It’s no secret that Joel Hoekstra is one the hardest-working musicians you’re ever likely to meet. The Night Ranger guitarist, who just celebrated the release of the band’s new album, High Road, also performs regularly as part of Broadway’s Rock of Ages and tours every fall with Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Hoekstra also has unveiled a brand new project, VHF, which stands for the initials of band mates Todd “Vinny” Vinciguerra (drums), Joel Hoekstra (guitars) and bassist Tony Franklin (the Firm, Kenny Wayne Shepherd).
Co-produced by Joe Floyd and Tommy Kessler (Blondie, Rock of Ages), VHF’s debut release, Very High Frequency, which was released June 20, isn’t a shred record by any means. It’s full of trippy, groove-inspired rock that’s been built from the ground up.
I recently caught up with Hoekstra and got an update on Night Ranger, VHF and the secret to mastering his two-handed technique.
GUITAR WORLD: High Road reminds me a lot of the classic Night Ranger sound. Was the intent going into this album to pay homage to those early records?
We just wanted to be ourselves and were able to find a nice balance of sounding like the classic Night Ranger while giving ourselves the leeway to express some our influences. We’re still a rock and roll band who likes to create new music and give our fans something they’ll appreciate. It’s an honor for me to be a part of it.
What else can you tell me about the new album?
There’s really something for everyone on this record, and a lot of it starts with Jack [Blades], Brad [Gillis] and Kelly [Keagy] together. “Knock Knock Never Stop” is really a good example of that. It’s got that signature Brad Gillis riff in it. “Rollin On” is another song that started out with a bluesy-sounding riff. I think you can hear a little bit of Brad’s Hendrix influence on that one. Eric Levy and I are involved as well. Eric came in with the ballad “Only For You Only” and I came up with the riffs for “I’m Coming Home.”
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