the right time for the internet to start to bloom.

2003/2004?

Yep! And the first thing the world ever got to hear me as was an instrumental guitar player. I only meant that instrumental album to be a temporary thing until I got back into a band. I never set out to be an instrumental guitarist. But the first thing the world heard me as was Rusty Cooley solo guitarist. And that’s a hard thing to get rid of. Not that it’s a bad thing.

It was what you were labelled as.

Yeah. The internet is an interesting enigma. The best way to describe it is ‘short attention span theater’. I did my instrumental album and then put together this band called Outworld. Which was a vocal band. Which is what I prefer. But you would amazed by the amount of people who profess to be your fans, but they go to your website and Outworld is everywhere on my website, and at the time Myspace, and they would say “oh, you’re in a band?”.

And I’m sure Paul Gilbert and all them get the same. Like “Oh, you were in a band?”

Yeah, right? So that always baffles me.

So what was the hardest song on the album?

The Butcher.

I knew you were gonna say that.

Yeah. The Butcher. The song title came from a nickname we gave it at rehearsal. Which was ‘let’s see if we can get through this tonight without butchering it’. That song is definitely the hardest song on the album. It’s got everything and the kitchen sink thrown in there. Its nuts, dude.

Is it your favorite song on the album?

I don’t know. It’s definitely one my favorites. Every one of the songs has a special place in my heart. Like the other night I was listening to ‘Jazzmines song’ off the album for the first time in years. And I was like ‘wow, that’s so much better than I remember it’. I don’t know how you are with your music but when I write music it takes me a long time to like my stuff.

Like you always want perfection that you can never reach anyway.

Yes, absolutely.

Do you still play the songs?

No, I don’t. I don’t go back and play them unless there’s a reason because I’m trying to keep going forward. They would benefit me to practice because I can’t play some of those songs anymore. If I had to go play ‘The Butcher’ I don’t know how long it would take to get that technique level back again. I’ve recently had some left hand issues I’m working with now. It’s really frustrating. A friend of mine who is in the nutrition industry has given me some supplements to take. It’s like the first time in my life I’ve ever had to warm up before playing. That doesn’t mean I can pick it up and go play ‘The Butcher’ live. I’ve got stiffness in my hands and fingers. I don’t like it at all. I’m working with supplements and doing warm ups.

Do you think that because of the natural age thing? Or from the years of playing and hours and hours and hours?

You know, I’m not 100% sure. I’ve been racking my brain about it. I noticed that it started to happen when I started playing my acoustic guitar more. Which is a steel string. And I started teaching more on a telecaster style guitar in standard tuning. I normally play half step down. So, when I started playing on that telecaster more in standard tuning, that’s when I noticed things start to change. And I don’t know if it has to do with me developing a heavier touch in standard tuning. Or if maybe because I don’t have the time to practice as much as I used to in combination with the getting older thing. But I’m really practicing and working harder to stay more consistent on a daily basis to try and get this out of the way because I don’t like this at all. It’s frustrating. And I don’t like picking up my guitar and not being able to play it.

Well yeah, that’s you, you’re a guitar player.

Right. It’s been frustrating. So, check back with me in a few months.

So what are the supplements?

A good friend of mine is Lee Labrada, a former Mr Universe. He owns a supplement company called Labrada nutrition. And he’s got me on a supplement called ‘Elastyjoint’ for your joints. And he has got me on another one. And he recommends taking Ibuprofen before playing to reduce swelling or inflammation. And another good thing to take is Nitric Oxide. What it does, for bodybuilders, it allows their blood vessels to dilate in their arms so that you can get bigger pumps when lifting weights. So that you can build bigger muscles. If you take Nitric Oxide before practice it well help you play longer before stiffening up and it will make your muscles expand so you can get more blood through them so that you don’t stiffen up so quickly.

So, obviously we do a lot of Buckethaed stuff on our channel and you’ve listed him as an influence. When did you first hear of Buckethead?

Well, the first time I heard of Buckethead was in that ‘guitar for the practicing musician’ magazine. But I only saw the picture, I hadn’t heard him play. But I Imagine the first time I heard him play was in the early 1990’s. I remember being completely blown away. It was ‘Praxis’ the first thing I heard from him.

Everybody says that, about how good that band was.

Yeah, Transmutation, Metatron, Sacrifist (Praxis albums). And I had a friend from Japan send me Bucketheads first album, the double CD one.

Bucketheadland.

Yeah, then I got the ‘Giant Robot’ album. He’s amazing. He’s a sick player. My favorite stuff by him is the crazy atonal stuff.

Oh yeah, the nubbing.

Yeah! It sounds like your computer is crashing.

What did you think of the mask and bucket?

I didn’t think too much about it. I thought it was cool, it is what it is. I didn’t have much thought either way.I just thought ‘oh cool, its Buckethead’

It’s bizarre when people say that the  mask is silly and that they don’t listen to him because it’s silly. It’s bizarre.

Oh that’s retarded. That’s retarded. That’s like saying I don’t want to listen to ‘KISS’ because they have makeup on.

Yes! That’s the kind of crap I deal with on Youtube every day.

Yeah, I don’t understand that. You don’t have to listen with your eyes.

Exactly!

Listen with your ears. It’s just like the Yngwie thing. People saying Yngwie’s an asshole. Regardless of that, I can’t deny his music. His playing has influenced my life and changed me as a person forever because of is playing. His personality doesn’t change me. His music changes me. And that’s what matters. What we can say with our music.

So will we ever see you on stage with some nunchucks?

(Laughs) I don’t think so, man. Probably not. I’ll play it safe and leave those to Buckethead.

And you met him at the NAMM show, right?

I did, man. And I kind of met him before that but not in person. I actually wrote him a letter and he wrote back. And I still have the letter where he signed it as Buckethead. It was all scribbly and stuff. And then I met him at ‘NAMM’ and took a picture with him. And I had him sign something. And when I met him I didn’t expect him to acknowledge me or recognize me because I don’t expect anyone to know who I am. But as I turned and walked off he kind of nudged me, looked at me and winked and that’s was enough acknowledgment I needed. It was cool. And Bootsy was there.

Did you meet Bootsy Collins?

Yeah I got a picture with Bootsy too.

How was he?

He was super cool, man. Both of them. And Buckethead was sitting there with this little baby.

Yeah! I was going to ask what you thought of the baby.

Its crazy man. It’s crazy that he can follow through with that character. I don’t know if I could do that. That takes commitment.

Yeah, and for so long.

Yeah like when he does the hand puppet thing and says “here’s the nubbing licks” and scrapes the wall. That’s awesome.

What would you say are some of his best songs? Because obviously you were influenced by him.

Anything Buckethead is going nuts on I like. One of my favourite albums of his is the one with Les Claypool on, where it starts off with the Michael Jordan quote at the beginning of the first song on the album

Oh, Monsters & Robots!

I gotta keep on trying every day to get better. Keep on pushing.

Jump Man!

Yeah, that’s Jump Man!

That’s probably one of my favorites. But I also like ‘Cobra Strike’ too. I think that’s what it’s called.

That’s it, yes! Him and Brain.

I like that album a lot, there’s some cool stuff on there. And I like that album ‘Nashville’ or ‘Tennessee’ or something?

Oh yeah, Tennessee. The Praxis album.

Dude, I love that album too. I just recently got that one, within the last year. He’s playing some Jimi Hendrix stuff on there. It almost feels like a tribute to Shawn Lane.

Yeah! I was going to ask you next about Shawn.

Yeah Shawn Lane is one of my biggest influences ever. Yeah.

Did you ever get to meet him?

Yeah I got to meet him. I met him in Atlanta. I lived in Atlanta for a few years. He played in a place called Earth shaker music. He played in this music store where they had this room in the back. But I got to see him that night perform live, up close. It was great. I got to meet him briefly and had him sign my ‘Powers of Ten’ Live CD. I was in line so it wasn’t like I could get to talk to him or be rude and stand there and hold everyone up.

So what are some of your favorite songs from him?

I like, from ‘Powers of Ten’ I love ‘Paris’ and ‘Gray Pianos Flying’.

Epilogue?

I like the instructional video version. And the album version too. I was listening to that earlier today. And then, I love ‘Rice with the Angels’.

He’s basically never done anything bad, so…

Right! Right!

How did you come to work with Michael Angelo Batio?

I’ve known MAB for years. The band I was in called ‘Revolution’ opened up for his band ‘Nitro’ when they came through Houston. When I heard MAB guitar picking on ‘Freight Train Coming’ I was like ‘Wow!’.

Yeah, ridiculous!

Right! So that sent me back to practice.

Were you in the same studio when you recorded the track for his album?

No, I was in Houston.

So, you never got to have a speed test or pick test?

No but there is some documentation online. I’m not sure if you know Troy Grady and the ‘Cracking the Code’ series?

Oh yeah, I know.

Well, I read an interview with Troy and he was talking about my picking. He said I easily come in 10 to 15 notes faster than Batio or Petrucci on any given time. Based on a scientific study. Because he’s worked with Batio and Petrucci and me. And it came up in an interview. He said ‘Cracking the Code’ isn’t about a speed test, it’s about how we alternate pick. He said based on observation of my videos and Batios videos and Petruccis, mine was easily 10 to 15 notes faster.

So, how was MAB? What is he like?

Mike is a super cool dude, you know? He’s just a nice guy. I can’t put it any better way than that. Good dude, loves to play guitar like we all do. He’s very infused and excited about music.

Is he another one that people just don’t understand? They think ‘oh he’s fast and that’s it’.

I would definitely say that. It’s an unfair bias. Because when you start getting put into that category, then for whatever reason people just start shutting off that fact that you make music. I’ve had my entire career based off of one lick that I taught on one website. Like “oh, Rusty can’t bend notes” “He has no feel or vibrato” and it’s like “oh, I just saw that one lick on that one website. I’ve never heard any of his music”.

Same shit I deal with when it comes to Buckethead. Like ‘Oh I heard him shredding and he’s just a fast player. Forget the 400 albums and thousands of songs’.

Exactly. It baffles me to this day. I remember when Yngwie first came out and guitar players would say “he just plays fast and has no feeling”. I feel Yngwies music tremendously. He’s got some of the best phrasing and feeling I’ve heard. Period.

I think part of it is jealously. They know they could never reach that level.

Yeah and I don’t understand that. Because it’s like you see people that go and out and insult people. For me, I’m not gonna go somewhere I don’t wanna be. I’m gonna go where I wanna be. I’m not gonna go to a bands website that I don’t like. I’m gonna go to one I do like and talk to people that share the same interest.

Yeah, be positive and productive.

Right! I have no interest in negativity. Either go where you wanna be or don’t go.

Exactly. Again, with the Buckethead thing videos. I don’t get why if you don’t like him, don’t comment on the video. Why are you here?

Yeah. One of the things that helped me understand how the whole internet works is when I saw someone insulting Shawn Lane’s music. Like, what?! I didn’t understand that. Like ‘Wow, someone can say something bad about Shawn Lane?’

And they’ve probably never heard him, they just want a reaction.

Yeah! And people go out there to do that because they got nothing better to do. So, for all the haters out there. I give them something to do. If it wasn’t for me they’d have to find someone else to hate.
God forbid, what would they do if they didn’t have me to hate on.

Just hate on themselves. So, you mentioned John Petrucci earlier. How did you meet him?

In guitar one magazine there was column called ‘the 10 fastest shredders of all time’.

Oh, I think I seen that.

And I came in at number 7 and John was 9 or something. And John is friends with a friend and they were talking at NAMM one time and John asked the friend ‘Who’s this Rusty Cooley guy?’ From that point, we got in touch and we’ve been friends ever since.

And how is he? Super nice guy?

Absolutely, man. John is a totally cool guy. I don’t normally say this about dudes, but he’s a gentleman. A teddy bear kind of guy. Very cool, outgoing, caring.

He seems that way in interviews I’ve seen.

He’s just super laid back and soft spoken. I can’t do my impression of him well, like ‘hey, how are you doing?’ He’s very focused and very aware of what he’s doing. Very professional.

And still out there doing it.

Yeah! And getting better. That’s what I look for in guitar players. My favorite guitar players are the ones where every album they put out it’s something new and something better.

So how did ‘Outworld’ come about?

Outworld was basically an extension of my instrumental album. Like I was saying earlier, I never planned on being a solo guitar player. So all the guys who performed with me on my solo album ended up being in Outworld. Everybody in the band was great, there was no weak links on the chain. It was awesome.

You and Carlos seemed the perfect fit.

Yeah, we worked together great, we still talk and talked about doing stuff together again. Who knows, man. We might see something eventually.

So how did ‘Day of Reckoning’ come about then?

Towards the end of ‘Outworld’ I began listening to heavier music and when I was in ‘Outworld’ no matter what I did, the vocals and keyboards sucked the heavy out of the riffs I was writing. So when Outworld came to an end, I thought this is my opportunity to explore this style of music to the fullest.

So what about another solo album?

I’m gonna take some of the stuff off the original solo album and redo some of the tracks so they can be heard the way I intended them to be heard. Because I had no budget before. Even with the remasters, it still wasn’t what I wanted. So I’ll redo some of the tracks and write some new stuff. And I want to put together an instrumental band so I can tour. I’ve missed some great touring opportunities with some great artists because I didn’t have a band. So I’m currently working on getting some of the old tracks redone so that I can either tour with backing tracks or a band.

If you could record an album with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

Oh wow, that’s crazy. The first person who came to mind was Randy Rhoads.

That would be insane.

That’s just the first person who came to mind. I dunno, man. It’s almost like I dunno if I’d want to record an album with another guitar player because they are my heroes and I don’t know if I’d have anything to contribute.

Oh you would, no doubt!

There’s singer I’d love to work with. I was always a big fan of the guy from TNT Tony Harnell, he was a great singer. Loved Bruce Dickinson’s vocals. Rob Halford from Judas Priest. Any of those.

How he sounds the same, I’ve no idea.

That’s why they call him the metal god.

True! So who would be on your Mount Rushmore when it comes to guitar players? (4 greatest players).

Definitely Shawn Lane, Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Randy Rhoads, Allan Holdsworth. Do I have to stop? The song ‘Under the Influence’ off my instrumental album is a tribute to my biggest influences at that time. Which was Paul, Jason and Yngwie. So that’s why that’s called ‘Under the influence’. It’s my tribute to Paul, Jason and Yngwie.

Have you ever had the chance to go out and meet Jason?

I met Jason on Cacophony’s second album tour. I got to Cacophony play live In Houston for that tour. And I met Jason and Marty backstage. And I got to talk with them. And one of the questions I asked Jason was “How did you write the beginning of ‘To Go Off’?” And he said “well, I took a drum machine pattern with 16th note double bass and randomly erased parts and then I went back and wrote riffs to it”. And I’ve talked to him through email and stuff. I did this thing with him called ‘guitars in the round’. It was me, Jason, Jeff Loomis, Richie Kotzen and John 5. Jason’s dad was there speaking for him and Jason was joking the whole time. I used to have a picture of Jason up in one of my teaching studios. And it was a picture of Jason in his wheelchair with all the tubes in him to help him breath and I used to use that as a reality check when I thought life was bad or shit wasn’t going right. I’ve experienced nothing like that. It couldn’t be that bad.

Yeah, always be thankful.

Exactly.

Alright, well. It’s been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much. I’ve loved listening to the stories and hearing you talk about all these other players. It’s been awesome. Much appreciated.

You’re very welcome. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

My pleasure. Okay, thanks a lot, man. Much appreciated.

Thanks a lot. Bye.

Thank you, brother.

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