Joel Hoekstra – hard rock was the style that got me into playing in the first place, so it’s great fun for me

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Joel Hoekstra has released his amazing sophomore effort with his band Joel Hoekstra’s 13 gaining rave reviews from the fans and press alike. We grab the chance to get in touch wth him for more details regarding the new album. Naturally, we asked him a few things about his other activities with the mighty Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cher etc.  Interview: Sakis Nikas

Rockpages.gr: Joel , you must be one of the busiest musicians as you are always part of a recording project or a tour. I guess this was the main reason for the 6-year gap between the debut Joel Hoekstra’s 13 album and “Running Games”, right?

Joel Hoekstra: Well, 5 years.  Oct 2015 – Feb 2021.  It was a combination of committing to doing another one and everyone having a full schedule including myself. 

Rockpages.gr: This time around Russell Allen handles all the vocals and Jeff Scott Soto is doing only backing. Was it something that you wanted right from the start or was it just a matter of conflicting schedules?

Joel Hoekstra:  I think it made more sense to have one lead singer this time around.  Russell was able to complete it and Jeff has so much going on as lead singer right now.  

Rockpages.gr: “Running Games” picks up from where “Dying To Live” stopped, really…a combination of hard rock with a touch of melodic metal (mainly due to Russell’s voice). Would you say that this is your defining style as a guitarist but also as an artist in general?

Joel Hoekstra:  I’d say I’m writing for the project.  It’s definitely the style that got me into playing in the first place, so it’s great fun for me.

Rockpages.gr: Do you have any standout moments on the album? Personally, I love the more “commercial” hard rock approach on songs like “How Do You”, “Hard To Say Goodbye”…

Joel Hoekstra:  Not really.  I’d like to think all of the songs are strong.  Hopefully people will find it to be all killer, no filler! Haha!

Rockpages.gr: Joel, I had the chance to meet you and do an interview with you in Dublin before the Whitesnake concert back in 2015. Back then you told me how excited you were for being a member of this legendary band. How does it feel to be working with the incomparable David Coverdale?

Joel Hoekstra:  It’s great!  What’s to like about being a part of a legendary band, making albums and touring the world?  Haha!  I’m blessed to be there, for sure.

Rockpages.gr: I loved “Flesh & Blood” and I truly believe that this is the best album since the recording resurrection of 2008. I am sure that all the band members are happy with the overall feedback. Did you expect such a positive reaction by the fans and critics alike?

Joel Hoekstra:  Thank you!  Well, I don’t know.  Obviously we all try to do the best we can and hopefully the fans like it in the end.  I’m very grateful DC included me as a co-writer/co-producer.  I was very honored to be included.

Rockpages.gr: Although, David is the one who knows the answer to this question, is there any talk of yet another Whitesnake album? Have you done any writing session?

Joel Hoekstra:  DC has been promoting the Red, White and Blues trilogy over the past year or so.  We’ll have to wait and see what his plans are after that.  Fingers crossed…

Rockpages.gr: I am a huge Night Ranger fan and I thought that you were a great asset to this mighty band. When your mind goes back to those days with Night Ranger what do you remember above all? What are your fondest recollection of that period in your career?

Joel Hoekstra:  Mainly fun, especially the early days.  It was a very exciting time.  I enjoyed hanging out with Brad Gillis.  We made the 80’d happen again in the 2,000’s!  Haha!

Rockpages.gr: I am pretty certain that another highlight is the participation on Cher’s “Here We Go Again” tour. Personally, I love her 80s hard rock albums. How is she as a person and as a musical partner?

Joel Hoekstra:  Great!  Very professional.  Another experience I’ve been blessed to have.  Most guitarists would be lucky to have one of these opportunities, so to have them all is surreal.

Rockpages.gr: Last but certainly not least, I couldn’t leave out Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It’s really a wonder how a project like has achieved such a huge commercial success despite the fact that Savatage –where the basis of Trans-Siberian Orchestra can be found- is virtually unknown in the States. What’s your opinion?

Joel Hoekstra: It all speaks to the genius of Paul O’Neill.  He had a vision and swung for the fences.  I think most people thought he was crazy, but he had the last laugh.  It’s definitely something special in my life that I’m proud to be a part of.  Great talent in the band, an amazing production/management team and one of the most dedicated fan bases you’ll ever see.  I’m lucky to be a small part of it, honestly.