Lunatic's Serenade

An interview with Joel Hoekstra

I first heard of Joel Hoekstra when he was on the East Coast tour with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra a few years back. I saw the vids on YouTube and from there I watched vids from his solo records. You need to get a hold of all his stuff - Innovative and fun rockin' stuff!

Then I found out that not only is he a great soloist, but he also slings for Night Ranger (they have 3 records with him), he's on the Broadway hit Rock of Ages and now he's on tour with the mighty Whitesnake! Oh, there's more, but you'll have to hit up his website.

For now, let's hear what Joel has to say:

HMS: First of all, I want to say a big Thank You for agreeing to this short interview. I know you're way busy with a lot that you have going on. Can you tell us what's cookin' with you right now?

JH: Right now I'm doing my 8 shows a week at Rock of Ages, preparing for the upcoming Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour (rehearsals start 10/27), working on recording side project and have a week of videos/photos coming up with Whitesnake.

HMS: For some of the readers, who are unfortunate to not have heard you, can you tell us a bit about you and what gravitated you towards the guitar? Who first sparked the interest?

JH: I started because of Angus Young and AC/DC. His energy blew me away and still does!

HMS: You have done a lot of work with Night Ranger. I remember listening to Dawn Patrol and Midnight Madness over and over again as a kid. Are those cats as cool as they look on the record covers?

JH: I had 7 great years with them. Absolutely. A great bunch of guys!

HMS: You've been on the winter tour with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for a few years now. How did all that come about?

JH: Yes. This upcoming tour will be my 5th. Alex Skolnick had been doing it for quite some time, but wanted to take time off to tour with his trio. I had some friends in the band that recommended me, I auditioned and things went really well. It's a privilege to be a part of TSO.

HMS: Tell us about the Whitesnake gig. What was going on when they called?

JH: Well, I had been a part of Night Ranger for 7 years, at Rock of Ages for 6 years and Trans-Siberian Orchestra for 4-5 years. The thought of joining Whitesnake and doing something new was incredibly intriguing. It's also a band that will allow me to showcase my versatility quite a bit. Once again, I auditioned and things went well. Thankfully, scheduling allows me to continue on with Rock of Ages and TSO.

HMS: Here's one you probably haven't heard: What is your number 1 axe and the rig you run it through?

JH: My '57 re-issue Goldtop Les Paul is my main guitar. I use EVHIII and Friedman amps and use the Fractal AXE-FX for effects or if I'm going direct.

HMS: What inspires you when you sit down and write? Say like "Mad Bar" off Undefined...

JH: I had written that song for an acid jazz band I was playing with back in 2000. When it came time to make 'undefined', I decided to have Virgil Donati and Ric Fierabracci lay it down.

"You get back what you put into it. It's all about hard work."

HMS: You have quite a bit of tutorials on You Tube. Not a lot of big names do that. What made you want to put those out there?

JH: Really just working with Guitar World and Guitar Player magazines on articles. It's always an honor for me to be in the guitar magazines. I grew up reading those.

HMS: Right now (10-8-14) I have Izzy Stradlin and the JuJu Hounds jammed in my CD player. (I'm waiting for the ransom to let ‘em out..) Who's in yours?

JH: Trans-Siberian Orchestra because I'm learning the maternal for the tour. Most of the time these days, my listening is just whatever I'm working on.

HMS: You have a long list of people you have worked with. Who would be in your "Dream Team"?

JH: There are lots of people I'd like to work with. Too many to name. I'd love to record someday with Journey's Arnel Pineda. He's one of the best rock singers in the world right now.

HMS: Any words of wisdom for anyone who is struggling or has a desire to play?

JH: You get back what you put into it. It's all about hard work. Try to avoid behavior that isn't productive.

HMS: Once again, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. I think you would've had more fun snapping your leg with a rubber band.

JH: Haha! No, it's all good. I totally appreciate the support!

HMS: Be safe out there, and if you're ever in Las Vegas, hit me up and we'll get a Guinness somewhere!

JH: Sounds good!

Tim Duran, HMS

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