Red Circuit Reveals Third Album Under Way And That ProgPower USA XII Is Their First US Show
At ProgPower USA XII, Germany’s Red Circuit made a hell of a debut on American soil with a powerful set on the second official day. During the event, Red Circuit keyboardist Markus Teske doubled as a sound engineer as well, contributing to what some attendees have called the “best-sounding” ProgPower festival yet. I have a hunch that the addition of drummer Michael Stein to the Red Circuit lineup also added to the punch.
Previously, Markus has recorded acts such as Symphony X, Vanden Plas, Saga, The Flower Kings, Mob Rules, and more. Somehow, Markus had a few minutes free to sit with me for an interview, in which he answers questions about the first two albums and the upcoming third, as well as discusses some audio topics and weigh in on his musical interests and music studies.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): How many times has Red Circuit played in the US?
Markus Teske: First time! This is our first time. It’s a great festival. It’s the most important festival for our style – for progressive metal – and so we are very glad to be here.
FS: It’s the only big festival the US has. Most other festivals are maybe one day, but this festival is three days in total.
MT: Are you really sure? The reputation is so amazing. ProgPower USA is amazing.
FS: Have you guys played ProgPower Europe?
MT: No. I’ve been in touch with those guys a few times, but the story is not finished.
FS: Are you planning to tour the US in the near future?
MT: If possible, absolutely. I mean, it’s like every musician wants to present his music on the US stage. This is the absolute aim or goal.
FS: You guys have released two albums, “Trance State” and “Homeland.” Is the third one in the works at the moment or is it on hold?
MT: We are working on it! I would say maybe one or two weeks continuing working in the studio on vocal lines, lyrics, and stuff like that, and then we’re done and ready to record. Most of the stuff is musically written. It just takes a little more time.
FS: So who does most of the songwriting?
MT: Most of the songwriting is done by me. Because if I don’t do it, nobody else would do it!
FS: So how long was the writing and recording process for the first two?
MT: We never work on it in a row. It is like “Okay, I have spare time of a few days,” and then I can continue working on it. So it’s hard to say, but for “Homeland,” it was far faster than for “Trance State” because the first album a band is doing, you write songs and do demos for years and years. For Homeland, it was done within nine months or something.
If you have the chance and have the time, it’s like writing and composing, trying to be creative… It’s like if you’ve done something else for a time, trying to get back in is a little bit tricky, but once you get into it back again, you’re rolling.
FS: Nice. Now, for the audio nerds, since you are a studio engineer as well, what is your favorite gear to use in the studio?
MT: My apple computer! (laughs) For sure. I’m a big fan of all this Universal Audio stuff. This is absolutely great. I’m using, which is for Europe, quite unusual, Digital Performer by Motu and also Motu hardware. Media interfaces, audio interfaces, I’m a huge fan of all the Motu stuff. Just last year, one of my dreams came true that I’m mixing just within the computer.
I did that in a different way for years, but now it’s like I have a touch-screen. Most of the stuff was done with the mouse and the keyboard, so that wasn’t a big step for me. Everybody might think that it’s hard just doing the whole thing with a mouse, and it’s a little bit tricky, but it depends. If you’re used to it, it’s no problem. I don’t miss it. The only thing that I have is I bought a Big Knob by Mackie. It’s for controlling the volume of the system.
FS: Nice and simple. The less complicated, the fewer problems you’ll have.
MT: And also, the thing is, mixing within the computer… When you’re working with clients and you finalize a mix, everything is done, so far so good blah blah blah, let’s say two weeks later, they think “Okay, the whole thing is great, but it needs a minor change like this and that.” So, the total recall we’ve had for years, but if it’s just one file to load to have the total recall, it is much more comfortable and changes like this are done far easier than they used to be.
FS: Right, you don’t have to set up the console again and re-route the channels…
MT: Sometimes you change the basic routing of this for the outboard gear, etc. Universal Audio makes this possible! I’m a big fan of this company.
FS: What are some of your favorite progressive bands, since we’re at ProgPower?
MT: Definitely Vanden Plas. I love these guys and I love their music, first of all. Symphony X. Symphony X is, for me, a band that has to be mentioned when I’m faced with a question like this.
FS: Are there any bands that you’re excited to see here at the festival?
MT: Therion. Yeah. I never saw them, and I’m curious about them. Evergrey was also a fantastic experience.
FS: Have you ever seen them before in a different setting?
MT: No. Evergrey, was for me the first time and Therion will be the first time.
FS: Same here, for me, for both. So how long have you been playing music and have you had lessons or were you self-taught?
MT: I started playing piano at the age of five since my mother is a classical piano teacher. There was a time when I was probably twelve, thirteen, fourteen, something like that, but playing in bands, at seventeen I had my first band. When I was twenty, it was all about creating songs. I never played in a cover band. Probably, I will, let’s say in a few decades.
Ever since then, the whole thing is about trying to be creative, trying to make a song, trying to make some great lyrics. It’s a learning process.
FS: Would you say that Red Circuit focuses more on the album or the live show?
MT: Both. I think you cannot divide it. One thing causes the other. I’m repeating myself, I know, but creating something which you feel when you recorded it, which is probably very very great… To present this on stage, it’s like the same thing doubled up! So I think, both, in the end.
FS: What do you think about the sound of albums nowadays, compared to ten to fifteen years ago?
MT: Basically, I would say that audio has blown up massively. One disadvantage is, in my eyes, the all-over volume on CDs. Everybody wants it so loud. Compressing like hell, limiting, all these kinds of things gets it louder, of course, but it’s not getting better. From a certain point on, it’s just getting worse, in my eyes. That’s the only thing when I compare it.
Good music is not only about good sound. A good sound, in combination with good music, everybody knows this, it sums up into a great production – into a great piece of audio and a great song. I would say that quality has grown up, massively.
FS: Since illegal downloading was largely responsible for the rise in popularity in the US of international heavy metal bands that hadn’t had a US distribution, what is your take on internet piracy?
MT: What’s my point of view? How to say? First of all, it’s quite shitty that the ones who are creative and are performing will get their ideas stolen in a way because everybody considers this as a normal thing today, that music is for free. It is a lot of work and it is not for free. If somebody comes up with a great idea on how to deal with the whole thing, then fine, but otherwise, I would expect we’d have to deal with it.
If something dies, something else will go up, in a way. We’ll see how it continues.
FS: I was talking to the guys in Evergrey about the Swedish phenomenon Spotify.
MT: What did they say?
FS: They said they actually wanted to invent a virus version of Spotify called “Mutify,” which allows them to have control to where, if someone plays an illegally obtained song on their computer, their house will explode. (laughs)
MT: Great idea! May I steal this idea?
FS: You’ll have to ask Tom [Englund, guitarist] about that! I know that’s an especially huge thing, especially for everyone in my generation and younger, 20s or middle 20s, they’re getting music for free or close to it, which is sad. However, in a way, a lot of these bands got known because of that.
MT: Advantages and disadvantages go hand in hand. How old are you?
MT: You could be my son! (laughs) No, not really. Well, you could be!
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