WHITESNAKE guitarist Joel Hoekstra spoke to "10 Questions With The Musical Mind" about his contributions to the band's upcoming studio album, "Flesh & Blood", which will be released on May 10 via Frontiers Music Srl. The disc follows the 2011 critically acclaimed studio album "Forevermore" and 2015's "The Purple Album", a reimagining of DEEP PURPLE classics from WHITESNAKE mastermind's David Coverdale's time in that band.
Asked about the songwriting process for "Flesh & Blood", Joel said: "I came in with some riff ideas, and Reb [Beach, guitar] came in with some riff ideas, but really, the way David seemed to prefer to get things going was he would have the basic idea of a song. He writes everything on kind of a smaller-scale nylon-string guitar — of all things. No one would picture that, but that's David's thing — he likes to sit at his desk and play on that. He comes up with all the foundations for his songs that way. So he had a lot of things to get the ball rolling. That was the way that, in general, it worked. There were exceptions to the rule, but he would either then say to me, 'Where would you go with this? or he would say to Reb, 'Where would you go with this?' or he would say to both of us, 'Where would you go with this?' 'Cause there was a period when Reb and I were both there, and that was when we were really trying to demo all the songs that were gonna be on the album and even some that didn't get on the album. So Reb and I would take that idea that we would hash out really quickly around the desk…"
He continued: "David moves real quick — it's, like, 'Where would you go with this?' Your first idea has to be good. He doesn't like to overwrite. He likes the three-chord rock thing. Reb said it in an interview that I read, and I was, like, 'Well, that's an appropriate way to put it.' David likes to keep things simple and kind of guttural, which is great; he follows that songwriting instinct of keeping it simple. And then Reb and I would go down into the actual studio, demo up the song and present it to David and maybe make some edits from there, or something like that. And then, eventually, once everything was demoed with a drum machine, essentially, or drum samples, then we went ahead and tracked the songs properly with the band."
On the topic of how the production process for "Flesh & Blood" was different from that for "The Purple Album", which marked Joel's first recording with WHITESNAKE, the guitarist said: "'The Purple Album' was creativity in terms of what guitar parts I was gonna play, and I had to invent guitar parts that weren't pre-existing on that stuff. 'Cause, obviously, PURPLE was more either Ritchie [Blackmore] or Tommy Bolin with Jon Lord, and we weren't gonna go as heavy on the keyboards, so there was more creativity than people realize. But certainly, 'Flesh & Blood' is the next step — actually co-writing with David and co-writing with Reb and having some of my ideas actually on the album. And in the end, actually, being brought in as co-producer, just for kind of big-picture ideas and things of that nature. So, yeah, it's definitely a step further for me."
Joining Coverdale, Hoekstra and Beach on "Flesh & Blood" are Michael Devin on bass, Tommy Aldridge on drums, and Michele Luppi on keyboards.
Since joining WHITESNAKE five years ago, Hoekstra has really come into his own, not only as a highly impressive axe-slinger, but also as a very accomplished songwriter too, co-writing six of the songs for "Flesh & Blood" with Coverdale. Of course, Joel's talents are hardly surprising, considering he's the son of two classical musicians.
Hoekstra hooked up with WHITESNAKE following the departure of Doug Aldrich.
The Chicago native's résumé includes a long stint in NIGHT RANGER, as well as a gig as the touring guitarist for TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA.