Hailing from South America, guitarist Rafael Moreira made the jump to the States in an effort to pursue his dream as a musician — and he has done just that since. After auditioning for CBS’ Rockstar, Moreira landed the gig as lead guitar player for the house band. Since the show’s disbandment, Moreira has made his rounds on prime-time television, appearing on the likes of NBC’s The Voice and American Idol. Aside from the TV sphere, he has toured with artists including Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Backstreet Boys, New Kids On The Block, and KISS’ Paul Stanley. Moreira currently fronts the heavy rock trio, Magnetico, and has an acoustic project in the works.
We had the opportunity to speak with Moreira about life as a television musician, his relationship with Paul Stanley, and what Ernie Ball gear he relies on the most…
Q & A with Rafael Moreira
EB: How did you get your start in the music industry?
RM: Once I started playing with Christina [Aguilera], things started opening up for me. I started getting calls to do work with different artists like Cisco, then I auditioned for P!nk. I got that and I did it for five years until I landed my first TV gig on CBS’s Rockstar. I did two seasons as the lead guitar player with the house band. After that I landed a gig with Paul Stanley and I’ve been playing on and off with him for 12 years.
EB: You’ve been able to pivot between the entertainment and TV sphere, as well as performing live on tour. Which side of the industry do you prefer more?
RM: I love playing live… to a live audience rather than a studio one. But there’s something about playing on a TV show where you only have one take. Nobody’s going to go back for you and give you another try. It’s all about the execution. You gotta do it and walk off. A live television situation is a little bit of pressure, it’s all improvised, which is really fun for me. But I find fun it all of it.
EB: What sparked your interest in playing guitar?
RM: I was six years old and I saw KISS on TV. I was thinking, ‘Who is this?’ They had weird stuff on their face and were playing rock music… I loved it. Also, The Rolling Stones.
EB: Aside from The Rolling Stones and KISS, who else do you draw inspiration from?
RM: I love Jeff [Beck]… all of the British rock music from Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. I love more modern music like Thundercat. I don’t know… it’s a huge spectrum and I love everything that has interesting music in it. I’m very open-minded.
EB: What was the pivotal moment that really made you want to pursue music as a career?
RM: I always knew I was going to play guitar. I dropped out of college when I was 17 or 18 and moved to [Los Angeles] to go to school for music. It wasn’t easy to convince [my parents] but it was what I wanted. I never even thought about anything else.
EB: What Ernie Ball gear do you rely on the most?
RM: Earthwood medium light for my acoustics, they’re really bright. If I want it to last awhile, I’ll go with the Everlast. If I’m recording on my electric guitar, then I’ll use the M-Steel Regular. But I’ll use the Paradigm if I go on tour and I need it to last a little longer.
EB: It’s certainly been a journey. What has been your favorite memory so far?
RM: I have so many! Being on the Rockstar show was amazing. When I did Rockstar here in the US, the reaction from Americans and being recognized by the American audience was amazing. I really enjoyed that. Playing at Wembley, or when [Steve] Lukather came backstage at Rockstar to give me a hug. That was surreal.
EB: Any upcoming projects we can look out for?
RM: I have this acoustic thing I’m excited about… I’m also doing Paul Stanley’s new album, which is fun. Then I’m going to do the KISS Kruise again in October.
EB: Any advice you would give to those looking to break into the industry?
RM: Do whatever you feel like, whatever feeds your soul. No holding back at all. I would tell everybody to go for broke.
Header photo courtesy of Sergio Buss.