Photo by Neil Zlozower
Joel Hoekstra of WHITESNAKE has just released his new solo album “dying to live” which is a collection of melodic hard rock tunes featuring guest musicians Russell Allen of SYMPHONY X, ex YNGWIE MALMSTEEN’S RISING FORCE and current SOTO singer Jeff Scott Soto, former BLACK SABBATH, DIO drummer Vinny Appice and ex BLUE MURDER bass player Tony Franklin.
The album displays not only some great guitar performances by Joel, but also proves Joel’s talent as a songwriter with a variety of hard rock tunes ranging from soft and melodic to hard and heavy. Check out Joel talking to MUSE ON MUSE about his new album!
Photo by Neil Zlozower
Interview / Text Mamoru Moriyama
Translation Louis Sesto (EAGLETAIL MUSIC)
Muse On Muse : Your new album “dying to live” definitely proves to be a great rock album. What was the concept behind this album?
Joel Hoekstra : I released 3 solo albums years ago that were primarily instrumental guitar albums. Over the last 7-8 years many fans have gotten to know me from playing with Night Ranger, Rock of Ages, Trans Siberian Orchestra and now Whitesnake. I’ve had a lot of requests for a solo album of sorts in the melodic hard rock genre. I finally found the time over the last year or 2 to get it done.
MM : The cover artwork featuring the pyramid, eye and number 13 leaves a great impression. What is the meaning behind this album cover?
JH : 13 has really just been a lucky number of sorts. I was born on the 13th and many important life events seem to fall on that day for me. The eye represents your minds eye and the bird is meant to represent you. Lyrically the album is about the struggle to overcome the obstacles in life to finally arrive where we’re meant to be.
MM : The album features singers Jeff Scott Soto and Russell Allen, along with rhythm section Vinny Appice and Tony Franklin, and guest player Derek Sherinian. Tell us how and why they ended up playing on the album.
JH : I asked Tony Franklin first, as we had just finished working on the VHF project together. He recommended Vinny on drums. I realized immediately that I had one of the coolest rhythm sections EVER. Just as I needed a singer, Russell Allen signed up for the Trans Siberian Orchestra tour that I do and I knew he HAD to sing on it. I called in a favor from my friend Jeff Scott Soto to sing backgrounds on those tracks and as soon as it became clear this was a project album I asked him to sing some lead as well. There were some songs that were perfect for his voice. As far as I’m concerned it just brought more fun to the party and I can honestly say I have TWO of the best singers in rock today singing on the record! After I layed down my guitars, I realized that there was still room for keyboards, so I asked Derek Sherinian and he did a phenomenal job of playing exactly what was needed to put on the finishing touches.
MM : How was it recording with them? Do you have any memorable episodes from the recording sessions you can share with us?
JH : Everyone worked on their own, which I think is a great way to do a record. Players are less self-conscious and more willing to do multiple takes and experiment when they’re on their own. On my end this entire record has been a huge learning experience.
MM : According to the credits, you wrote all the music and lyrics except for “Changes”. I’m sure there’s a difference in the two aspects, as music is more about stirring the listeners’ imagination, whereas lyrics are more direct with the use of actual words. Is there anything in particular that you keep in mind when you write music, as well as when you write lyrics?
JH : I tried to start with a good chorus on all of these songs and build out from there. I usually write the melody for the verses, pre-choruses, bridges, etc and write the lyrics to those later. I tried to avoid being too self-indulgent as far as guitar solos. Everything was about the songs and what I would want to hear as a fan with this album.
Photo by Neil Zlozower
MM : There are a few songs on the album that we can imagine David Coverdale could sing. I’m sure you will be putting a lot of input into the next Whitesnake album, but have you already discussed anything with David regarding songwriting duties?
JH : I’ll let David fill everyone in. I can say he’s very enthused about this line-up of Whitesanke and everyone can look for a very active next year or 2 from the band! Good news for all of us!
MM : The album is filled with highlights such as versatile arrangements and rhythm guitar parts, well structured and emotional guitar solos, etc. that definitely enhance the songs. Please tell us about your approach to playing guitar in a particular song.
JH : As I said earlier, this was very much about playing guitar for the songs. I definitely had my producer/songwriter hat on for this album probably more-so than my guitar player hat.
MM : Please tell us about your gear. What guitars, guitar amps, effectors, foot pedals did you use for this recording?
JH : I used a Les Paul and a Friedman BE-100 amp for all the electric tracks. I tried to avoid switching to give the album a “sound”. I didn’t use any pedals at all. Of course there are delay plug-ins on in Pro-Tools though. I used Taylors for all of the acoustic tracks.
MM : I’m sure there are many fans that would like to experience your songs from the new album live. Do you have any plans to tour for this album?
JH : I’m certainly going to do whatever I can to support the album. I’m very excited to be hearing from promoters already. It’s going to be all about finding a situation that would make sense. I wouldn’t want to take something out live unless it was top notch though.
MM : Please give a message to your fans.
JH : I really appreciate the support! If you like melodic hard rock that is Dio’ish at it’s heaviest and Foreigner’ish at it’s lightest, please give Dying to Live a shot! You won’t be disappointed.
Joel Hoekstra official site : http://www.joelhoekstra.com/
Joel Hoekstra facebook : https://www.facebook.com/JoelHoekstra13
Dying To Live / Joel Hoekstra’s 13
1. Say Goodbye to the Sun
3. Until I Left You
4. Long For The Days
6. Never Say Never
8. The Only Way to Go
9. Dying To Live
10. Start Again
11. What We Believe
12. Never Want（Bonus Track Japan）