Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza Interview16th March 2016
A couple of weeks ago at Exodus’s show in Aberdeen I was fortunate enough to catch up with the legendary Steve “Zetro” Souza for a chat before the gig started. Once I got over the fact that I was sitting on Exodus’s tour bus talking shit with one of the most legendary men in thrash metal, we finally got down to ask a few questions! Have a read below!
All About The Rock: Hey man, how’s it going? Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to me tonight!
Zetro: It’s all good man, I’m doing well! So bands don’t often come to Aberdeen, huh? What kind of scale is usually normal?
AATR: Yeah, Aberdeen is not really a popular spot for gigs. The last big band I saw here was Iron Maiden, on the Final Frontier tour.
Zetro: And that would be an arena show, right? So how many people go see Iron Maiden here? Are we talking 10,000? 15,000? 20,000? Even more?
AATR: Well the arena only had about an 8,000 capacity, and it wasn’t sold out, so maybe five or six thousand!
Zetro: Five or six thousand huh? Interesting! ‘Cause you know when they play in fucking Chile, it’s like 80,000 people will come out to see them! We were just in South America like two weeks ago and it is really crazy! I like to get the logistics of where I sit with other bands, you know what I mean? So if Iron Maiden are only playing to five or six thousand in Aberdeen, that’s like playing a fucking club show for them you know. It’s interesting!
AATR: Definitely! Exodus was in the UK for a couple of one off shows last year, right?
Zetro: We did! We played Manchester, and we played in London, at the Underworld.
AATR: And you yourself have obviously not played in Scotland since what, 2005?
Zetro: Fuck, 2004 man! That was for Tempo of the Damned! And I think we only did Glasgow then, we definitely didn’t do Aberdeen. But it was at the Cathouse, which we’re playing tomorrow. So yeah it’s been a while! But that was the whole idea, we have a really great agent now, Tom, and he’s got a good vision. He knows what we are, he knows what we’re about, you know what I mean? We’re actually doing 17 shows throughout the UK haha!
AATR: I know, it’s a massive tour you guys are doing!
Zetro: Yeah man! I mean big bands don’t even do 17 shows in the fucking UK haha! We’re cool with it though man, you know my thing is we’re all speaking the same language, as soon as I get out there and start the fucking “blah blah blah”, it’s all “blah blah blah” you know hahaha! It’s not quite so easy with the crowd peaking Portuguese or Spanish, you know? At least when I come to the UK I can get the crowd a bit more engaged. Well, for the most part… Nobody fucking understands the Welsh! You guys can’t even understand the Welsh! It’s hilarious!
AATR: Well, we all try our best with the Welsh! So how does it feel for you to be back in Scotland after so long?
Zetro: When I saw the itinerary, I was like wow, two shows? Great! I’m looking forward to it, cause Scottish fans can get a little bit rowdy! I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna get real fucking rowdy tonight! We have a good balance of songs tonight, obviously we’ve got some from Blood In Blood Out, but we’ve also god a good deal from Bonded [By Blood] in there, we hit Pleasures [of the Flesh], we hit Fabulous [Disaster], we hit Tempo [of the Damned], I even think we hit one or two of Rob Dukes’ as well. We’re going all over the map tonight!
AATR: Oh nice one! I’m really looking forward to hearing everything from Bonded! And how does it feel for you to be singing the songs Exodus wrote while you weren’t in the band?
Zetro: Well from the beginning, we didn’t even have Pleasures when I fucking started playing Paul [Baloff]’s song haha! But man I fucking love Rob’s songs! I mean Gary [Holt] wrote the majority of them, but one of my favourites that Rob [Dukes] wrote the lyrics for is The Ballad of Leonard and Charles!
AATR: Yeah man, that’s such an awesome song!
Zetro: Dude, that song is so killer! And we do play it sometimes, we’ll change it up a bit with Children of a Worthless God, Iconoclasm, Good Riddance. I know a few, I think seven or eight, and we’ll throw a different one in every other night. I think tonight it’s actually Children of a Worthless God. But I’m not one of those singers that’s like “Ain’t gonna touch that, not my era!” I feel that although I wasn’t there during those years doesn’t mean the bands legacy doesn’t exist from that time you know? It totally exists, and people love those songs! I think, and people will say its sacrilege, but I think Iron Maiden’s heaviest era was with Blaze [Bayley]! I mean those records are really pretty heavy, but they will never play any of those songs, you know? And it’s too bad! I love the fact that Bruce [Dickinson] will still play the Paul Di’anno tracks though. ‘Cause you know Rob [Halford] isn’t playing anything that Ripper did, but what was the first album he did with them, Jugulator?
AATR: I think so, yeah!
Zetro: That was heavy man! But I understand, Rob [Halford] has so much classic stuff! But if you look at Exodus, I have sang on the most albums, Paul sang on the most classic one, the one that signifies Exodus, and Rob [Dukes] picked up where I couldn’t be there. But that band was still going very, very strong during that time, and when I returned I didn’t want to be like “fuck that.” I wasn’t going to be saying “I’m not playing this, I’m not playing that, okay I’ll play Bonded but only three tracks!” We’re playing like six from Bonded tonight hahaha!
AATR: Fuck, that’s going to be insane!
Zetro: We really pull it out tonight with the set man, by the end you’re just gonna be like, “Fuck!” I think we tired Newcastle out last night, we kicked their ass!
AATR: Hahaha! Excellent, well we’ll keep the energy that little bit higher for you tonight! So from Tempo up until Blood In Blood Out, you were obviously away doing other things. But apart from Rick [Hunolt] having left as well, and Lee [Altus] stepping in, it was the exactly the same line-up as Tempo – what was it like to be writing music with those guys again, especially following up an album as classic as Tempo?
Zetro: Well you know, they had it all written already. The only thing I wrote for it was when I was doing my vocal tracks, and we wrote it in like 45 minutes, was Body Harvest! So it’s about the selling of body parts on the black market, they’ll slip you something in a hostel in fucking Germany or some shit, and you wake up the next morning with a note saying “Dude get to a doctor, we’ve removed your spleen. You can buy it back though!” So we ripped on that together, but otherwise everything was pretty much written! But I know how to write with Gary Holt, I’ve been writing music with Gary since I was 22, on this tour I’ll be 52 you know? So it’s a long fucking time!
AATR: And that leads us nicely to the big question everyone wants to know – it’s been about 18 months, give or take, since Blood In Blood Out dropped, are there any plans that you can hint at for a new album?
Zetro: Dude, we’re touring in the UK three times this year.
AATR: Fuck, well I guess that rules out this year haha!
Zetro: Hahaha! We go home from this tour April 1st, then we come back for the festival season from July 25th to September 1st, and then we’re planning to be back here in October or November on a tour I can’t talk about. But everyone is gonna fucking shit when they hear about it! It’s funny you say that though, cause Gary was talking to Tom [Hunting] and Slayer are off in like May, June time as well, so we’re gonna try and get together and start throwing some songs together! I don’t wonna put a timeline out there, because it takes all five of us to make it happen, but I would say sometime in 2017 you’ll have your hands on some new Exodus, even if it’s nearer the end of 2017! We aim to try and stay on a two to three year scale.
AATR: Totally man, something to look forward to though!
Zetro: Yeah, so by October 2017 it’ll be three years since Blood In Blood Out, but we’re not even in October 2016 yet! So we have some time to get it sorted, but I do look at shit like that, I’m anal about it. I don’t know how Rob carried himself with this shit, I do know how Paul carried himself with it though and I carry myself a lot more professionally when it comes to what we have to do what needs to be done, and what my responsibility is. I mean, I’m ready to write lyrics all the time, they start rolling the riffs my man and I’ll be on it!
AATR: Very cool to hear! And you kept yourself pretty busy between leaving and rejoining Exodus, right?
Zetro: Fuck yeah man! At the end of the night they just have to sign Exodus records, I have to fucking sign Exodus, Tenet, Dublin Death Patrol, Hatriot and fucking everything else hahaha! But you know what? I’m a metal head. This is what I want to do. This is what I fucking play. I don’t go off and give you some shitty Steve Souza solo record where you’re going “Well… I guess the third song is kinda cool…” I’ve never given you a record like that, everything I’ve been a part of has been metal of some sort! Dublin Death Patrol was the thrashiest thing I’ve done, and Tenet was just fucking wow!
AATR: Dude, that Tenet album is fucking insane! I love it!
Zetro: I had to listen to that album four times a day, every day, for six weeks before I could get in and record the vocals cause I really needed to get myself into what was going on there! It’s something totally different from what Exodus, DDP, or even Hatriot does. I mean Hatriot is more the chunky, grinding guitars like Exodus, and my son is the singer now!
AATR: I was actually about to ask that, what was it like to be in a band with your sons?
Zetro: Well Cody’s the singer now, when I go home April 1st I want to get everything sorted for the new album, and get a couple of tracks ready to give away cause it’s been a while. With my transition into Exodus, Cody’s had to learn how to sing and you know he sounds just like me!
AATR: Oh does he?
Zetro: Yeah man, he sounds fucking great! You can go onto their Facebook page to check out his vocals on the tracks. It was so funny, what happened was Cody and Nick fired me! Gary didn’t even know! My mum passed away two weeks ago, and we had a party at my dad’s house and Gary asks me when I’m gonna play with Hatriot again, before Lee and Tom shout that they fired me! We came off tour, and Nick calls me and says he needs to speak me. I mean what you need to understand is I’ve played 187 shows with Exodus since June 2014, so I just had no time! But they come to me with this bit of paper printed out, a list of goals they wanted to achieve without being in my shadow, and if you’ve heard their stuff it’s really good!
AATR: Yeah man, the Hatriot stuff is awesome!
Zetro: Go jump onto Facebook, somewhere on their page you can find the tracks with Cody’s vocals! We took a song from Heroes of Origin, and a song from Dawn of the New Centurion, and we erased my vocals and put his vocals on to see what happens! And Chuck Billy has a management company, he was thinking of managing them, and gets a fucking copy of the songs before me! Fucking Chuck Billy hears their songs before I do! And Cody absolutely nails it, so I called him up and told him he has my blessing. I actually got asked the other day if I was gonna guest on it, but you know I don’t want to do that, I want him to do his own thing, I want it to stand by itself. I don’t want people to only be interested ‘cause it has my name on it, you know? I’m just so busy with Exodus, I don’t have the time to do that as well. So yeah, I’ve been busy! I just love metal, that’s why I do this shit. I don’t do it because some people think I’m a rock legend, I couldn’t give a fuck about that, you’ll see it tonight man! Have you seen Exodus play with me before dude?
AATR: I’ve never seen Exodus before at all man, sadly!
Zetro: Oh God, dude we’re gonna kick you in the fucking teeth tonight hahaha! It’s gonna be a fucking onslaught, I guarantee it!
AATR: I’ll fucking bet! So although it is very, very early days in the tour, how have you found the crowds?
Zetro: Both shows have been great! It took Birmingham a minute to get going but it was good, last night it was fucking Friday night in Newcastle, the fucking drugs were no doubt flowing! They were having a great time, pits and walls of death and shit! We’re sold out tonight, so it’s gonna be pretty violent!
AATR: Well that’s what we’re hoping for!
Zetro: That’s what we’re gonna give yah! We’ve stuffed so many of you fuckers in there, it’s gonna be crazy. Unfortunately Gary isn’t here, but we’ve got Kragen here, he plays with Lee in Heathen and it’s fucking note perfect, I swear you close your eyes you’d think it was Gary! But with Gary out with Slayer, what are we gonna do? Stay at home? Fuck that, that’s not the mentality we have. And everyone’s having fun, the fans are still loving it and we fucking love it, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. I mean I’ve done other shit, I was a union carpenter for 20 years, if you think Hatriot, Tenet and Dublin Death Patrol paid my fucking bills your wrong, and royalties pay shit. Especially in the ‘90s when grunge with no lead guitar came in, so I took some time out and raised by kids, coached soccer and did all that shit. But when the millennium turned and Chuck got sick, we did the Thrash of the Titans with all the Bay Area bands getting together, and that’s what made us think maybe we could do it again. And we were one of the first to get going again with Tempo, then Testament came in, so did Megadeth, Anthrax got back with Joey.
AATR: Speaking of which, have you heard the new Anthrax album?
Zetro: I haven’t! Is it any good?
AATR: Dude. It is fucking awesome!
Zetro: Ahhh I’ll need to check that out!
AATR: We mentioned Tenet and Dublin Death Patrol a little while ago, do you think those are projects you’ll ever revisit?
Zetro: Nah, neither me nor Chuck have time for it! We didn’t even want to do a second Dublin Death Patrol record! We brought some of the guys that don’t tour over to Europe to play some shows with it, and they got stung by the rockstar bug! They’re like “Dude we can do this! Let’s write another record, come one Zet!” So I got duped into writing all the lyrics with the second one. And with Tenet, they had an album full of stuff and just asked me to sing on it, I mean we never played a show. But I don’t think I’ll ever do anything more with that. But I know Hatriot will be doing a new record, and I can guarantee Exodus will be doing a new record, I can promise you those!
AATR: Fair enough man! Just about done now, but have you got any messages for the Exodus fans out there?
Zetro: Thanks for 31 years of love and support, and if you’re a new fan, we love you. And welcome to the pit!
AATR: Awesome! Thanks so much for catching up with me tonight!
Zetro: No, thank you dude! I’ll see you in the pit!