Angra – Kiko Loureiro (guitar)

Brazilians ANGRA combine a unique blend of traditional power metal with progressive, classical and ethnic elements with a South American flavor to create intricate and majestic compositions.

The band formed in 1991 and has persevered through bad management dealings and lineup changes, including losing their original singer Andre Matos. His replacement, Eduardo Falaschi, has fit in well with the ANGRA sound for the past nine years. Along with guitarists Rafael Bittencourt and Kiko Loureiro, bassist Felipe Andreoli and their previous drummer Ricardo Confessori, the band has never sounded tighter. The friendship within the band is at its best too, and you can easily tell the musicianship on their newest masterpiece, Aqua, is top-notch.

Guitar virtuoso Kiko Loureiro, took time out from the band’s rehearsals for their upcoming Aqua tour to talk about the theme behind the record, the classic ANGRA formula and his joy of composing and playing music.

Read SMN’s review of Aqua

Tell me about the new album. What made you base the theme around water and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest?

We were always searching for a concept album, we love doing concept albums. Everyone in the band is a composer, and we think having a concept behind the albums always help keep the compositions united. We heard about this play from Shakespeare, The Tempest. It’s a very interesting play and we thought it was really suitable to the Angra style. It’s the last one from Shakespeare, just after he wrote this play he died. We thought it would be very interesting to write the lyrics based on this play.

So it’s a true concept album?

Yes. It’s mostly based on the play. The first song talks about the Tempest and the last song, it’s referring to the last act. It’s really based on the play and we used some extra expressions. For the ones who know the play will know that we really based it on the concept.

You were involved in the songwriting process, lyrically and musically. How satisfied are you about the finished product now that the album has been released?

Angra has been through many situations in our personal lives. I think the music is great because the band feels very united. We have a great relationship. We are very happy. The musicianship is better than ever, and it reflects on the songs. This is an album that has lots of variety and it’s something we really like. It has different atmospheres, ballads, progressive, rock and ethnic stuff. So we achieved all this on this album.

Why did it take four years from your last album to complete Aqua?

The previous album we recorded it in 2006, and then in 2007, we did the tour. This album we had a problem with the manager. Everyone of us was really stressed from the tour and the album. So in 2008, we didn’t play at all as Angra. Then last year, we got back together and did a tour in Brazil with Sepultura. We never played with Sepultura in our whole lives. Angra and Sepultura are the most famous Brazilian bands. We did the tour together in 2009, then at the end of 2009, we started composing Aqua, the new album. So we had about a one year or one year and a half break.

Angra’s sound has evolved with each album while still maintaining its glorious power metal and neoclassical and progressive elements. But how would you describe this effort compared to your previous albums?

This (one) has a little bit of every album (on it). You have a little bit of this power metal that we started at the beginning of the ’90s. More of European-orientated power metal. This classical thing that we like as well. But I think we got better with the ethic stuff, Brazilian percussion and influences. I think now a days we know better how to play these influences. And the progressive, I think as composers, we get better songs and melodies. It’s easier now after all these years, it feels easier to compose a song, even if the song’s complicated or has many parts. I think that’s the main difference of the past, how easy and natural we can compose today.

You can sense a lot of enthusiasm and passion on this album, it’s not much different musically from your last three albums, but I think it has a lot more heavier elements. Was this a conscience effort?

I think we just composed and tried to experiment and use the elements that we think is a trademark of the band. Using the elements in a way that’s not repeating ourselves, otherwise it would be very boring. But it wasn’t conscience actually. I don’t feel if it’s heavier or not, or faster or mellow, we just composed and we just came up with the songs.

Speaking of Sepultura, with Angra also from Sao Paulo, I’m sure you were very aware of Sepultura in the day. Angra’s style is no where near the thrash metal style they played, but did they inspire you to become a better musician/band by making it big coming out of the same area?

Sepultura gave to us, and all the bands in Brazil … they showed that it was possible to go abroad and be successful in other countries and to make the Brazilian music. If you remember the Roots album, with all the dejiros and the artwork and percussion. So I think Sepultura were good for bands, believing that a band from Brazil can make it outside and also bringing the Brazilian element to a song can be something interesting. To be inspired and represent metal from this country. When I think of American metal, it is different from the German and Swedish metal. So the idea that Sepultura gave us, is we can have a Brazilian kind of metal.

You have released many guitar instructional videos. How fun is doing these videos and what do you like about doing them?

When I started as a teenager, I was always teaching friends and teaching guitar to people. And I’ve always liked this. And I studied guitar a lot. I like sharing the knowledge I learned throughout the years practicing the guitar. Doing the videos is fun, but it’s a big stress because you’re in front of the camera all day.

What do you enjoy the most about playing and what do you try and bring to the sound of the band?

I think playing is first of all, having fun. Playing guitar and practicing is just the way of life. When I have time I’ll have a guitar on hand and I’ll grab an electric or acoustic. Just developing your technique, your musicality and composition. Then you share with the other ones from the band, and you share your love with them and learn because they are doing the same thing at home practicing and composing. Then you share with a friend. It’s a way of life and having fun. It’s a profession mixed with a hobby. I try to bring my style and point of view of music that I like to the band and I try to bring that to the people.

You’re also an accomplished solo artist. How fun is doing your solo stuff like your Fullblast album compared with the band aspect? Does it give you more freedom as a composer and musician?

You have two sides of doing solo stuff. I have done three solo albums. Some are like Angra but some are not, some are more jazzy, fusion, Brazilian stuff. You are free to do whatever you want, but also you don’t have your friends or the people from the band to tell you if it’s good or not. So when you do a song by yourself, you do it all by yourself. You’re never sure if it sounds good or not. When you do a song to bring to the band, you have the other people all the time to say if it’s cool or not so cool. So you feel more secure about what you’re doing. As a solo artist you have nobody to help you and then you feel alone So there’s two sides: Feeling alone and the feeling to do whatever you want to do. It’s the good and the bad. But it’s fun anyway. I love guitar and I want to show other ways of playing the guitar that’s why I do the solo stuff in between the Angra stuff.

By Kelley Simms

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