Guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who, as a member of Brazilian power metal juggernaut Angra, has earned his claim to fame and has nothing more to prove. His technical prowess and exciting playing have garnered him fans and admirers from across the globe.
We recently tracked down Loureiro to discuss his fourth solo album, Sounds of Innocence, which came out June 18 via Norcal Studios.
GUITAR WORLD: This is your fourth album. What differentiates it from your previous releases, and do you consider it your best work yet?
I believe so. Not because the songs are better, but because this is a great moment in my life. I love all my work, and they really represent me in each moment or stage of my life. The composition period for this album, looking back on it now, was a great period because I was a few months into being a new father during the demo and album recordings.
This was a great inspiration, especially after 20 years. It is such a long time, and it can be dangerous to start playing only past ideas and having problems coming up with something new that pleases me and everyone else.
The moment, and consequently, the album, brought out the experience and yet, the innocence. It is the result of the dilemma of experience versus innocence. Experience meaning the good and bad. The good side of when you know what you have to do and the bad side when you have that feeling that you’ve done it already, or you know someone else has. The experience takes you out of the “Let’s conquer the world with my music," when you lose the faith in the industry and all that.
Now the innocence takes you back to the playful moments of creating art, without worrying whether or not someone will like it. I’m very happy with this album because I believe I found a good balance between my experience and my innocence. That's also the reason behind the name of the album.
What songs from Sounds of Innocence are you particularly proud of and why?
"Reflective" represents the innocence. It is a very simple song. The melody, the structure, etc. It has very few challenging things to play, but the simplicity of it is the key. It was a song that came naturally, and it just feels so good to play and listen. I also love "Mãe D'Água" (It means "mother of water," a native Brazilian’s river mermaid) where it's all about Brazilian groove (Ijexá) mixed with a beautiful melody. I believe I found a good balance again with "Mãe D’Água." It's a very relaxing song. "The Hymn" was kind of a tribute to Jeff Beck. I'm quite proud of the composition and grooves I got for that tune.
You have a lot of fans out there who say things like, "Kiko's skills are unreal." What advice do you have for players who want to reach your skill level?
I believe there are many important factors, but here are the most important things to do:
• Be constantly motivated by references and be self-motivated: Your guitar heroes, your teacher, books, movies, DVDs, shows, master classes, friends who play better than you, etc. Surround yourself with that and never give up.
• Discipline: Being motivated is the first step. Naturally the next step is to be excited and play every day. This is when you should get yourself organized to get the best of your practice time.
• Power of habits: As Aristotle said, “We are what we constantly do. Excellence it is not an act but a habit." So when you're motivated, disciplined and focused, all of this becomes a part of your life and turns into a habit you can carry on for your life. Naturally then, your skill set will get constantly sharpened.
Did you experience any epiphanies in your younger days — practice- or learning-wise — that helped your playing in a huge way? Also, were there any instructors or DVDs that helped you a great deal?
I admit I'm not as disciplined as I was during my teenage years, and I believe knowing what I was going to practice beforehand every day was really important to me. Figuring out what you’re already good at and what you need to develop, and building a strategy for practicing for the week or the month. Aligned with that, I had a great teacher in Sao Paulo called Mozart Mello, and all my VHS tapes and DVDs helped me with all of my rock-based techniques. The first instructional videos from Frank Gambale, Paul Gilbert, Robben Ford, etc.
I was also fortunate to grow up in Brazil, where I listening to a lot of our rich music. I incorporated that to my rock skills in order to find a flavor for my own playing, find my own style, in a way.
What can you tell us about your "Conflicted" music video?
It is always hard to choose just one song for a music video, especially from an album with so many different styles. I believe “Conflicted” is a song with great energy for a video, and I believe because of that, guitarists and non-guitarists would enjoy it. It has many prog moments, and it's a colorful tune with many different moments and atmospheres.
In a recent interview, Andre Matos said Angra should call it quits following their split with Edu Falaschi. What do you think of that?
This reminds me of when Prince said he would quit music because of the lack of regulation, piracy, downloads, etc. Prince said it was a mess, like the gold rush. Sometimes we get frustrated with what we do, and we have the tendency to over-react when we go through hard times like this. The point is, we all love what we do and we try our best to make things happen in any scenario. Angra has its legacy in the Brazilian metal scene. We have a tour coming up in August, and lots of fans want to listen to the songs, so we think, why not? Being on stage is the best moment for an artist.
Would you like to see Angra reunite with Matos?
Fans would love to see us together, for sure, but I feel it's more important to share the good stage moments with those who are a part of it now. I respect the ones who want to leave the past in the past. I believe legacy is very important and that celebrating it is sometimes necessary.
Dave Reffett is a Berklee College of Music graduate and has worked with some of the best players in rock and metal. He is an instructor at (and the head of) the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal department at The Real School of Music in the metro Boston area. He also is a master clinician and a highly-in-demand private guitar teacher. He teaches lessons in person and worldwide via Skype. As an artist and performer, he is working on some soon-to-be revealed high-profile projects with A-list players in rock and metal. In 2009, he formed the musical project Shredding The Envelope and released the critically acclaimed album The Call Of The Flames. Dave also is an official artist endorsee for companies like Seymour Duncan, Gibson, Eminence and Esoterik Guitars, which in 2011 released a Dave Reffett signature model guitar, the DR-1. Dave has worked in the past at Sanctuary Records and Virgin Records, where he promoting acts like The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, Korn and Meat Loaf.