Category Archives: Guitar World Interviews

Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Discusses His New Gig with Whitesnake

JoelHoekstra2Whether he’s performing as part of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, touring with Trans-Siberian Orchestra every fall or jetting around the country for sessions and shows, Joel Hoekstra is one of the hardest-working guitarists you’re ever likely to meet.

And now he’s taken on another challenge.

It was recently announced that Hoekstra would be leaving his gig with Night Ranger to become the new guitarist in Whitesnake, replacing departing guitarist Doug Aldrich.

Hoekstra’s seven-year tenure with Night Ranger included three critically acclaimed albums and tours, not to mention being part of a killer one-two punch with guitar great Brad Gillis.

With Whitesnake, Hoesktra finds himself in a band whose ranks over the years also were filled by guitar royalty: John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Steve Vai, Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Hoekstra will join a Whitesnake lineup that includes David Coverdale (vocals), Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (bass) and Tommy Aldridge (drums).

I recently caught up with Hoekstra and asked him about the new Whitesnake gig and also got a sneak peak into the band’s next album. I also asked him what he’ll miss most about his time with Night Ranger.

GUITAR WORLD: How did you first hear about the Whitesnake opportunity?

Oddly enough, Doug [Aldrich] and I are friends and were texting the night before the news came online. He didn’t mention anything about it to me at the time. All he said was there was some news coming. The next day, I woke up to hear Doug would be leaving Whitesnake.

How did you wind up getting the gig with the band?

I think it was a combination of me putting out some feelers and some people recommending me for it that led to me going out to meet with David at the end of May to hang/audition. That went well, so the next step was to go back in August to play on material for the upcoming Whitesnake album and to make sure it was going to be a good fit for both sides. At that point, I started to realize this was really happening.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Joel Hoekstra by Clicking Here!

‘World On Fire’: Slash Discusses New Solo Album, Gibson Les Pauls and Guns N’ Roses

Slash_-_World_on_FireOver the course of his illustrious career—one that includes time in Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver—Slash has amassed album sales of more than 100 million, garnered a Grammy (to go with his seven nominations) and was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Slash also has seen plenty of success with his solo albums. Both his Slash and Apocalyptic Love offerings landed in the top five of the Billboard albums chart.

World On Fire, which will be released September 16, is Slash’s second album with his official band, the Conspirators, which features Myles Kennedy (vocals), Brent Fitz (drums) and Todd Kerns (bass).

From the infectious up-tempo aggressiveness of the album’s title track to the sexual politics of songs like “Battleground,” “Dirty Girl” and the coming-of-age “Bent To Fly,” the 17-song opus delves into a wide range of topics. World On Fire also features a rocking instrumental, “Safari Inn.”

Produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Alter Bridge, Falling In Reverse, Incubus), World On Fire is a diverse record that covers a multitude of musical feels with a rawness and energy that’s reminiscent of Slash’s early work with Guns N’ Roses.

Make no mistake about it: World On Fire is not a solo project. It was recorded by a band with all four members contributing their strengths as a whole.

Slash is touring with Aerosmith on the “Let Rock Rule” tour. I recently spoke with him about World On Fire, touring, his love of Les Pauls and, of course, some of the most memorable moments from his career.

Read my complete
gw_logoInterview with Slash by Clicking Here!

‘One For The Road’: Cinderella Guitarist Jeff LaBar Delivers First Solo Album

Jeff Labar CD CoverFor several years, Cinderella guitarist Jeff LaBar had always promised to make good on his quest to record a solo album.

After years of waiting, the time has finally arrived. LaBar’s new album, One for the Road, was recorded in Nashville with long-time friend and engineer Ronnie Honeycutt and features mixing by Cinderella bandmate Fred Coury, with mixing and mastering by Chris Collier (KXM, Lynch Mob, Lita Ford).

What’s unique about LaBar’s first solo endeavor is that not only does it showcase LaBar’s guitar playing, but it also highlights his singing and songwriting prowess. Aside from drums by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta, all of the instruments and vocals on One for the Road are performed by LaBar, a true “solo” album.

The new album also captures the magic and spirit of a genre of music LaBar helped define. “No Strings” has a classic Cinderella feel, while songs like “Asking for a Beating” and ”Nightmare on My Street” take on a far heavier edge. Then there’s the acoustic-flavored “Hello or Goodbye,” which speaks to LaBar’s folk influences.

I recently caught up with LaBar and asked him about One for the Road, which was released today, August 26, plus guitars and more!

Read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Jeff Labar by Clicking Here!

Richie Kotzen Discusses New ‘Essential’ Package and Memorable Moments from His Career

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen

With styles ranging from rock and blues to jazz and soul, Richie Kotzen has built an eclectic career as guitarist, singer and songwriter.

Over a period of 20 years, Kotzen has accumulated a loyal fan base and has consistently sold out shows throughout the world.

Still, there are many who question what Kotzen is capable of musically. Kotzen’s new Essential package is sure to answer that question.

The Essential Richie Kotzen — which is slated to be released September 2 — contains material curated from Kotzen’s entire career (which has spawned 18 solo albums), not including his work with Poison and the Winery Dogs.

The new package was purposely designed to give listeners the most comprehensive, concise introduction to Kotzen’s extensive body of work.

The Essential Richie Kotzen includes two CDs of classic Kotzen material as well as two new songs, along with a DVD of music videos, acoustic performances and bootleg material. It’s the ultimate collection of music for Kotzen fans.

I recently spoke with Kotzen about the Essential package, his upcoming solo album and some of the most memorable moments of his career.

You can read my completed
gw_logoWith Richie Kotzen by Clicking Here!

F#CK: Buckcherry Guitarist Keith Nelson Talks New EP, Signature Les Paul

Never a band to play by the rules, Buckcherry have made a career out of pushing the boundaries — and buttons — of conventional rock while doing things their own way. It’s a strategy that has paid off with successful studio albums and singles over the last decade.

Keith Nelson (Photo: Matt Christine)

Keith Nelson (Photo: Matt Christine)

Buckcherry’s boldest and perhaps most controversial release to date might be Fuck, a new EP that unapologetically rattles the speakers as much as it will the censors.

The new EP, which will be released August 19, consists of six hook-laden tracks that feature guitarist Keith Nelson’s gritty riffs and vocalist Josh Todd’s sharp-tongued lyrics — including an unconventional yet tasty spin on Icona Pop’s hit song “I Love It,” which the band has (naturally) renamed “Say Fuck It.”

Buckcherry — Josh Todd (lead vocals), Keith Nelson (lead guitar), Stevie D. (rhythm guitar), Xavier Muriel (drums) and Kelly Lemieux (bass) — will soon team up with Godsmack, Seether and Skillet for this year’s Uproar Festival, which kicks off August 15 in Detroit, Michigan.

Meanwhile, Nelson has contributed “Louis,” one of his original 1959 Les Pauls, to the Gibson Custom Shop, where the staff has painstakingly analyzed every detail of the guitar’s look, sound and wear to create a near-perfect replica for Collector’s Choice #17. You can see a photo of Gibson’s version of the guitar in the gallery below.

We recently caught up with Nelson to discuss the new EP and the process behind the making of his “new” Les Paul.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Keith Nelson by Clicking Here!

Steve Morse Talks Deep Purple History and U.S. Tour, Plus New Flying Colors Album, ‘Second Nature’

Deep Purple’s latest album, 2013’s Now What?!, marked the opening of next chapter in the band’s 46-year career.

Deep Purple

Deep Purple

Blending the spirit of classic Seventies Deep Purple with modern production and a progressive mindset, the album reached Number 1 in several countries, including Germany and Russia, and gave the band its first British Top 20 album in 20 years.

Guitarist Steve Morse is celebrating his 20th anniversary with Deep Purple by joining the band for a month’s worth of U.S tour dates that will take them from Washington state to Florida — and pretty much everywhere in between.

The band’s current lineup is Ian Paice (drums), Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Steve Morse (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards).

I recently spoke with Morse and got an update on the Deep Purple tour, his gear and the new Flying Colors album, Second Nature, which is due for an August 30 release. In Flying Colors, Morse is joined by Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Dave LaRue and Casey McPherson.

GUITAR WORLD: How has reaction been to Deep Purple’s Now What?!?

It’s been really good, and I credit that to Bob Ezrin [producer] for keeping the energy and focus of the band and for getting that little bit extra out of everyone. There was a heavy emphasis on pre-production for this album, and Bob really worked hard behind the scenes — even before we had recorded a single note.

What can you tell me about the musical influences that inspired the track “All the Time in the World”?

Don Airey is a big fan of American-style music. He can just pick up and start playing any Booker T. & the M.G.s tune or any jazz standard. He’s really eclectic in that way. Then there’s Ian Paice, who was into R&B, swing and jazz even before he came into Deep Purple. We all have our different influences. That particular song has a Motown, rhythm-and-groove kind of feel to it.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Steve Morse by Clicking Here!

‘Rock Your Face Off': Kix Guitarists Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe Talk New Album

Two decades can be a long time to wait for a new studio album, but Kix prove the wait was certainly worth it.

Kix

Since reuniting in 2003 and adding bassist Mark Schenker to the lineup, Kix have experienced a resurgence in popularity—as well as a passion to create new music. Rock Your Face Off, which was released today, August 5, is the band’s first new studio album in nearly 20 years. It also continues in the band’s high-energy tradition.

Produced by Taylor Rhodes, Rock Your Face Off is a collection of blues-inspired rock that combines catchy hooks and tasty riffs with the inspired musicianship and party atmosphere Kix are known for.

Kix consists of Steve Whiteman (vocals), Ronnie Younkins (guitar), Brian Forsythe (guitar), Jimmy Chalfant (drums) and Mark Schenker (bass).

I recently caught up with Younkins and Forsythe to discuss the new album, gear and more.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe Rock Your Face Off?

Younkins: It’s high-energy rock and roll with hard-driving guitars and bluesy rock solos. Every instrument is present and in your face, and Steve’s vocals are better than ever. I’m so proud of this album.

This is the first new studio album from Kix in nearly 20 years. What sparked this project?

Forsythe: When we first reformed at the end of 2003, our intention was to just have fun. We never realized it would take off like it did. But after several years of doing shows around the Baltimore area and expanding out into the country, people started asking us about a record. We knew it was time.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Forsythe and Younkins by Clicking Here!

‘Museum’: Former White Lion Vocalist Mike Tramp Talks New Music, Guitars and Touring

TrampFor former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp, it’s no longer about filling arenas, selling T-shirts or playing the old songs. Today, Tramp focuses on one main thing: following his heart.

It’s why he’s spent the better part of the past two years touring the world with just a guitar, playing everywhere from sports bars to small hunting lodges deep in the Pennsylvania wilderness, places where Tramp says he feels right at home.

And although there have been glimpses of Tramp’s inner-self in his White Lion past (“When the Children Cry” comes to mind), perhaps there’s no better reflection of Tramp’s soul than his new album, Museum, which will be released August 18.

From the Seventies vibe of songs like “Down South” to his own frustration (“Trust in Yourself”) and personal healing (“Better”), Tramp’s pain, love and frustration are on full display. Listening to Museum, one quickly discovers the bloodline that is Mike Tramp. There’s no makeup or make believe. Just plenty of truth.

I recently spoke to Tramp about his new album, gear and the satisfaction he gets from his vagabond touring lifestyle.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe this new album as a whole?

It’s a true reflection of me as a songwriter and about not being controlled by the “image” anymore. It’s knowing that the guidelines, doors and walls that surrounded White Lion back in the Eighties just don’t exist for me anymore. I’ve taken a step to try to create something that’s recognizable and has connections to my past, but is still part of the future.

Why the title Museum?

I fell in love with music when I was growing up in the late Sixties and Seventies, back when so many bands would just record an album and not worry about whether or not it would fit in with the other songs they’ve done before. I remember being in the studio and saying, “This is like being inside of a museum in its own time.” These are displays of songs that represent who I am.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoInterview with Mike Tramp by Clicking Here!

‘Rockabilly Riot’: Brian Setzer Talks New Album, Gretsch Guitars and Future of Rockabilly

Rockabilly Riot - Brian SetzerFollowing last year’s successful Christmas tour with his 18-piece orchestra, iconic guitarist, songwriter and three-time Grammy winner Brian Setzer entered the studio to get back to his rockabilly roots — with incredible results.

Setzer’s new album, Rockabilly Riot: All Original, which will be released August 12 via Surfdog Records, is pure, straight-ahead rockabilly that features 12 new, original songs. Along with his trademark twang and fretboard fire, Setzer is backed by three musicians who are among the best at their craft — Mark Winchester (bass), Kevin McKendree (piano) and Noah Levy (drums).

The album, which was recorded in Nashville, was produced by Peter Collins, who handled those same duties for Setzer’s Vavoom! and The Dirty Boogie. The result is a cross-mix of early Stray Cats and Setzer’s solo records, with an emphasis on a fresh, modern rockabilly sound.

Setzer first captured the hearts of guitarists everywhere as founder and frontman of Stray Cats, whose signature songs “Rock This Town,” “(She’s) Sexy & 17” and “Stray Cat Strut” introduced the sound and attitude of rockabilly to a new generation of rock fans in the early Eighties.

I recently spoke to Setzer about Rockabilly Riot: All Original, his early days, guitars and what the future holds for rockabilly music.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of Rockabilly Riot?

To me, it sounds a little bit like a mixture of an album I had called Ignition and the first Stray Cats album. The production of it is straight forward, but it really is songs first. Then I make them into rockabilly just by me playing them.

You can read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Brian Setzer by Clicking Here!

‘1000hp’: Guitarist Tony Rombola Talks New Godsmack Album and Side Project

Godsmack (Photo: Michael Chapman)

Godsmack (Photo: Michael Chapman)

Multi-platinum hard rock heroes Godsmack are revving their engines for their highly anticipated sixth studio album, 1000hp The album, which is set for an August 5 release, is the follow-up to 2010’s The Oracle, which debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200.

Co-produced by Sully Erna along with Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Evanescence), 1000hp returns the band to their Boston-based roots. Even the album’s title track pays homage to the band’s journey from playing tiny clubs to packed arenas worldwide.

With a new-found thrashed-up “punk” energy, 1000hp is really about going back to basics. It’s old-school Godsmack, but with a new kind of twist.

Coinciding with the release of 1000hp,  Godsmack will also headline this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival, which kicks off August 14. Godsmack is Sully Erna (vocals), Tony Rombola (guitar), Robbie Merrill (bass) and Shannon Larkin (drums).

I recently spoke with Rombola about 1000hp, touring and his blues-based side project, the Blue Cross Band.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe the sound of 1000hp?

We wanted it to be straight forward and simple. I think that was the theme. There are elements of punk in some of the grooves that Sully brought in, and even in the selection of some of the riffs that I had as well. A lot of it is simpler, with some different feels.

What’s the songwriting process for a Godsmack album?

For me, it all starts with riffs Shannon and I put together and arrange into a demo. We’ll bring in a bunch of the material and Sully will go through it to get vibe for the record. He has great vision. He also brought in riffs for the songs “Something Different” and “Life Is Good”. Sully’s the one who picks the direction for the album and works on the lyrics. I’m more focused on the music. For me, it’s all about the guitar.

Read the rest of my
gw_logoWith Tony Rombola by Clicking Here!

 

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