Posted: 08 Aug 2012 07:30 AM PDT
|Rusty Cooley and John Petrucci|
We are re-posting this article due to so many people who commented about it last night at Rusty Cooley’s guitar clinic at Guitar Center in Houston. Thank you for a standing room only crowd and for your support of Rusty Cooley and Guitar Asylum TV!
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Ward “Dr. B.” Bond and I’m the creator and executive producer of Rusty Cooley’s Guitar Asylum TV. A few nights ago, Rusty Cooley and the GATV crew interview the legendary guitarist John Petrucci of Dream Theater.
One of the coolest parts of my job besides filming some of the greatest guitarists of our time is just sitting down watching and listening to Rusty and the other guitarists talk shop. Our goal with the television program is to bring that backstage presence that many fans never get to see or experience. The other night with Dream Theater was amazing and not just because we’re hanging backstage with Petrucci and the rest of the band. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
The afternoon started with us arriving at the venue, Verizon Wireless Theater in Houston, TX. We’re escorted backstage and given VIP credentials. John Petrucci appears and greets us then we head to the stage for John to give us (and you) a firsthand look at his stage set up. John Petrucci explains how his pedal setup works during the performance and how he no longer uses monitors on stage, but uses the monitors-in-the-ear-thingies. One learns very quickly that JP has not only fine tuned his set up onstage; he is still looking to improve in everything he does. This is where it gets interesting.
The Dream Theater performance is what one would expect, first class all the way. My view of metal in its different forms basically started by listening to Van Halen and Ozzy. I’m used to being at venues with bands in which the fans mix it up in mosh pits and being drunk and disorderly. Dream Theater is whole different vibe. The crowd was so focused on the music, no one was pushing each other around and acting like fools. They are so mesmerized by the music and the stage presence that DT provides it’s refreshing to see fans listen and enhjoy. The fans were great and I will say this, the only two bands I know of that have a following no one can rival is Dream Theater and Black Label Society. You don’t mess with their fans and you don’t mess with their bands. You can really see and feel the love and admiration the band and the fans have for each other. It’s that element that makes Dream Theater one of the longest surviving bands in the modern era.
After the concert was over, we went backstage and chilled out in a private dressing room. This is where it gets interesting. The only ones in the dressing room are Petrucci, Rusty Cooley and my crew (only 5 in the room). There are no parties, no drinking, nothing but silent solitude. Rusty brought one of his Dean RC7s for the interview and Petrucci didn’t have his guitar with him after the performance was over as the crew was putting everything back on the buses and trucks to head to the next city. Sitting backstage, JP takes Rusty’s guitar and starts checking it out and playing on it without an amp. He hands it back to Rusty and the Shredmeister doesn’t even warm up, he’s already at warp speed. To hear Rusty play without an amp, you hear what sounds like shred on a Spanish classical guitar. It’s bright, airy and simply amazing. After Rusty does a little shredding, then it’s back in Petrucci’s hands. Now the anatomy part, for the next 45 minutes, Petrucci and Cooley go back and forth over the actual anatomy of picking. Petrucci is so focused on learning more about Cooley’s pick position, forearm and shoulder position, that JP even apologized to me for being boring. I laughed and told him, I wasn’t bored but more intrigued that after playing for so many years and just finishing a two hour set on stage. He was still focused on learning more about playing and applying anything he could learn from Rusty Cooley to reach the next level. My questions is, what level can Petrucci actually reach? May seem like a stupid question to some, but as an admirer of great talent, Petrucci is one of the top ten guitar players in the world. JP was watching Rusty forearm muscle pumping back and forth, he’s eyeing his finger position, etc. Then it’s JP’s turn again and Rusty is analyzing Petrucci’s position. Both are shredders, but both approach it from different angles. What makes John Petrucci and Rusty Cooley amazing guitarists is they do not rest on their laurels. They work to strive to get everything out of the talent they were given. You can see the very same passion and intensity in players such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. As fans and admirers, we view them as guitar gods, but they aren’t looking down at us, they are working harder and harder to reach the next level or in our case creating a new level for the rest of us to reach.
It’s now 1am backstage and the tour manager says it’s time to go. We all head with gear in hand and walk to the buses with more diehard fans waiting to see the band. Then the eruption of the fans was magical when they see Rusty Cooley and John Petrucci appear together. The fans got more than they expected and that’s what makes for a memorable night. I for one got more than I expected, watching and listening to two of most incredible guitar players trade techniques to improve. Some could call them icons, but I call them pioneers who continue to push the envelope and create a new frontier for other guitar players to follow.
Written by Ward “Dr. B.” Bond
Creator and Executive Producer of Rusty Cooley’s Guitar Asylum TV