JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 To Release “Dying To Live” via Frontiers Music SRL on October 16th
Mayhem Music Magazine reviews Joel Hoekstra’s solo album “Dying To Live” and we find out more about Joel Hoekstra’s 13 as we talk with the newly appointed Whitesnake guitarist
In the music industry, Joel Hoekstra has been the “go to” guy when it comes to melodic rock guitar players. When Night Ranger needed a guitarist, they called Joel. When the play “Rock of Ages” hit Broadway, they called Joel. When Tran-Siberian Orchestra needed a shredder, they called Joel. When David Coverdale’s Whitesnake needed a guitarist, yeah….you know who they called. Joel has always had the talent to alter his style to what others have needed, when it came time for Joel to release his own rock album, this was something he did without any altering.
He has previously released three instrumental solo albums and wanted to convey a more band sounding album this time around. Although a band sounding album is what you get, this is an effort where Joel wrote all the music, lyrics, and produced the album himself. What you get on Joel Hoekstra’s 13 album entitled “Dying To Live” is a well-played melodic album that focuses on the quality of the songs first instead of just something for a guitarist to solo over.
“Dying To Live” is Joel’s labor of love that is reminiscent of a time when choruses mattered and the songs were embodied with tasteful musicianship. He does this with a modern sound that keeps the music not only fresh but relevant.
When Joel decided to reach out to musicians to assist him in getting what he wanted for each track, he started with only the best in each field. He brought in Bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder), drummer Vinnie Appice (Black Sabbath/Dio), and two vocalists splitting the duties of lead and background Russell Allen (Adrenaline Mob/Symphony X) and Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen/Trans-Siberian Orchestra). He also brought in Derek Sherinian (Joe Bonamassa/Black Country Communion), Chloe Lowery (Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Yanni) for the duet “What We Believe” with Jeff Scott Soto, and other notable special guest.
Joel orchestrates a powerful album that gives you a rollercoaster ride with adrenaline rockers like “Say Goodbye to the Sun” and “Anymore”. He also shows a subtle side with songs like “Changes” and “Long for the Days”. One of the many things I enjoy about this album is that the choruses are so strong that they could be the anthems of tomorrow. You get this while still appreciating Joel’s incredible guitar work.
Simply put, if you like rocking to melodies, killer guitar riffs, and great vocals, this is an album definitely worth having in your collection.
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – “Dying To Live” will be available October 16th via Frontiers Music SRL.
Track Listing For Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Dying To Live
- Say Goodbye To The Sun
- Until I Left You
- Long For The Days
- Never Say Never
- The Only Way To Go
- Dying To Live
- Start Again
- What We Believe
- Kill or Be Killed (Bonus Track digital download)
After playing the album all week and enjoying all that I’ve heard, I reached out to Joel to find out in his own words more about the creation of Joel Hoekstra’s 13 “Dying To Live”. He was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Where did the album title come from?
Joel Hoekstra: Well the project name Joel Hoekstra’s 13 is basically because I put out three solo albums years ago that were instrumental guitar albums and this is the album that more represents the genre I’m known for these days. From being in Night Ranger, Rock of Ages, Trans Siberian Orchestra, and now of course Whitesnake. So this sounds very much like a band but the reality is I did all the writing so I thought a project name was the most appropriate thing. So Joel Hoekstra’s 13 is the name of the project and the album is called “Dying To Live”. It comes out October 16th on Frontiers (Music SRL). It’s not a concept album but there’s a theme to the lyrics and it’s just about overcoming the obstacles in your life to arrive to who you are meant to be. Those daily struggles we all deal with. I did all the writing, the whole nine yards. It’s melodic hard rock that I would describe as being Dio-ish at its heaviest and Foreigner at its lightest.
Mayhem Music Magazine: When did you originally start writing the songs for the album?
Joel Hoekstra: I was actually still in Night Ranger when I think I wrote some of the first riffs for it. I would say from the time I wrote the first riff until the time of its release I would say about two years.
Mayhem Music Magazine: How did you choose the players on this album and what made you decide this time around that you wanted a vocalist and how did you choose Russell? (Adrenaline Mob)
Joel Hoekstra: In terms of why a vocalist, I could have probably sung on the album but I wanted this album to be an A+ and not a B-. I thought I’d stick to what I do best. I do have two of the best singers in rock today singing on it in Russell Allen and Jeff Scott Soto. That’s a total honor for me and as far as how it all came together, I didn’t really set out to have this be like a super band album. With that being said, I think it’s one of the best line ups to ever be on a classic rock album. It came together piece by piece. I started by asking Tony Franklin which we had just finished another project together called ‘VHF’ and I asked Tony if he would be into doing a straight ahead rock album with vocals. He was into it and I asked who would you want to use on drums and he recommended Vinny Appice. From there, Russell Allen had just signed up to do Trans Siberian Orchestra tour that I do. I was totally blown away when I checked him out. This is the guy to sing on this. So he sang on the first half of the songs then I called in a favor from Jeff Scott Soto who I’ve done some work with in the past co-writing and playing for him. He’s way over qualified to sing backgrounds but that’s what I asked him to do on Russell’s tracks. He sounded amazing on there and it became clear that it was going to be a project album I just wanted Jeff to sing some lead too. There were some songs that were coming that were right for his voice so Jeff sang lead on the second half of the album. After I got done layering all my guitars etcetera, I still thought there was still room for keyboards and I started at the top and asked Derek Sherinian if he’d be willing and he was and just totally hit it out of the park in terms of tasteful playing. All the right sounds and all the right parts and the solos he does have he just totally kicks ass.
Mayhem Music Magazine: Were you concerned that with such talented musicians that the album could steer away from rock and go more progressive?
Joel Hoekstra: I really tried to avoid writing too progressive or too much just for musicians on this one. I wanted this one to just be good rock songs tastefully played by good players. I tried to avoid the three minute guitar solos and make it very much about good rock songs.
Mayhem Music Magazine: With you joining Whitesnake, how difficult was it to complete this album at that point?
Joel Hoekstra: I think that’s why it’s taken two years. Not only my schedule but everybody else’s involved. Russell Allen’s incredibly busy with Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob and he also does Tran Siberian Orchestra. Yeah, so everbody has commitments so it was basically done on downtime over the last year or two like I said. I’m very excited to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and be getting it out to the world.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You wanted to put out a melodic rock album & the songs are very versatile when it comes to melody. Where there any bands that you were attempting to channel or pay homage to during the song writing process?
Joel Hoekstra: Not necessarily, I think there’s a lot of my influences are in there. You take a song like ‘Long For The Days’, I think it’s definitely influenced by Rainbow, Foreigner, and Zeppelin. You can just hear it on there when you listen to it. I think that you can hear my influences but I try to avoid any direct rip off kind of thing. I think there are ways of being tastefully derivative. There’s definitely a Ronnie James Dio influence on ‘Say Goodbye To The Sun’.
Mayhem Music Magazine: I’ve been listening to the album and it’s difficult to say which song is my favorite because every song is so strong and just great melodic rock. One of the things I enjoy about melodic rock songs is that so many have become rock anthems. Is this something that you were going for during your songwriting?
Joel Hoekstra: My style is to write chorus out. I think if they sound like anthems it’s usually because I concentrate on a really strong chorus first for a song and just build out from there. I appreciate the compliment, I’m really glad you think every song is strong. The fun thing is there’s an album sampler online that people can check out. I’ve been asking people what their favorite song is and at some point somebody has listed every single song. That’s really exciting for me.
Mayhem Music Magazine: You mentioned Russell and Jeff on vocals but the vocals of Chloe Lowery (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) doing the duet with Jeff on “What We Believe” is incredible. Was she your original choice for the female vocals?
Joel Hoekstra: That’s who I had in mind from the beginning. It’s a song about relationships and I wanted a male/female duet. Man I’ll tell you what, Chloe Lowery is just a superstar in waiting. She’s just incredible. What a great singer and she’s such a sweetheart of a person. I think there’s a huge future ahead for her. To have her and Jeff singing together on that track is awesome.
Mayhem Music Magazine: What does this album mean to you?
Joel Hoekstra: I wrote it from the heart and I feel there are no throw away tracks on this. It’s about something to me which means a lot in terms of the quality of an album. I definitely put my heart and soul into it and it’s a labor of love for me. It’s more about the work of art than the business end of it for me. I hope people dig it.
We would like to thank Joel Hoekstra for talking again with Mayhem Music Magazine. We hope you enjoyed this review and interview. Be sure to check back for more in the world of music.
We would also like to thank photographer Raymond Ahner for the use of his live concert photos.
For more on Joel, check out the links below
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Long For The Days
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Until I Left You
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 – Anymore
Joel Hoekstra Guitar Solo
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 Dying To Live Album Sampler
Joel Hoekstra’s Social Links:
The Joel Hoekstra Website