Guitarist Kiko Loureiro's exit from Megadeth's lineup came as a surprise to some, and an even bigger surprise when he extended his absence with Teemu Mäntysaari continuing his run with the band, but in a new interview with Guitar World, Loureiro opens up, offering more insight into his career move and what the future holds in store for him.

Speaking about the decision to step away, Loureiro recalls, "It started when I booked a trip home to Brazil. The last time I'd been was in 2019, before the pandemic; I got to a point where I said, 'I need to visit my family,' so I booked a trip for the Thanksgiving period in 2023 because Megadeth never does anything around that time."

He adds, "When you're young, not married and have no kids, the mindset is, 'The more concerts, the better.' But my daughter is 12 now, and I want to spend time with her. I also want to be out there playing. When the Megadeth thing happened for me in 2015, I had a young daughter and twins who were newborns. I was always struggling with knowing I needed to be touring, but also wanted to be home with my kids and my wife. So the feeling of, 'Should I be out doing this rock star thing while my kids are at home?' kept coming up. And the more moments and important dates I missed, the harder it was."

The call to be closer to home hit a little more in 2023, with things coming to a head during the band's summer tour. Loureiro says, "I went to Dave [Mustaine] in June, saying, 'This is too much. I'm not feeling like I'm in the right place or mood to give 100 percent.' It was complicated for me to say because I wanted to play, but I knew I needed to be at home. And, of course, Dave was not expecting it. We had just done a show in Florida with the Misfits, and it was right after that show that I talked to Dave. And then Megadeth management was there, and I let them know I could not do the September gigs. I offered to help find a replacement and do what was needed to help Megadeth be ready to go."

As we now know, Loureiro had a hand in picking Mäntysaari while he returned home and the chemistry with the new guitarist has gone quite well. The guitarist said his initial proposal was to miss the September dates while getting more home time. "I had some situations with my kids and had to go to the doctor, and I felt like I wanted to be home," said the guitarist. "And I get it — Megadeth must go on, right? Being able to pick and choose where and when I play is not going to be a thing. I mean, I guess it could be, but that's not the way it turned out. Maybe they felt like, 'Well, Kiko might come out on the next tour and say the same thing,' which I understand. So I told them, 'I understand if you guys feel that I'm unreliable,' They kept asking me, 'Are you sure?' Ultimately, I had to take control because I knew I needed and wanted to be home. People who don't have kids won't understand, while if you do, you will."

READ MORE: Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Issues Statement on Kiko Loureiro's Absence

Kiko's Reflections on Megadeth

With some time now since his last performance with the group, Loureiro has had some moments of reflection. He tells Guitar World, “I’m so proud of what we did. Dystopia was a Grammy winner, and The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! was nominated. I wrote several songs with Dave, played amazing places, did huge tours, and I still have a great relationship with the guys. I can look back and be proud of what I did with Megadeth, and I will one day be proud to catch up with them, wearing a Megadeth shirt!”

As for his departure, he explains, “It’s all positive vibes, man. I’ve been in situations in the past where it wasn’t, and I’ve learned that when you dedicate your life to creating music with someone else, you don’t want bad feelings. I don’t want weird feelings connected to music. When you’ve make music with someone, you don’t want to disconnect over stupid fights. So while I didn’t want to be in Megadeth anymore, I’m still proud. And I’m glad about that – as everyone knows that it hasn’t always been that way when it comes to Megadeth.”

He concludes, "Nine years was okay, and I did well. It could have been more – but I needed to be out for personal reasons. I had the freedom to choose if I wanted to stay or go. I made my choice. No regrets.”

What 'Freedom' Means to Kiko Loureiro

In a previous podcast appearance, the guitarist cited "freedom" as one of the reasons he left Megadeth. During his appearance on the Amplifica podcast, ehe explained that he was someone who "needs freedom, and that would have been the reason he went to the United States in the early 2000s, and at that moment, having freedom after nine years with Megadeth was important."

He elaborated, “Now, due to circumstances in my life, I have taken the liberty of choosing not to be in Megadeth. Because it's my option. Because freedom is having the choice between two viable options, that is freedom.”

In the Guitar World interview, the guitarist realized that not everyone may have taken that comment in the way that he meant it.

“It came about through a long conversation about my feelings about my life – it wasn’t about wanting to be free from Megadeth in a bad way. I know that many people aren’t able to quit their jobs and choose to be unemployed, but I had two viable options: to be in Megadeth or not. I chose my personal life,” says the guitarist.

“I don’t want to regret my choices about my kids in 10 years because I wasn’t there. The type of freedom I was talking about was deciding what you want to do with your life. Not specifically freedom from Megadeth," he later added, then noting, “I totally understand that having the freedom to decide like this is a luxury. It’s not like in the past, when I had to worry about my next meal or bill; I could decide. It took courage to decide to be with my kids, but I knew they needed me to do that.”

What's Next For Kiko Loureiro?

The guitarist admitted that while he's not fully sure of what comes next, he does have some music already in the works and will likely release a solo record at some point.

"Even before I talked to Dave I had around 11 new songs done. By May, I had the drums recorded, and in June I did the rhythm guitars for what’s going to be an instrumental solo guitar album. I now need to finish the solos and melodies, and I finally have time," said the guitarist. “This is the fun part for me – I can be looser as I don’t have to worry about touring. I had to keep postponing recording it, so I’m very excited to get going on it this year.”

He adds, “I finally get to be like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. I love to play in bands, but I never had the time or courage to sit back and be like those guys. This is the first time I say, ‘Well, here’s Kiko.’ Not Kiko from Angra or Kiko from Megadeth – just Kiko, and nothing extra after that.”

The guitarist also said he's open to other opportunities and that "the door will stay open" with Megadeth. "I don't know the future, and it will take time," says the guitarist about his next move beyond releasing his solo music.

“I do know that I want to be home more, and that I love to play guitar. I also love to learn and am excited to have more time to do that. I want to play other instruments and work on composing – but like I said, that all depends on me. If someone else asks me to do something, I’m not looking for that. I am not searching for another band; I want to play guitar,” concludes Loureiro.

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