Kiko Loureiro

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: KIKO LOUREIRO.

Photo: Ifusha Kalina

Name: Kiko Loureiro
Bands: Megadeth
Link(s): https://kikoloureiro.com/https://www.youtube.com/user/kikoloureiroofficial

You began playing the guitar already at 11. How did you first discover your interest in music and was guitar your first and only alternative?
I had a normal interest in music as any kid – listening to songs on the radio, taking percussion and flute lessons at school and such. You know, normal kids’ stuff. But when I was 11, my sister took lessons on classical guitar and the teacher would come to our house. Then, she gave up and said it was too boring, but because my mother had already paid the guy for the entire month, she suggested that I’d try. I ended up continuing. At the age of 14, I was already into metal and rock, much because the library at my school had vinyls from the likes of Deep Purple, Scorpions, Pink Floyd – all sorts of stuff. In 1985 there was a Rock in Rio festival in Brazil, and I was watching it on TV. Ozzy, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, AC/DC – so many great bands played this festival and this type of music became a big part of my life.

After many years and many successful albums with Angra, you joined Megadeth in 2015. What was this like and what was your relationship to the band’s music before joining?
I started in Angra in 1991 when I was 19. We had a pretty successful career over 20 something years, toured the world, did many albums, got a gold record for sales in Japan etc. Then in 2015 I got the invitation to join Megadeth. Like all the “Big 4” thrash metal bands, Megadeth was part of my teenage years. I remember going to Rock in Rio as a fan in 1991 to see Megadeth, Sepultura, Queensrÿche and Judas Priest. I also remember seeing Megadeth on other festivals during the 1990s, so I knew the big songs. But I also have to mention all the guitar players from the era, like Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker and especially Marty Friedman. Learning the solos by Marty Friedman nowadays takes me back to that period in time.

“Dystopia” with Megadeth also earned you your first Grammy Award. What was that like?
I would have never expected to get a Grammy, so that was amazing. I’m actually looking at it right now and it’s an amazing trophy. It was a great day going there and I didn’t know what to expect, because Megadeth was nominated eleven times (I think) before the band won. I always make the joke that it was because I was there, haha… But it is a great album and I’m thankful to all the guys and the whole experience of doing the music with them and actually writing some songs. So yeah, a great moment in my career.

You currently reside in Finland – literally halfway around the world from your roots in Brazil. How do you like the Nordic climate and way of life?
Before moving, I had been coming here since 2010 or something. My kids were born in Finland, I’ve spent entire summers here and when my daughter was born I spent more than a year in the country. Some stuff is of course very different, but I’m used to it now – like the food, the sauna, etc. Actually, the whole Nordic way of life is amazing. But of course, I do miss Brazil, family and friends. The darkness is a little weird, so I’m trying to get used to to it. The freezing cold is another thing. Just to go our and see the frozen sea is surreal for me.

Since 2005 through to 2020, you have released five solo albums and just began work on your upcoming one. That’s quite impressive considering your other endeavors.
Being in a band, it took me a long time to be courageous enough and have the guts to write 100% of the songs and be the only one in focus. But being a very practical person, I wanted to fill the gaps in between the album cycles, so I after I had done my first solo album I kind of realized that I liked the process and just kept going. I actually recorded the “Sound of Innocence” album while I was here in Finland in 2012. After that, there was a big gap because of another Angra album and the fact that I joined Megadeth – on top of which we had twins. So, with three kids in a different country, tours and everything going on, I collected ideas but I wasn’t able to record until 2019. When “Open Source” finally came out, it won the ’Best Guitar Album of 2020’ category in Guitar World, which was amazing. I am just now starting up the process again of putting my ideas together. Using a lot of Toontrack stuff in the process!

Kiko Loureiro “EDM (E-Dependent Mind)

In 2005, you also launched your YouTube channel. Since then, you have amassed a pretty impressive following.
You know, I come from the ‘90s scene when you had to get played on maybe a radio show, be interviewed in a magazine or doing promo trips in order to get publicity. Now you can have your own channel where you can also talk to your fans, answer questions, show what’s going on backstage, do some guitar teaching etc. So, it’s fun to have this direct contact, and also, when I upload songs or playthroughs, I get that instant feedback.

Out of everything that comes with being in a band and being a musician – writing, recording, jamming, touring, traveling (the list goes on)…what is your favorite part?
I like every part of it, but I think the writing process is like food, you know. To me, it’s like I need to write and connect with my musicality – it’s like meditation. Every time I do it, I feel great. It’s like doing sports – sometimes painful at the moment, but after you’re done you feel great. Then, same thing with recording – it can be exhausting mentally because so much work and effort goes into it, but it’s so rewarding when it’s all done. Touring is amazing also, because of that feeling of going on stage. It can be a guitar clinic for 50 people or a massive festival infront of 30,000 people – both are great even though they’re completely different. The traveling can be boring sometimes, but if you really step back and think about it… I mean, I know and have been to so many countries and cities, I have friends all over the world, so many stories and so many memories. I couldn’t give up any part of what I do.

You have had a long career, won awards, toured the world and played the biggest festivals. Looking back on this journey that started back in the early ‘90s, are there any specific moments or milestones that stand out for you personally?
I think the milestones for me are the albums I’ve done, because they define a moment. You know, when I listen to the first Angra album from 1993, I remember vividly when we recorded in Germany back when I was 21 years old, what it was like traveling and discovering Europe for the first time – and the songs kind of represent that moment in time. And also the first shows. You know – in a time with no internet – you’re at home, but suddenly you’re in a club and there are 600 people there to see you. I also remember a show in Paris with Angra in 1999. Bruce Dickinson, who wasn’t in Iron Maiden then, flew from London to sing two songs with us, which was a great moment for us. Another thing was the first show with Megadeth. It was a big festival in Quebec with like 70,000 people or something and I’d only had three days of rehearsal. Big pressure to do a great show. First time in Japan, experiencing the midnight sun in Sweden for the first time – you know, the small things that matter only to me stand out. The Grammy was another moment for sure, and also the “Dystopia” album with Megadeth and spending one and a half months in the studio recording it will be in my memories forever.

What does your personal writing spot or home studio look like in terms of gear?
Quite simple, not a lot of stuff. I have a some computers, about 15-20 guitars, some nice acoustic guitars and keyboards plus of course loads of plugins. I still have some gear in the US and Brazil.

On that note, what’s your process like when composing for an upcoming record? Do you set aside dedicated “on the job” time to write or does it happen when it happens?
I always like to write on piano or acoustic guitar, that’s how a lot of ideas come together. Other times I just like to put on a nice groove from one of your MIDI packs and just start jamming on top. The drums inspire me a lot. It’s not always very focused, but every time I play something I like I record it – on the phone or any device that’s around. Then I try to organize those audio bits and use them to create songs from. Collecting and going through ideas like this is actually what I’ve been doing for the past ten days writing for my new album. So yes, in a way it’s like a job…but it’s something I like to do…

Do you still practice your instrument on a regular basis? What does your routine like?
If I haven’t practiced in a while, I feel like I need to o back to the instrument and do scales, and yes, I have my routine which I do before shows or sessions. After so many years of playing guitar, though, I don’t feel the need to play faster or get more technical – rather develop all the sides of my musicality. It’s more about music than technique to me.

Having done shows now for 20+ years, there must have been some crazy moments. What are some of the most odd stage moments so far in your career?
Actually, I’ve never fallen on stage or something like that, but just now on the last tour I got this weird cramp in my leg during the first song of the set (“Hangar 18”). I couldn’t move and I had to lay down. Dave Mustaine came over to ask if we should to stop the show, but I kept going and tried my best without anyone noticing. Another weird moment was when we were playing a sold out show with Angra in South America. Apparently, something happened outside the venue, because the police came in and there was teargas everywhere. We all stood up there on stage with our eyes running…

Finally, which Toontrack products do you use and how do they help you in your creative process?
Actually, when I came to Finland back in 2011 or so, my wife already had Superior Drummer installed and that’s how I discovered it. It’s also how I got to know about Dirk Verbeuren – because of Toontrack! Around this time, I was making my solo album “Sounds of Innocence.” Although I used live drums on the record (played by Virgil Donati), Superior Drummer and the Toontrack MIDI packs were really helpful. Actually, on a lot of the simpler songs on the album, Virgil’s drums were based on the stuff that I had done with Superior Drummer. As for composing, jamming with a drummer is something I’ve always liked. I remember back in the 1990s with Angra when just the drummer and I would go into the rehearsal room and jam to come up with song ideas. With Toontrack, it’s kind of the same vibe. I recommend to everyone that if you’re stuck – start a groove and just play on top for 10 or 20 minutes or however long you want. Then, come back the next day and find the spots you like and start a song from those ideas.

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