Enjoy this great conversation with Rusty Cooley and make sure to get on my VIP list at the bottom of the page!
This was my longest interview to date! Rusty was an incredible guest and he really went into detail to give us an in-depth view on how he operates!
Rusty Cooley started playing guitar at 15. He fully immersed himself in it and eventually was known as one of the fastest guitar players in the world. He was primarily self taught and used instructional material to guide him along the way. His early musical influences were guitarists Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine.
After only three years of playing, he became a guitar teacher at the music store where he had purchased his first guitar. Rusty was one of the first guitarists to make a name for himself on the internet with his Chops From Hell instructional videos. His debut solo album was the self-titled Rusty Cooley, released in 2003 by Lion Music. It consists of 12 tracks, one of which, "Under the Influence", was released as a video as well. The album featured Cooley on guitar, Brent Marches on bass, Eric Sands on fretless bass, and Bobby Williamson on keyboards.
Rusty has more recently been playing with Day of Reckoning as well as working on material for his next solo album. Rusty has been teaching guitar since 1987 and continues to teach today! See the bottom of the page for a video promo for that.
Rusty Cooley officially announced on the show that he is working on a new instrumental record, so that he has something to tour with aside from his work with Day of Reckoning.
Rusty has been teaching guitar since 1987, since he was a senior in high school. Randy Rhodes, his hero, taught guitar. Rusty followed in his footsteps and did so as well.
On diet, Rusty tries to always have a complex carb and a protein at each meal. He eats about 4-6 meals a day.
On training, he has not been as consistent recently but is wants to bulk up when the time allows. He has taught Lee Labrada guitar, a prominent IFBB Pro bodybuilder. Lee has trained Rusty and coached him nutritionally over time.
Rusty is a hard-gainer with a fast metabolism. He admits that his personal knowledge in health and fitness is not too extensive, but he takes advice from friends who are more qualified.
He is getting ready to post up a bulletin board titled, “What have you done for yourself today?” He has done this to keep himself accountable for doing something for himself daily. It is important to him to keep track of what he got done without excuses.
Rusty’s grew up in a family of motocross racers. His formative years involved a lot of racing. His father was the president of a motocross track. Due to this, fitness was always there whether he thought about it or not.
When Rusty started playing guitar, he decided to be the best guitar player he can possibly be and decided to spend the majority of his time on that, in exclusion of working out and racing. Rusty has never been someone who believed in a backup plan. To him, that was just preparing himself to fail. Anytime anything got in the way of him playing, he got rid of it.
Back in 2009, he decided fitness was going to become a part of his just like music was. He realized the importance of staying fit as he aged. He mentioned that it was important for him to set a good example for his kids.
Rusty suffered from a shoulder injury that put him out of the gym for a year. He thinks it was caused by not warming up properly, and training more with machines when he trained at his apartment complex’s gym.
Rusty said he never thought there was anything he couldn’t do. It was always “I can’t wait until”. He went on, “If you set your mind to it, and believe in it, and understand the work ethic behind it—or wether you even understand the work ethic, if you’re that into it, it is bound to happen.”
For supplementation, Rusty takes BSN or Labrada Nutrition protein, BCAA’s, preworkout, and creatine.
When traveling, Rusty tries to eat as clean as he can but does not stress about it too much and treats it more like a cheat day in the worst case. He doesn’t consider one day off as falling off the wagon. He takes his supplements with him when he travels.
Rusty Cooley has a reverse sleeping schedule from most people; he is a night owl. Sleep is important to him and he has booked his own room when touring because it is tough for him to sleep at normal hours.
Rusty tries not to tour for too long to maintain sanity. He does not teach on tour but he has contemplated teaching in cities he travels to where people have prepaid for group lessons that he would give after sound check.
Day of Reckoning has done band clinics on tour for VIP ticket holders. At these clinics, fans get to ask questions and gain insight on how the band gets along with one another on tour. Rusty points out the importance of being able to communicate effectively without hurting other’s feelings. He said we shouldn’t bring our baggage into the our relationships, especially not with the band.
Besides his dad not being wholly behind him playing guitar, his upbringing was supportive and pretty healthy. His father, a military man, was always doing some project or other and never really sat around. Rusty, without thinking much of it, applied himself in the same way to practicing the guitar. He mentioned that whatever he does, he does it 110%.
These days, Rusty’s guitar practice may involve recording a guest solo, learning new things, or simply maintaining his technique or songs that he is performing.
When recording his instructional material for Chops From Hell, his kid was yelling in the next room. When they offered to remove that from the footage, he had them keep it in because that was the reality of his life at the moment. People have asked him how he maintains his family life and practices like he does, in response he said he doesn’t know how he does it, he just does it because he has to.
Rusty went into some fine details of how his latest signature model with Ormsby guitars was made. He shows how it was built to be very playable and prevent injuries.
On mindfulness, Rusty shared that although he does not formally meditate, he gets into deep states while practicing guitar.
On practicing focused, Rusty said its better you approach the guitar for a minute at a time throughout the day than picking it up for thirty minutes and only being focused for five of them. By taking this approach, he says you will develop the ability to focus for longer and longer periods of time. He went on that if you are working on something in particular and it is going great, let it run it’s course—don’t stop it, regardless of what you have planned. You never know what you will come up with; only move on to the next practice item when you have let the current item run it’s course.
Rusty considers himself more of a conduit for the music. He believes we are simply vessels and he does not claim to create.
Currently Rusty is getting more proficient at recording so that he doesn’t have to rely on others in that regard. He wants to be able to work at his own pace. He is also working on getting an instrumental band together to play his music. He wants to continue to evolve as a musician, guitar player and human being as much as he can.
Rusty Cooley discovered that his philosophies lined up with martial arts masters such as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. When first interacting with Lee Labrada, Rusty realized Lee also had the same mindset when training for Mr. Universe as he had when practicing the guitar. Rusty believes all mastery is achieved from a burning desire and a matched work ethic. “You unequivocally want it more than anything else… and you are willing to do whatever it takes to be there.”
Back in his teens when starting out, he became somewhat of a hermit in his bedroom practicing guitar. He went from being a popular kid to having only a couple of friends who played guitar.
Going on about friends and acquaintances, Rusty says it’s the people who are overly gung-ho that you need to watch out for, because they are the quickest to leave at any sign of trouble.
Rusty always knew what he wanted to do and can’t imagine not knowing that. He says there is a lot of truth in the old saying that if you find what you love to do and do it, you’ll never work a day in your life. He continued that anything you like will require work, but it doesn’t feel like it usually.
On dealing with negative emotions, Rusty does not want a bad mood to project off on other people, so he prefers not to share that with the world. Playing guitar has often helped him out of a rut but he has once battled depression so bad that he could not even find peace in music. He did seek therapy when that occurred. He said that being able to talk about it helps more than anything.
Rusty admits that the older he gets, the more he realizes that he does not know much. He questions any conclusion he arrives at now, not so convinced that whatever he had rationalized is necessarily the truth.
On trolls, he says the best way to deal with it, is you just don’t deal with it. He does not get involved. Sometimes he would respond without being triggered. He thinks a lot of trolls are the people who are overly nice and complementing in person.
Rusty’s advice to musicians is to stick to their guns and do it because they love it, and they will be happy.