Metal fans rejoiced last week at the return of That Metal Show, the only show on television about all things hard rock and heavy metal. This season as an added bonus we’re going behind the stacks with some of your favorite musicians and TMS guests and finding out how they got started playing their instruments, who their favorite players are and what equipment they’re using. We caught up with this week’s musical guest Joel Hoekstra who’s known for his work with Night Ranger and Trans-Siberian Orchestra as well as being the house guitarist for the hair metal musical Rock Of Ages to find out about his multiple rigs and his love of Gibson guitars. Check back each week to find out more of your favorite shredder’s live rigs and don’t forget to tune in to VH1 Classic every Saturday night at 11/10C for new episodes of That Metal Show!
What was your first guitar?
I actually was forced briefly to start on my stepmother’s acoustic guitar much to my disappointment. I really wanted an electric. I wanted to be (AC/DC guitarist) Angus Young. Eventually I persuaded my Mom into buying me a red Electra Westone guitar, which I guess in my mind resembled the body shape of a (Gibson) SG but it had many more curves than an SG (laughter). It was very ‘80s, we’ll just leave it at that.
Who was the first guitarist that made you want to play guitar?
That’s definitely Angus Young. My parents are classical musicians so they had me playing cello when I was three and piano from the time I was seven and I was never really that thrilled with either of them. I couldn’t wait to quit. I always felt like it was torture. And then I heard AC/DC and I basically just wanted to be Angus Young. And that just changed everything and music then really clicked for me.
Are you still as influenced by him now as you were back then?
I am in different ways. I look up to him as probably the best showman to ever play in rock n’ roll. AC/DC goes on world tours and plays around 200 shows a year and I’ve never seen even a 5-second clip of him taking it easy on stage. I think that’s unbelievable given all the flights and all the travel. So I look up to him in a different way these days, not as much the rock star vibe but the unbelievable legacy he’s left in terms of endurance, as a terrific rock showman and as a songwriter. Back In Black is still the best hard rock album ever.
What was your first good piece of equipment?
I guess good is relative. At some point I upgraded from the Westone to a Kramer Baretta which was probably only slightly better (laughter). I think as far as my first amp I owned one of those Gallien Krueger 250MLs that everybody was playing back in the day. It had two tiny 6” speakers and a chorus and a reverb button. It was horrible (laughter). I was plugging that into a Fender 4×12 and then for distortion I had a Roland GP-8 processor. That actually might have been the first good thing I owned but it probably sounded horrendous. It probably sounded like a bee. (laughter). I went all the wrong route with tone in the early days but it was an era when all that stuff was popular. But thank God, I eventually graduated.