KIKO LOUREIRO On MEGADETH's Writing Process: DAVE MUSTAINE 'Has A Very Artistic Vision Of Things'September 25, 2022
In a new interview with Andrew DiCecco of Vinyl Writer Music, MEGADETH's Brazilian-born guitarist Kiko Loureiro spoke about his increased number of songwriting credits on the band's latest album, "The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!", compared to the first MEGADETH album he appeared on, 2016's "Dystopia". He said: "I think doing 'Dystopia', I was very new in the band — I was like five days new in the band. I met Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH leader], and then, like a week later, I was there at the studio learning the parts and open for suggestions. So it was already a thing for me to have some credits, some collaborations, with Dave on 'Dystopia'. And now, of course, after so many years of understanding MEGADETH better, not only Dave and getting the confidence from Dave but also understanding the fans, the band, the catalog, and playing the songs… As a metal fan, I know MEGADETH, but, of course, after four or five years of playing so many different countries and seeing fans' faces and their reaction, playing the songs from the '80s and the '90s, you understand the band better. So when you bring ideas, you know, 'Okay, this will fit. This is MEGADETH. I know what I'm bringing is still something completely related to MEGADETH.' I think Dave just felt like, 'I'm in a safe place with those guys.' So, I was always bringing ideas and giving suggestions — not only in the ideas that I brought but also his songs and his guitar stuff; I would say something. No fear, you know? I think creating a creative environment is like feeling that you're in a safe place because you might give an idea that's not good, that sucks, but it has to be okay to receive a 'No, this doesn't fit.' It has to be okay, and then try again and propose something else. And then vice versa — the person who is receiving that idea has to be open to be, like, 'Okay…' Maybe the person doesn't like the idea that much but can say, 'Okay, let's try.' So, it's both ways, right? We have to be open to receiving a no, and the other person has to be open to trying the idea, even if, at first sight, the idea is not that great.
"I think I understand Dave," he continued. "Sometimes — it's hard to explain — he has a very artistic vision of things. Bringing elements that you have no idea where he is coming from; [it] can be colors, can be an old movie, can be the soundtrack of something that I don't know, an old TV show — things like that. And then, when you listen to the theme of the old TV show, it has no correlation to what the riff is presenting. But there's something there that reminds him. So you have to give time to understand what the person is thinking. Sometimes it's just a feeling of, 'I want something like that intro of that old TV show from the '60s.' Then it's, like, 'Let's hear that. Let's go there.' Then, I think, because I have my past music experience with other composers or me writing my songs, I know that. So, I kind of understand where he is coming from, so I think Dave feels safe saying those crazy ideas out loud. Then it's a creative process, and everybody is free to bring their own ideas. Then I think Dirk [Verbeuren, drums] felt, 'You know what? I can bring some ideas, too, because that's a cool environment.' So, during the process, [Dirk] just brought some riffs — because he plays guitar — and then Dave helped him get what he wants because he has certain guitar techniques. So, then we play, and it's, like, 'Oh, we can refine your idea.' The same goes when we suggest a drumbeat, and then Dirk goes and plays something like one hundred times better, but coming from what we are suggesting. So, that's a mutual collaboration."
Last fall, Kiko said in a YouTube video that Mustaine does not use music theory "at all" to compose MEGADETH's songs. "You have to understand that people are different," he explained. "A creator can play something and just imagine the mountain, the sea, the hell, a war — imagine things, those sounds. He can relate that riff to a machine gun or can relate that riff to a bomb exploding, in the case of MEGADETH. But he can play a chord and imagine the mountain, the sun, sailing — whatever. So some people are like this. Some other people, they need the theory — they need the names, they need the things organized to make sense. So that's why some people really relate to the theory and love theory. I love theory. Some other people don't feel they need theory to compose, to create, because it's all about imagination. And, of course, the basic stuff they might know — 'Oh, this is a major chord,' 'This is a minor chord,' 'This is the name of the notes, like E, A, D,' but in the end, it really doesn't matter as well."
In a previous video, Kiko was asked if he has learned anything from playing with Mustaine for the past seven years, Kiko said: "Oh, yes, man. Oh, yes. I don't know if you're asking about guitar stuff, but I think my answer would go more, like… I learned watching him strive to be unstoppable, to be strong, to search for excellence, to demand excellence from everyone, and everyone delivers excellence, delivers their best. Leadership… What else? I don't know… Fight for your case. Fight for your music. Fight for your band. Fight for your fans. Being an artist, being creative [and] combining all those things — being professional and at the same time creative and at the same time having fun while you're doing the stuff. Yeah, a lot of experience in the music business as well — in the music business in general, in the show biz.
"And regarding guitar as well, the thrash metal essence," he continued. "All the rhythms — mainly the rhythms and then the attitude and the force, the vibe, the drive, the intensity. So, all those things while you're playing. Mixing the technical things with a lot of energy — like metal with punk with attitude. I think I'm a way better rhythm player because of just hanging and playing with Dave for all those years — since 2015. Also composing — he composes in a very different way than I do. And I think watching and learning from the way he does as well."
In an October 2015 interview with The Irish Sun, Mustaine was full of praise for Loureiro, saying: "A lot of times guitarists won't know how to add to something — they'll put something in there that's kind of like tits on a bull, unnecessary. Kiko came in and immediately started making some really good suggestions that we applied [to 'Dystopia']. When he first came in, I knew he had the ability but I didn't know if the songwriting technique and talent was going to show up this early on."
He continued: "What was great about the suggestions that Kiko made was that they weren't just guitar ones — he made a bass part in a song called 'Me Hate You' [that made it] really come along. In fact, that was one of the songs where he made a huge melodic contribution in the chorus and I said, 'Man, this sounds like something.'"
According to Dave, Kiko possesses all the elements that are required to become part of a legendary metal act like MEGADETH.
"For me — really simply stated — if you want to be a musician, that's one thing. If you want to be a rock star, that's another," Mustaine said. "But if you want to be legendary, you need to have three very important components: you need to have ability, you need to have appearance, and you need to have attitude. Without all three of those things, it's kind of like trying to have a three-legged milk stool without three legs — it's just not going to work."
He continued: "I found with Kiko, his ability was astronomical, with his attitude he was very confident in what he did — there's a difference between confidence and arrogance. In appearance, he was very classy and very subdued on the street, but up on stage he totally takes command of his performance. When he came up to Nashville to visit with me, I didn't even have him play for the majority of the day he was there. I just wanted to hang out with him and it's been a really long time since I hung out with a guitar player before I hired him. Usually I would listen to how he played and then I'd go, 'Okay, we'll work it out.' I didn't want to do that again. Hanging out with Kiko, and having lunch and kicking back and talking music was all I needed — I knew he was the right guy."
"The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!" sold 48,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in its first week of release to land at position No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. It marked MEGADETH's eighth top 10-charting album. Of "The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!"'s 48,000 units earned for the week, album sales comprise 45,000, SEA units comprise 3,000 and TEA units comprise a negligible sum.
MEGADETH's previous top 10 entries on the Billboard 200 were "Countdown to Extinction" (No. 2, 1992),"Youthanasia" (No. 4, 1994),"Cryptic Writings" (No. 10, 1997),"United Abominations" (No. 8, 2007),"Endgame" (No. 9, 2009),"Super Collider" (No. 6, 2013) and "Dystopia" (No. 3, 2016).
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