Guitarist Joel Hoekstra, talked with Mayhem Music Magazine during his time in Night Ranger. We talked with the now Whitesnake guitarist about juggling Night Ranger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, & Rock of Ages on Broadway and why he likes to stay so busy


Mayhem Music Magazine:  I recently saw you with Night Ranger performing at Sierra View Music Fest. How’d you end up getting that gig replacing former guitarist Jeff Watson?

Joel Hoekstra:  I had met Kelly Keagy (drummer & co-vocalist of Night Ranger) through playing in Jim Peterik’s house band. Jim Peterik is the guy who co-founded the Ides of March and Survivor and he holds these events called World Stage in the Chicago area and I was in the house band for that so I met Kelly.  Kelly was usually one of the guest artists. He would come in, and I’d see him once a year, and that went on for about seven or eight years. One year he came in and said Jeff was no longer in the band and I asked him if I could ever get a shot at it.  So it turns out about a week later Kelly called me and said, “The guys want to give you a shot at it. You’re going to do this gig with us, basically no rehearsal, no sound check, and we’ll see how it goes,” so it was definitely flying by the seat of my pants, but it was an amazing gig. It went really well and the rest is history as they say.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You’ve played with a long list of great artist.  From Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant to Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider.  Were many of these artist from playing the World Stage shows?


Joel Hoekstra:  Yeah, they would do the World Stage shows, or when I played in Scrap Metal.  Dee, I obviously worked with in Rock of Ages. He was in the cast for a bit, and also I just did a gig supporting his “Dee Does Broadway” album with him which was great fun. Dee is a really cool dude and any chance I get to work with him is always an honor. He’s really a blast to rock out with man.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You are also in the Broadway version of the rock musical “Rock of Ages” and have a cameo in the movie as well. How did you end up with the gig as far as for the movie?

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Joel Hoekstra:  That really kind of came about in an odd way. I wanted to be the guitar player basically in Arsenal. It was what I went down to audition for which originally had speaking lines and whatnot in the movie and basically I got offered the gig, and then I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do the shoot dates because Night Ranger was going to be in Japan and Europe at that time so I was really bummed. I went “Oh, man. Here, I went down, I got this role in the movie, and they said, ‘Well, it a shame that that didn’t work out but we can give you this cameo basically in this scene, this rocker cameo,'” and they kind of at the time thought that that was the lesser of the two. And basically by the time it came out, the rocker cameo ended up being the much better of the two in terms of just face time and all that stuff. In the scene for those that haven’t seen the movie I’m in the protest scene at the end around Russell Brand singing. It’s me, Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon), and Debbie Gibson. They put us all around Russell Brand.

We also got to put on a little impromptu concert for all the actors and catering which was a blast. We basically just plugged in acoustics and went on no rehearsal, no sound check, no nothing and just played everybody’s songs for the actors and jammed on a couple other things and that was a blast. Sebastian Bach was singing “Whole Lotta Love” down at Catherine Zeta Jones’ face. It was hilarious, man, a great time.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  If playing with Night Ranger and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” is enough, you also tour with Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

Joel Hoekstra:  Yeah, I do November and December with them, the winter tours. They’ve got an East Coast band and a West Coast band that go out for the winter tour, I’m actually the East Coast band.

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Mayhem Music Magazine:  With the versatility in gigs you are doing now, what guitar players initially influenced you and who the ones you appreciate today?

Joel Hoekstra:  Angus Young is a guy who made me want to pick up guitar, just as a kid I was really attracted to the concept of all that energy, you know? I mean, all the shots of him, like “High Voltage” and “Powerage”. He’s got all the electricity around him and that was kind of the vibe that I think, as a kid, I was looking at and I wanted to be like.  I definitely started off through metal guitar players.  I was very into Tony Iommi, Angus Young and Randy Rhoads at that time. And it just kind of branched out, getting into an era of being more into the bands that had more melodic players like Tom Scholz, Neal Schon, and Trevor Rabin.  At that point everybody was kind of learning how to get their chops together like Yngwie, Satriani, and Vai. So I dabbled with all of this and at the end of the day the guys that have had the most influence on me are kind of the people I’ve worked with really. That holds totally true today because I don’t have a lot of time to listen unfortunately. I’m gigging, doing about, I’d say 350 shows a year these days, so at the end of the day, honestly man, I get home from doing all these shows and I don’t really ever listen to anything unfortunately. So I just end up being influenced by who I’m playing with and by what I’m learning for the gigs and that’s just the way life is at this point. I think everybody’s got something to offer in the way they play guitar and there’s always something to learn from everybody.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  That’s a great perspective to have. You are one of the few musicians that truly is working non-stop?

Joel Hoekstra:  Yeah man, I’m lucky to have one of my gigs, much less the three.  It’s a tough business out there and there’s a lot of guys that can really play that don’t necessarily have gigs, so I mean, it is just a matter of just working really hard. That’s always been my philosophy, just trying to outwork everybody else to the point where things just eventually click and work out for you. But its making me hungrier in a way too, you know? It’s like I just want to be able to get through my life playing guitar because I don’t know what I can do. I don’t have other skills, you know? (said with a sense of humor)

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Do you ever find time for you?

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Joel Hoekstra:  Yeah, I have a day off in Houston, I’m working on getting Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s material together, so I’ll probably practice five or six hours or something like that but then the rest of the night will be me chilling out, so there is time for me. It’s not maybe as much as it used to be. There’s times where I wouldn’t mind taking a month and sitting on a beach somewhere but it’s not going to happen right now just because I’ve got work and it’s definitely not the right business to take time off and, you know?

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Very true, are you working on any material for another solo album?

Joel Hoekstra:  I really don’t have time for it right now. I would love to. I mean, there’s a couple things I would love to do, I would love to release a rock album with some of my favorite singers and musicians. It’s very rare that you end up in a hit Broadway show where I’m playing eight shows a week and then flying out to play with Night Ranger and Trans-Siberian does eight shows a week. I’m in a really unusually busy period right now. When things calm down to me playing 100 shows a year or something or 150 shows a year, then I’ll easily be able to get an album done.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Anything else that you have in the wings that you’d like us to know about?

Joel Hoekstra:  Hopefully I’ll see everybody out at the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Winter Tour this year.  If anybody has an opportunity to come see Night Ranger or “Rock of Ages” when you’re in New York, please come visit me. It’d be great to see people and please say hello.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You got it. Well, thank you for taking the time, Joel, and it was a pleasure talking with you man.

Joel Hoekstra:  Yeah dude, a pleasure to talk with you as well and keep in touch.


We hope you enjoyed this interview with Joel Hoekstra.  Be sure to check back for more music interviews.

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About The Author

I've been a part of music industry as a concert photographer for over thirty years. At an early age I hit the road shooting for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Quiet Riot, Ted Nugent, Twisted Sister, just to name a few. My love for music has never wavered. I started Mayhem Music Magazine as an outlet to share both established and new artists with others who truly love music.

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