WHITESNAKE mainman David Coverdale has spoken out about the band’s new guitarist Joel Hoekstra (NIGHT RANGER), who was recruited earlier in the year following the departure of Doug Aldrich.
“Joel came with six shiny stars of approval in every aspect of his life, but Jesus Christ, what a player!” Coverdale told VH1 Classic “That Metal Show” co-host Eddie Trunk‘s podcast, “Eddie Trunk Podcast”. “Yeah, he’s incendiary… an amazing musician… truly, truly inspiring… and a beautiful guy too.”
He continued: “We pretty much… He was the only guy… We didn’t audition him. We just threw him in, we jammed [together] and [told him], ‘You want it? You’re in.’ It was that simple. We just had to keep it quiet out of respect for his colleagues in his former band [NIGHT RANGER], and I respected that ’till the point where it was just starting to get out, and I said, ‘You know, you want some front page on this, J., we’ve gotta pull the trigger.'”
WHITESNAKE has just completed work on its new studio album for a tentative late March/early April 2015 release via Frontiers. In addition, the band has shot videos for four songs from the CD, which will be promoted by a world tour, “most likely starting in the U.S., probably in May/June next year,” according to Coverdale.
Speaking about the direction of the new WHITESNAKE material, Joel told Myglobalmind webzine: “The only thing that I can tell you is that it is really cool. It’s great, straight-ahead rock and roll. Blues-inspired rock that you have known and grown to love coming from WHITESNAKE.”
He continued: “We are not going to hit anybody with a formula change and move to smooth jazz.
“Working with David so far has been great; he is just an unbelievably great guy. We get along great, and he is so funny. He puts me at ease and I feel like he just wants me to be myself as a player.
“I am certainly interested in paying homage to all the players that have been through the camp and do my very best to represent historically what made WHITESNAKE so great as well.
“Honestly, a lot of that is still ahead of me. It was really jump immediately into doing this album, so a whole lot of that is just me doing what I do.
“Before the tour next year, when it comes to covering other people’s material, is when I will do a lot of shedding on people’s styles, if you will.”
Asked why he chose to leave NIGHT RANGER to join WHITESNAKE, Joel said: “It doesn’t have as much to do with me wanting to leave NIGHT RANGER as much as it was me wanting to take the WHITESNAKE gig.
“I was texting with Doug Aldrich, who is a friend of mine, the night before the news was leaked. He didn’t say anything specific to me, but he just said that there was news coming. The next day I woke up, I checked my Twitter and people were suggesting me for a potential replacement for something. I went, ‘For what?’ I clicked on it and it was for Doug in WHITESNAKE. I thought, “Oh, man, that would be actually a really good fit and be kind of cool.’ So just to see what the deal was, I sent off an e-mail to put feelers out and see if there was going to be auditions and anything like that. I did hear back — eventually. [Laughs] Not at first. Then, I think, a couple of well-respected people had put my name forward to David Coverdale. We ended up getting together in late May, just meeting and a little bit of auditioning, so to speak. A little bit of playing on some pre-production. That went fantastic and we got along great, which is always important. Really, at that point he just said, ‘Why don’t you come back and play on the album in August?’ At that point, I just thought, ‘Well, we have got this penciled in, more or less, and we will see how it goes.’ I just kept things quiet and when I went back out in August, I really started to get enthused playing on the album. I got along great with David and Reb [Beach, guitar] working on that. Reb and I got some great guitar work done together.”
Hoekstra appeared on two NIGHT RANGER studio efforts, 2011’s “Somewhere In California” and the recently released “High Road”, as well as on 2012’s 30th-anniversary acoustic concert set “24 Strings & A Drummer”.
Aldrich left WHITESNAKE on May 7, explaining in a statement that he “had several recording and live commitments, so [he] needed a more flexible schedule to conclude these before going full force as normal.” He added: “Unfortunately, my schedule was not workable.”
Aldrich played on the last two WHITESNAKE studio albums, 2008’s “Good To Be Bad” and 2011’s “Forevermore”, and appeared on several live releases, including last year’s “Made In Japan” and “Made In Britain/The World Records”.