Whether he's performing as part of the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages or jetting around the country for Night Ranger recording sessions and shows, Joel Hoekstra is easily one the hardest-working guitarists you're likely to meet.
In addition to his aforementioned commitments, Hoekstra finds time to tour every fall with Trans Siberian Orchestra.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Night Ranger's monster 1983 album, Midnight Madness, and Hoekstra and the rest of the band — Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy and Eric Levy — are excited to celebrate it by recording a new album and performing more headlining shows.
I recently caught up with Hoekstra, who told me how Night Ranger's new album is coming along and his other musical projects. To keep up with Night Ranger, check out their official website and Facebook page.
GUITAR WORLD: Can you give us an update on the new Night Ranger album?
We have around 10 songs going right now, and we're all psyched about it. We're in a place where we can do the album we want to do, which is a classic "Night Ranger sounding" album. All of the music is really rocking. There's a lot of variety on this one. This one will still have all the signature sounds with harmony solos and melodic pop-rock songs.
Are you doing anything different this time around?
Normally we'd do most of the recording at Jack's studio, but we're doing the guitars at Brad's this time. We're also handling things a little bit differently. We layered a lot of the rhythms on our last studio album, Somewhere In California. For this one, we're going back to more of a vintage Night Ranger sound where instead of having multiple rhythm tracks, there's one rhythm guitar on each side. It's not only a nice throw back having one on each side, but it also makes the sound nice and clear, the way you'd hear it if you saw the band live.
What's the songwriting process like?
The bulk of it starts with Jack, Brad and Kelly. Sometimes Brad will come in with a riff, or Jack will come in with chords and a melody or Kelly will have a song idea. Their ideas often come from a progression/melody standpoint. Brad writes a good amount of the riffs, and there's a few on this one that Brad and I wrote together. One of them we're really excited about. Eric Levy [keyboards] also has been working on a ballad idea that might make the album as well.
What other projects are you involved in?
I'm still doing Rock of Ages and hopefully the TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) tour in the winter. I'm also doing quite a bit of session work and co-writing these days. I think it's important to have many musical expansions. It makes you a better player. Every time you do something, you're learning and getting better, so it's important to keep those experiences flowing.
Joel Hoekstra's Guitar World "Lick of the Day" Lesson Videos
"Growing Up In California"
"Lay It On Me"
"Rock of Ages"
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.