Interview: Mark Protze

Dan McAvinchey: Mark, when you started playing guitar, who were you listening to that influenced your playing and love for the instrument?

Mark Protze: I started to play the guitar at the age of 12. At this time I was inspired by bands like Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Europe, etc. which were played on MTV and looked so cool! I wanted to look cool too! But the main reason I started to play the guitar was Randy Rhoads. He had the biggest influence on me and my playing. When I first listened to him I couldn't believe what I'd heard. The first two Ozzy Osbourne records "Blizzard Of Ozz" and "Diary Of A Madman" are just briliant. Later I was influenced a lot by Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

Dan McAvinchey: Was your latest album "Reflections" self-released?

Mark Protze: My latest three albums "Guitar Compilation" (2014), "Adventure Wonderland" and "Reflections" (2015) are all self-released. At this time the music business has gone through a big change! It makes no difference if you release all your music by yourself. First you have to invest some of your own money to make the production and the CDs. But when you sell them you'll get 100% of the money, and it won't go to a record label or Spotify. There are a lot of platforms to promote your music like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud etc.

Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?

Mark Protze: My older records, which were released in 2004 ("Revenge Of ..." and "Opus No.1", are neoclassical metal shredding stuff influenced by players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, Joe Stump, and Vinnie Moore. My latest three releases are orchestral film music stuff, with some great guitar on it. Some of my tracks sounds like film music for the movie "Lord Of The Rings". Back in 2004 I had the vision how my music should sound but in 2004 the samples weren't so good for orchestral stuff. Nowadays I have the possibilty to compose all my music in my studio and can write some crazy stuff right at point! It's like the idea Yngwie had with his album "Concerto Suite for Orchestra and Electric Guitar", but my music is not so much influenced by classical vibes. My pure guitar tracks on the records sounds like some cool Satriani stuff.

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Dan McAvinchey: How did you write the songs for your most recent album? Was it a collaborative approach, or did you work alone?

Mark Protze: I composed all the songs by myself and played all the instruments on it. First I have to decide in which style I will compose (ballad, rock, orchestral). Then I start to arrange the whole song. Sometimes I start with a great melody and then comes the chords, bass and keys. Other times I start with a great guitar riff and improvise the whole solo over it. When I compose orchestral songs it's just magic! All the instruments are played on my E-Piano and I arrange the whole song on it. But the most important thing is when you compose, "When it's sounds good in your ears, then it's good!" You have to find your own trademark and style. My biggest goal is to let emotion arrive to the listener.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about the gear you use to get your sound.

Mark Protze: I have a lot of guitars in my studio: Ibanez "John Petrucci", Ibanez "Joe Satriani", Kramer "Satchel Pacer Vintage", Kramer "Bulls Eye 84", two "Yngwie Malmsteen Signatures Red & White", Peavy "Eddie Van Halen", Yamaha "Silent Guitar", Tanglewood acoustic guitar, EVH "Van Halen", Nic Huber "Dolphin Series", Dean "Dime", Career, Yamaha CG 100-A, Ibanez 5-String Sound Gear bass.

For live I use the "Engl Straight" Series and Fender "700 RocPro".

In my studio I record with "Logic X" and "Guitar Rig" from "Native Instruments" which sounds great. For all the orchestral stuff I use Native Instruments and "Orchestral Essentials 1 & 2" for all the choirs, violins etc.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your albums and music career?

Mark Protze: Yes. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and my
home page.

Dan McAvinchey: From a publicity and promotion standpoint, what is working for you at the moment?

Mark Protze: The best promotion at this time is YouTube to reach a lot of people! Most people at this time are a lttle bit lazy! They sit in front of their computer and will listen to music and watch videos, but not to go on a concert.

Dan McAvinchey: Why do you think a particular segment of music fans prefer instrumental music over traditional vocal oriented music?

Mark Protze: Most people who hear only instrumetal music are even also musicians or guitar players. They need some inspiration for their own playing. It's important for young players to have some heroes, and to grow as a player and get better.

Dan McAvinchey: You probably have broad musical tastes. Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

Mark Protze: I listen to all kind of music when it's good! If it's done honestly! From funk, jazz and classical to rock and metal.

Dan McAvinchey: What are some of your plans for the future?

Mark Protze: At this time I'm working on some music for different film projects which will be released in the future. When I will reach a lot of people with my music I will be happy - people who are interested in my music feel free to contact me.

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Mark Protze is a triple threat - guitar player, composer and producer - from Germany, who has just released his latest album "Reflections". Featured on the CD are his trademark guitar riffs alongside and some cool fantasy film music. Fans of Yngwie Malmsteen, Randy Rhoads, Vinnie Moore, and Joe Satriani will probably identify quickly with Protze's tracks.

Dan McAvinchey recently conducted this interview with Protze to talk release strategy, social media and future plans.