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By Dave B. Roberts. Check out this interview in its entirety featured in the forthcoming Ax Facts & Stats Volume 2 book due for release SOON, featuring Q&As not featured in the online interviews!

Ax Facts & Stats with guitarist Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger/Rock of Ages/Trans Siberian Orchestra)

By Dave B. Roberts (Photo © copyright Dave B. Roberts - Be sure to check out this interview in its entirety featured in the forthcoming Ax Facts & Stats Volume 2 book, featuring Q&As not featured in the online interviews!

My name is:
Joel Hoekstra.

My current job is:

My hometown:
New York City.

My current album or project is:
I play for Night Ranger, the Broadway hit show Rock of Ages and Trans Siberian Orchestra and have 3 cd's of my own.

Former bands:
Foreigner, Dee Snider, Jeff Scott Soto, Scrap Metal, Jim Peterik's World Stage, The Turtles, Big Brother & the Holding Company.

My guitar influences growing up were:
Too many to name. Started out mainly influenced by hard rock bands like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, then gravitated towards melodic players like Tom Sholz, Neal Schon and also technical players like Steve Morse, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen. Now I'm mainly influenced by who I work with.

The guitars I use are:
Gibson electrics, Taylor acoustics, Atomic electrics

The strings and tunings I use are:
I use Ernie Ball strings. I am in standard tuning for Rock of Ages and TSO for the most part and 1/2 step down for Night Ranger. I also used Open G, open-D and DADGAD on my album 13 acoustic songs.

My current rig setup consists of:
I use the Fractal AXE-FX for Rock of Ages and Trans Siberian Orchestra and EVHIII amps with Night Ranger.

My normal songwriting process consists of:
Nothing normal. It depends on what I'm writing. If it's pop/rock, I start with harmony, melody, structure and chorus lyrics.

My favorite guitar solo from our band:
In Night Ranger, I love playing "LA Name" (an acoustic duet with Brad Gillis) and Brad and I are very proud of our ride out double solo on "Follow Your Heart" from our album Somewhere in California (2011)

My favorite all-time guitar solo (from another guitarist):
I don't think I have one.

Favorite all-time song (any artist) is:
Again, I don't really have one.

Favorite song by our band:
"Sister Christian." It's just so much fun to play it for a big crowd and hear everyone singing along. Just awesome!

Favorite song to perform in front of a live audience:
Again, "Sister Christian." Though, when I filled in for Mick Jones of Foreigner for a bit I have to say playing "Jukebox Hero" live was absolutely incredible.

My Career highlight thus far is:
Maintaining Night Ranger, Rock of Ages and Trans Siberian Orchestra for the last 4-5 years has been absolutely amazing. A great era. Most people would be lucky to have one of those gigs, much less all 3. Filling in for Mick Jones of Foreigner on 24 hours notice was also an incredible honor and a noteworthy highlight.

My most embarrassing moment on stage:
I've wiped out twice. There's just no way to look cool doing it!

Other than my guitar and amps, the one piece of my gear that I cannot live without is:
Nothing. Guitars and amps are all I need!

The first song I ever mastered on guitar:

My first guitar was:
an Electra Westone.

The first time I ever heard our band on the radio was:
I heard my solo cd undefined on the radio in Chicago when I was 29. Very exciting!

If I am only sure of one thing in life, It's:
I'm going to work extremely hard to be the best I can be.

The one ritual I always perform prior to going on stage is:
I always warm up and usually say a quick prayer right before the first downbeat, to thank God for the opportunity and ask him to let me play to the best of my ability.

The exact moment I knew I would pursue a career in music was:
When I started playing guitar.

The one thing most fans don't know about me is: I love basketball.
I'm a huge Chicago Bulls fan.

The best advice I could give beginning guitarists:
You will get back what you put into it. "Natural' talent is overrated. If you put in the time, you're going to be good.

CD(s) I'm listening to right now:
Night Ranger's upcoming release. We are writing for it right now and exchanging song ideas. I play about 375 shows a year, so I don't have much time to listen (unfortunately).

My 3 all-time favorite albums:
AC/DC-Back in Black, The Sundays-Reading Writing & Arithmetic, Trevor Rabin-Can't Look Away.

Best gig:
My first show with Night Ranger was on no rehearsal and I only had 10 days to learn the songs. It was like jumping out of a plane not knowing if you had a parachute and when it opened it was an amazing feeling. I had the same experience filling in for Mick in Foreigner....Only 24 hours notice and very limited rehearsal time.

Favorite junk food:

My biggest pet peeve:
"Do Not Disturb" signs that don't stay on doorknobs when you open/shut your hotel door!

The word or catch phrase I say too much is:

The hardest part of my job:
playing as many shows as I do.

What I like to do in my "off" time:
watch sports, Family Guy and movies

The first thing I do when I come home from touring is:

Previous or first day job:
I started teaching guitar at 14 or 15 years old, but also worked at Guitar Center and at a gas station along the way.

Right after this interview I'm going to:
Board a red eye flight from San Francisco to NYC and play 2 shows tomorrow in "Rock of Ages."

I couldn't imagine being on the road without:
My carry-on bag. I know where everything goes. It's like an old friend!

If I wasn't doing the musician thing, I could really see myself working as:
Some type of artist. I think one way or another I'd always want to be a creative person.

Favorite movie:

My mission in life: To do the best I can with guitar.
Provide for my family and hopefully be remembered as one of the greats.

My guilty pleasure band or artist:
I'm a sucker for most stupid pop stuff...

My next goal is:
I want to play rock on the highest level!

The greatest contribution guitars/music have brought into my life is:
Giving me purpose.

Check out our Website at: - -

The one musician I would love to work with that I have not yet had the chance would be:
There are so many, but jamming with Angus Young would be special.

If I could have three wishes, they would be:

  • That my family is provided for and are happy.
  • I get to play guitar for a living the rest of my life.
  • I am remembered as someone special when I die.

    When it's all said and done, I want the world to remember me for:
    Being a good guy who gave his all to music and hopefully did some very special things.


    Copyright February 7 2013 Dave Roberts & is the web home of articles and interviews written by Dave Roberts. All Dave Roberts interviews & articles are available for use or FREE reprint ONLY by Permission and proper credits. Permission can be obtained by contacting All materials are Copyright 1999-2012 Dave Roberts and OnTourGuide Ent., All Rights Reserved.


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