Joel Rusch performs and composes music with local Milwaukee rock band, Guilt Trip

Joel Rusch Photo

Joel Rusch, '07 music, headed to college with the plan of becoming a biology major and a music minor.  He earned two scholarships for music: one for band and the other piano accompanying.  He enrolled in a music theory class and was assigned to compose in a number of different styles. "As I began working with the different styles of music, it became clearer to me that I really had a passion for music composition," says Rusch.

During his freshman year, Rusch became involved with Guilt Trip, a young rock band who had been looking for a rhythm guitar and keyboard player. Because of Rusch's passion for piano, friend and classmate Jeremy Zima recruited Rusch. Zima then worked with him to pick up rhythm guitar. Rusch was excited to get involved with the band because it gave him an opportunity to try something new, as well as to collaborate with other musicians to compose music.

"Being a part of the college's band and choir has had a tremendous influence on me compositionally. It is difficult to compose music when you are not performing music, as well. Being a performer makes it easier to compose," says Rusch. 

Dr. Braun has encouraged him to consider theory and composition as a major, while Dr. Juanita Becker has encouraged him to take up jazz piano, where he has had the opportunity to study with Mark Davis from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Both of these opportunities have allowed Joel to utilize his knowledge in theory and chord progressions and apply them to songs he writes collectively with Guilt Trip. 

Since joining the band, they released a CD in 2004 called The Eleventh Hour, and they are currently working on releasing another.  Rock 102.1 in Milwaukee often plays their songs during local hour, Sundays from 9-10 p.m.

Visit the Guilt Trip website at