Over the course of his illustrious and eclectic career Rusty Anderson has had the privilege to work with musical royalty, and in an exclusive interview with the Beatles Examiner he opened up about his unique experiences and discusses his brand new band Rusty Anderson Afternoon.
The interview, conducted by Ken Michaels and Steve Marinucci, found Rusty discussing his musical tastes and influences, as well as providing a tantilizing glimpse into the world of a professional session musician.
Talking about working with Elton John on his 2001 album Songs From The West Coast, Rusty said: “It was really interesting. I walked in there and it was sort of a family vibe which was nice. It was really interesting working with Elton and Bernie Taupin because Bernie would have, like, eighty sets of lyrics and he’d hand some lyrics to Elton and he would start writing the song. In 15 minutes he would have a song and I’d sit there next to him and write down the chords while he’s playing piano and then just start tracking the song. It was a very organic process. It was really cool.”
Overlapping with his recording sessions with Elton John, Rusty also began working on Paul McCartney’s 2001 album Driving Rain. He has since being primarily associated with the former Wings front-man, having extensively toured with him and recorded on the majority of his studio albums since their first meeting.
Having played over 200 shows with Paul McCartney since his 2002 Driving USA tour, Rusty mused upon some of the gigs that stood out from the crowd as special: “In a weird way they’re all super memorable even though I can’t remember them all because we’ve done a lot, especially in America when all these arenas sort of look the same from the inside and the backstage and all that. Whereas Europe’s a little more diverse in that department. But yeah, I mean, we’ve played from Red Square and St Petersburg, we’ve played in Japan and we got to go hang out in Kyoto inbetween Osaka and Tokyo, we played the Rome Coliseum, outside that. And inside actually!”
Playing alongside one of the biggest acts in music has its own unique challenges, for example having to overcome nerves and perform consistently and brilliantly night after night to massive audiences. Rusty recalled some of the largest: “As far as people there, physically, the Queens [diamond] jubilee, I think there was said to be over a million people in the street, but I couldn’t see them all. There was a certain cut of point and a lot of it was maybe piped out into the street with PA. Rome was about 500,000. And the Olympics was very unforgettable, that was just a crazy wild spectacle, and that viewership was definitely the biggest. I mean millions and millions of people watched the Olympic opening ceremony.”
Another challenge is having people become emotional during the concerts: hearing music they have grown up with being performed live in front of their eyes can be quite an experience and the band have to deal with the reactions. “It happens all the time, the crying thing. We were at a show and this girl in front of me, probably at about three quarters of the songs we’d launch into, would burst into tears! And I couldn’t look at her cos I understood! Some people you see crying or whatever and you go ‘okay, that’s your reaction’, but with some people you have to be careful because they can suck you in and all of a sudden it’s like you’re experiencing it with them. It can be dangerous when you’re trying to do a job!”
As well as touring with Macca, Rusty has also found time to have a career of his own. He has already released two solo albums, Undressing Underwater and Born On Earth, and the compilation album Until We Meet Again (album review here). Recently the guitarist has formed a new band, Rusty Anderson Afternoon, quickly followed by the release of the hypnotising single Effortless (single review here). Feeling the understandable need to give the other musicians in his band some credit, Rusty decided against releasing the single as a pure straightforwards solo song: “It’s a band effort. Todd, who plays bass, we’re sharing vocals and sharing songwriting, and so it’s not just Rusty Anderson solo, it’s a band thing. But having the background and stuff I figured it was probably a good idea keeping my name involved [in the band name].”
And fans of Effortless (and the rest of Rusty’s solo back catalogue for that matter) won’t have too much longer to wait as a brand new Rusty Anderson Afternoon album is currently in the pipeline, although a release date hasn’t yet been set. Speaking about the album, Rusty said: “I’m not sure when the album will be out…probably in the next month or two.”