The other day I did a Power Chord Radio phone interview with Joel Hoekstra. He’s currently the guitarist for David Coverdale and Whitesnake. His past gigs have included Night Ranger, a fill in stint with Foreigner, and on Broadway with the rock themed musical Rock of Ages. With a recent solo record, Joel Hoekstra’s 13 Dying to Live, and preparing to head to Japan with Whitesnake, it was a good time to discuss all that he has going on.
Originally, we were supposed to speak a week earlier. He had to postpone. In the hundreds of interviews that I’ve done, this is not an uncommon occurrence. It happens around 20% of the time. Sometimes there is a valid excuse, sometimes there is no explanation. Joel had the greatest reason for having to postpone. He and his wife were having a baby.
Exactly a week later, with everyone happy and healthy, we got on the phone. He started the interview by apologizing to me! “Yes, you should be sorry, the nerve, having a child when we were scheduled to do an interview,” I said sarcastically.
Though he’s not the original guitar player for Night Ranger nor Whitesnake, when onstage with either band he looks and sounds like he’s been there since the beginning. I would think, behind the scenes, he’s a great band mate because he’s such a nice guy. So it’s no surprise when looking for players for his solo record everyone he asked said yes.
It’s not like he asked a bunch of nobodies to play on his record, either. Tony Franklin, who played with none other than Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers in The Firm. Ironically he was also in Blue Murder with former Whitesnake guitarist, John Sykes. Vinnie Appice is banging on the drums. He spent the majority of his career with the late great Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath. Derek Sherinian is on the keyboards. He’s only recorded with Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiss, and Joe Bonamassa.
Guitar players who don’t sing lead vocals, usually follow the Carlos Santana plan – write a bunch of tunes and have a different lead vocalist to sing each song. Joel went a different route and tapped two singers to handle the duties. There is also a secret weapon which we’ll discuss later. One of the two is Jeff Scott Soto. He’s one of the most respected singers in the business. He’s been the front man for everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Journey. The other singer is Russell Allen, who is a seemingly workaholic, as he fronts both Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob.
The first thing about Dying to Live that jumps out at you, is the lack of guitar noodling. Joel almost takes a backseat to let the songs be all they can be. He used the sports analogy during our interview, “Letting the game come to me.”
Don’t get me wrong, there is some impressive guitar work but it doesn’t overshadow the songs. With the strong vocal performances, Joel Hoekstra’s 13 feels more like a seasoned band than a solo project. Songs like “Until I Left You” and “Long for the Days” are instant sing along songs. While “Scream” and “Say Goodbye to the Sun” are put- your- fist- in- the- air songs to rock with.
Continuing the sports theme, he hit a walk off home run with the last song on the record. It’s called “What We Believe”. Jeff Scott Soto is joined on vocals, with a superstar in training, Chloe Lowery. Her angelic voice works perfectly with Soto’s power rock style.
A cool day job with Whitesnake, a great new solo record, and a new daddy. Iit’s good to be Joel Hoekstra these days. It seems nice guys can finish first.
Check out all things Joel Hoekstra’s 13 with the links below:
Until I Left You (video)
Anymore (lyric video)
On Oct 5, 2015, at 11:09 AM, Lillian Yiu wrote:
Long For the Days (audio, with bonus video footage)
Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Dying to Live (album sampler)
Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Dying to Live EPK