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Articles Home » Music Talk » Running Games With Joel Hoekstra’s 13 Interview With Joel Hoekstra By Nina McCarthy
Running Games With Joel Hoekstra’s 13 Interview With Joel Hoekstra By Nina McCarthy

Running Games With Joel Hoekstra’s 13

Interview With Joel Hoekstra

By Nina McCarthy

Boston Rock Radio


Joel Hoekstra is an American guitarist best known to rock fans as the current guitarist of Whitesnake (and also tours with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Cher and is also known for his work with Night Ranger and the Broadway show Rock of Ages.) Hoekstra now returns with his second album Running Games from his solo project, Joel Hoekstra’s 13, which will be released on February 12, 2021 via Frontiers Music srl. Boston Rock Radio thanks Joel for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to talk about this new album. It was a pleasure.



Thanks for taking the time to talk to me tonight. I know you’re extremely busy!  I’ve been a long time fan of your guitar playing since the 80s so it’s an honor.

Awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you for your time.


For those unfamiliar with Joel Hoekstra’s 13, can you introduce this "supergroup"?

It’s Russell Allen (Symphony X and Adrenaline Mob) on vocals, Vinny Appice on drums (from Dio and Black Sabbath), Tony Franklin from Blue Murder and The Firm on bass, and Derek Sherinian from Dream Theater and Black Country Communion on keyboards, and Jeff Scott Soto helping on background vocals as well. Jeff has sung with many people, Yngwie Malmsteen is what he’s best known for.


It’s certainly some of the best of the best!

Yeah, they are all really talented musicians and all good guys, and good friends of mine from the business, so I’m definitely honored to have all of them.


The sophomore album for this project, Running Games will be released Feb 12 on Frontiers Music. I understand that you handled the bulk of the creative process for this album, showing us your skills in production and writing as well as your phenomenal guitar playing. Can you discuss that a little? 

It’s different, I suppose, than most bands, although it sounds like you're listening to a band as opposed to a solo guitar album, but really I’m writing everything from the lyrics, the melodies, and in terms of the writing end, it’s pretty much all on me. The production end of things is kind of simple. I just let people kind of play what they want to play so we can get a cohesive sound. Although I’m doing the writing of it, it allows people to have some creative expression in the projects. That’s basically the way I roll with it and Chris Collier does a great job with the mixing and is open to any of my suggestions. He’s really easy to work with when you’re putting together a record.

“Hard To Say Goodbye” was the first single released on all streaming platforms and YouTube. What made you choose this particular song to get your fans enticed?

I think the melody of that song; it’s a very melodic song. Ultimately Frontiers picks out the singles and I’m just kind of along for the ride. But, they asked me what I thought and I agreed that that one has a very hooky melody. Despite the fact that we’re dealing with kind of 80’s rock, essentially, it’s a very hooky song, a very catchy song. It just made sense. Then followed up by “Finish Line” which is a little bit more of a riff based song for the hard rock fans.


"Hard To Say Goodbye" Official Audio


I think any hard rock fans will love this album.  I think I even heard a slight flamenco guitar sound in one of the songs.

Probably the title track at the end, “Running Games.” That was the last song I wrote to kind of tie it all together. It’s really an acoustic song.


Yes, it’s beautiful.  I asked our other writer to review the full album, so that will be coming soon.

Sweet, thank you so much.

Lyrically, what themes are covered throughout the album?

The one constant theme throughout the album is escape and running away. I wrote a lot when I was on tour, on the road, so it’s all pre-Covid stuff. Some of it is lighthearted and not totally serious. But that seemed to be the theme, so Running Games seemed to make sense for a title.


“Reach The Sky” is probably my choice track. It was just that one song that would make me want to drive fast if I was listening in the car.

Alight, cool. Right on. I actually haven’t had much feedback, because the album isn’t out, so I’ve only really had feedback on the two singles that are out right now, so that’s nice to hear.


You mentioned “Finish Line” so let’s talk a little about the new animated video for that song.  You posted on social media that it has gotten over 30,000 views in 3 days! 

I am very excited that people are watching it and enjoying it. I think Wayne Joyner did a great job on the video and animation. I gave him a very loose concept of what it could be about, so he did a fantastic job. I’m very happy.

“Finish Line” Video

That animation of you is spot on. There’s no question it’s you. 

Yes (laughs).


You were touring constantly last year. In fact, I last saw you on the 2020 MORC cruise and then the pandemic hit. How have you had to adjust your schedule to keep busy during this time?

In 2019 I was on the road 285 days out of the year, which is kind of mental. At first it was a welcome break from that because I’m a dad so this gives me an opportunity to catch up with the family. Then once it became clear that this was going to go on, I thought that I couldn’t just burn a year of my life professionally here; I’ve got to figure out what’s going on. I’ve pretty much spent the time finishing the album, doing some projects, doing lots of sessions, quarantine videos, private lessons that I’m doing quite a bit of, and Master classes as well. Teaching has become a big part of this and I've been doing personalized messages for people, cameos, where I’m playing a lot. Really, at the end of the day,  with also doing press for the album, I’m busier than when I’m on tour, like by a mile. I’m pretty much going from the time I get up until I go to bed, right now.


I’m glad you’re keeping busy.

All things considered, things are going very well. I’m definitely blessed to be making a living at this point and to be healthy, so you count your blessings with this and you hope things get better. I’d love to be able to tour and play onstage for people. This is the first break I’ve had from that in the last 20 years, really. I haven’t gone this long without being on a stage in at least 20 years. It’s just different ways now to have my ego be satisfied I guess. By releasing music online and quarantine videos, that makes me feel somewhat like a performer in the interim. In the meantime, I’m totally happy focusing on guitar and music, it’s fine. I don’t necessarily need to be on stage to be happy as a guitar player, but it certainly helps, but I don’t 100 percent need it.


I can only relate in the fact that I haven’t been to a live show in about 10 months, and I was used to getting that fix at least once a week. So I can imagine this is a very weird situation for you.

It’s probably longer than 20 years for me to go this long without being on stage playing for people. Realistically, if I had to think about it, we’re probably talking a good 30 years that I have gone this long without playing on stage. There’s never been another time period like this for me.

It has certainly been unprecedented times for all of us. What are your weapons of choice on the road and in the studio?

I’m probably a Les Paul guy. On the album, I used my gold top Les Paul, which is my main guitar. I used a Fender Strat in some spots for clean sounds. I used a Jackson PC-1 when I wanted to use tremolo and the sustainer, to emulate feedback and things like that. That’s it, except for the Taylor Acoustics on any acoustic stuff. On the road, pretty much the same thing. I play Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strats and there’s a company that is called Atomic that makes cool guitars for me that made me a Les Paul style guitar that has purple Swarovski crystals on the top and a gold “WS” in the crystals. It’s a great looking guitar and it sounds good too.

Yes, I love that purple guitar!  Now, you’ve done a lot of collaborations. Is there one musician you have on your bucket list to collaborate with?

No, not really. I never really thought that way. I just try to do a good job with everything that comes up. I definitely enjoy being around people who work hard and get things done, positive minded people more. Anybody that fits the bill with that and has talent, that’s enough for me. I don’t necessarily pick out certain people and say, “Someday I want to play with them.”


Anything you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?

Like I said, I’m just happy to be at this stage of the game with what we’ve been dealing with as a society and making it through all this as a guitar player still. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the definition of success these days, to be able to get through your life making a living doing this. I think most, rock musicians at least, aren’t setting out anymore saying, “Hey I want a mansion and three Ferraris. We’re quite a bit more grounded these days, so for me to get this far, I’m very excited to feel like I’m making it through my life actually being a guitar player. It’s exciting for me.


Absolutely. Not many people can do that as a career as long as you have, so congrats on that. I’m really looking forward to everyone hearing the new album. Do you have any plans of touring with this project? 

You never know. I played one show in support of the first album, Dying to Live and that was actually on the Monster’s of Rock Cruise as well. It just depends what happens. Let’s get the world open and I’ll take it from there.


I hope to see this project live, but if not, I’ll see you on the road with one of your bands.

Awesome. I appreciate it very much. Thank you so much.


I appreciate your time, and like I said, I hope to see you on the other end of this!

Likewise. I hope to have an opportunity to say hello in person at some point.


For More Info Visit:


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Nina McCarthy, joined the Boston Rock Radio staff in December of 2015. Nina has freelanced for over 25 years, interviewing bands for various webzines. Nina currently focuses full time as the Senior Music Journalist and Digital Content Editor for BRR.  Nina is a very dedicated supporter of music. Contact Nina at for interviews, reviews, comments, or suggestions.


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