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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Monday, May 13, 2019

Exclusive Interview: Joel Hoekstra on Whitesnake's Upcoming Tour, More Cher Gigs and an Update on His Solo Project

(Photo: Whitesnake Promo Shot)


If you're a rock fan then Joel Hoekstra is a man who needs precious little introduction. He spent several years onstage in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages and used that experience to launch a career that has him now playing beside some of his childhood favorites. Hoekstra believes that greatness comes from playing as often as he can and working with bands like Foreigner, Night Ranger and of course, Whitesnake (to name only a few) has helped to shape him into the major rock fixture that he is. 

This year finds Hoekstra not only bouncing between gigs but finding a way to make it look pretty effortless. Whitesnake is just days away from launching their Flesh & Blood World Tour and I was able to steal a few minutes of the versatile virtuoso's time this past week. 

Cate Meighan: Whitesnake rehearsals have officially started now haven't they?

Joel Hoekstra: Yes, we are pretty much spot on in the middle of rehearsals. We're working on new songs in particular and trying new things live. We've been trying different arrangements and just figuring out how to construct the show. That was our day yesterday, basically figuring out the running order and things like that, it's really been a great time for us. 

CM: How does it feel to finally have the "Flesh & Blood" album release right around the corner, especially after it was delayed for a while?

JH: Oh it's great, I mean we're all excited to finally have it out (laughing). It's really fantastic to have it finally meet the rest of the world especially since we've known the songs for a while now, it's exciting. I understand the reasoning for the timeline and why it has taken a while though so I wasn't really frustrated with the delay. Plus I've been really, really busy so that has helped keep my mind off of it and now it's just exciting for all of us.

CM: So tell me, how will this Whitesnake tour be different from the last one?

JH: These are going to be longer shows because we're headlining and so it'll be mainly our audience. Last summer was really a test to make sure that David (Coverdale) was good with his knees and so we went out and just played a 60-minute set.  It was a test to make sure that he could get through a few months out there on the road. This is going to be a much fuller schedule and you've only seen just the beginning of the show announcements. By the time all is said and done, we'll have done a lot to support the new album as well as the classic stuff. It's really exciting to be able to get out there to play some headlining shows with some deeper cuts of music and the hits too, of course.

David is just indestructible man (laughing), he's going to rock until there is just no rock left. He inspires us all and he does it because he loves it. He is just in love with the process and in love with everything about it. It just makes him happy and so it's good to be a part of that situation with him.

Photo: Cate Meighan

CM: That's not your only work situation though. You just wrapped up more dates with Cher, this time on an arena tour. How was that experience?

JH: The arena shows are just huge and I was really blown away because some of the shows were over 20,000 people. That was a bit of a surprise because the Vegas residencies are smaller. They were in like a 5,000 seat theater and so to be able to get out in front of 20,000 people is pretty amazing. I saw the size of some of the venues but you can always curtain off a venue to make it smaller and so I don't think that I ever would have foreseen 20,000 people actually in an audience. The whole band was so excited about it and I look at anything that happens with that Cher gig as just a positive blessing  It was so out of left field to get it, so anything that comes my way because of it is really cool. I've also been able to come and go with it, you know she has let me do other things and then return when I can. That has just been so amazing of her and I'll be back with her May 20 - 30th for a quick Canadian arena tour and then another Vegas residency in August.

CM: It really is amazing how you find ways to make the dots connect so that you can juggle multiple gigs.

JH: It's almost a mandatory thing now unless you're part of a band that broke a long time ago and actually wrote the material, so then you've sold millions of albums. If you didn't do that (laughing) then you do what I'm doing these days, which is to play multiple gigs. Some fans really don't like that but some understand that this is the current landscape for musicians to make a living. It gets lost on people that not everyone is just rolling in dough, but most of us are just like everyone else. If someone told you that you could only work a third out of your year and only make a third of the money you'd say no way (laughing). As much as you're living your dream and pursuing your passion with music it still is the way that musicians pay their bills and earn a living. Having more on your plate helps you to do that and I also see it as getting paid to get even better at playing. That's the big thing, not only can you pay the bills but you're also improving and pushing yourself one level further at what you love. 

Photo: Jay Marz

CM: I spoke with Michael Sweet recently and he was so excited to have you working on a few songs that will be on his new solo release "Ten" that drops later this year. How was that experience for you?

JH: I'm excited about that too. He just wanted to kind of make what sounds like an old school 80's metal record to me. He gave me guidelines like, 'Write a song that's a mash-up of these ideas', and so I sent him three songs. He liked all three but since he is spreading the album evenly with all of the guests,  we're doing two of them. They sound really great and Michael is awesome, such a good dude. He works quickly and we're both on the same page so eventually, we're going to have to do a full album, especially after listening to these songs. We've been talking about it and wanting to do it for so long that eventually, we're going to have to figure out the business side of it. 

CM: The fans are all wondering about another solo project. Is there anything in the works?

JH: I'm working on a follow up to my Joel Hoekstra's 13 "Dying to Live" record that came out in 2015. It's fully written and the drums and bass are done. I have no release date or info regarding a timeline for it yet (laughing) but it's coming. It really is coming. 

Photo: Cate Meighan

Check out everything that Joel has coming up by visiting his official site. Check out Whitesnake's official site for tour dates, merch & more!  Their new release "Flesh & Blood" is out on May 10th and you can also catch them at the M3 Rock Festival May 3-5th in Columbia, MD!