An interview with…Rusty Anderson

Guitarist Rusty Anderson has been lucky enough in his career to have worked with and recorded for some of the biggest names in the music business, however he has had to put in many years of hard work to get to where he is today.

Rusty was born and raised in La Habra, California. From a young age he was always into music, and at the tender age of 8 his father gave him his very first guitar. By the time he was 13 he had formed Eulogy, a rock group that obtained a substantial local following, and played with bands such as The Police and Van Halen. Sadly, despite their success, Eulogy disbanded.

Not long after, Rusty teamed up with friends John Kallas and Gregory Markel to form the psychedelic, progressive rock band, The Living Daylights. After putting out only one record they disbanded when Rusty signed a solo development deal with Columbia Records.

Once he was signed, Rusty was introduced to record producer David Kahne, who invited him to play on The Bangles second album, Different Light. This was the first of many freelance recording sessions Rusty was involved in for artists including Fishbone, Neil Diamond and Little Richard.

In 1993 Rusty was invited to form the band Ednaswap, who released four records. They also penned the number 1 worldwide hit Torn, made famous in 1997 by Natalie Imbruglia.

After recording and touring with Ednaswap for over five years they disbanded, and Rusty went back into freelance recording for several big artists including Elton John, Santana and Ronan Keating. It was also around this time that he recorded the surfing guitar solos on Ricky Martins number 1 Livin’ La Vida Loca.

In 2001 Rusty jumped at the chance to play on Paul McCartney’s latest album, Driving Rain. Soon after the recording of the hit album, Paul requested Rusty come on tour with him, and alongside guitarist Brian Ray, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr and keyboardist Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens, that’s what he’s been doing ever since. As the lead guitarist for one of the most famous musicians in modern history, Rusty has performed in some of the most unique venues in the world, including the White House, the Roman Colosseum, and Red Square in Moscow.

In what little spare time he has, Rusty has recorded, produced and released two strong albums: In 2003 he released Undressing Underwater and followed it up in 2009 with Born on Earth.

Rusty was happy to answer some of my questions:

How did you get into music in the first place?

When I was 5 years old I flipped out on The Beatles. That was about when my older brother died from a kidney issue. Looking back I think I subconsciously put all my focus on music maybe because of the distance in the family at that time, who knows. After much begging and pleading and many plastic untuneable guitars, my dad bought me a cheap pawn shop guitar and amp when I was 8. Plugging in that thing for the first time was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had!

How did you meet Paul McCartney?

I was playing guitar with various artists in the studio – Elton John, Sinead O’Connor, Animal Logic, New Radicals, Fishbone, etc. a producer I had worked with a lot, David Kahne, brought me in to work on Paul’s record. That was 2001 and it’s been a thing ever since.

What has been your favourite song to play with Paul on tour?

There’s so many – Maybe I’m Amazed, Too Many People, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Please Please Me…it’s a long list!

Are there any Beatles/Wings/Paul songs that you haven’t played yet that you want to?

Oh yeah. Backseat of my Car (we’ve actually played it at rehearsal and same with Junior’s Farm), the Night Before, Lovely Rita, Hi Hi Hi, etc.

I love both your albums, but what’s your writing style? What comes first, music or lyrics?

Thank you. It varies. Some start with melody ideas. Some start with lyrics. I have millions of lyrical lines in books and computer and also musical ideas on my iphone. Many times I’ll glue them together.

What is your favourite song from your first two albums and why?

That’s a hard one. From Undressing Underwater I’d say Coming Down to Earth maybe. Mostly because of the melody. Or Electric Trains which is about my brother. On Born on Earth it would be Where Would We Go or Born on Earth I suppose.

How about coming over to the UK and playing a few gigs for all your fans over here?

I’d love to do that again. It’s really hard for me to book shows especially out of town because Paul usually doesn’t plan way ahead. It’s just the way he rolls. But I will when I can.

Are there any plans for a third album?

I’ve been writing with my mate Todd. I’m possibly thinking about doing a band. I’ll keep you posted!

What does the rest of 2011 have in store for you?

2010 was very dense from March to almost Christmas. Although I’ve already traveled a bit to record this year, this time at home was much needed. I’ll continue writing and recording songs for release, doing more gigs with Paul and with my own band, catching up on life at home, there’s never enough time, right?

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the music business?

When asked by a bright eyed kid about how to break into the music business, Randy Newman said: “Who would want to break into it? It’s like a bank that’s already been robbed!” that’s a cynical viewpoint but unfortunately rather accurate. I think you gotta make music because you love it and you have to. Expect to make no money then you won’t be disappointed. And if you are one of the very, very, very few that does have financial success then that’s amazing.

Great talking to you, Rusty

You’re welcome, thanks!

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4 thoughts on “An interview with…Rusty Anderson

  1. Lou says:

    Interesting interview. I like Rusty; seems like a down-to-earth guy. And I’m glad Paul and the band are taking a bit of a break: 2010 was a busy busy year for them all.

    FYI, you spelled two names incorrectly: It’s Sinead O’Connor and Randy Newman (not Sinned O’Connor and Randy Newsman).

    Google is your friend in checking spelling! 😉

  2. audi says:

    He’s right about the biz — do it because you love it. -audi

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