1. I have to say this on the get go, what an honor. So many people will name Exodus as a band and Fabulous Disaster as the cd that influenced them. What was your first musical memory that made you want to pursuit music?
I always loved hard rock and early heavy metal. My dad was an old school biker and he had all the hardest music of the time playing around the garage when he would work on his bikes. I would say it officially became my calling when I saw AC/DC play live at a festival here in California called “Day On The Green.” I was a teenager and very much into rock music at that time, and when I saw Bon Scott command that huge crowd I knew I wanted to do the same.
2. When you were with Exodus how did you feel about playing Paul Baloff’s stuff live? Also, now you are no longer with them how do you feel about other singers like Rob Dukes singing your stuff live?
I personally loved playing the Baloff era stuff. At the time that I joined there was just ‘Bonded By Blood’ out there and we were working in material from what would become ‘Pleasures Of The Flesh.’ Honestly, they were big shoes to fill and a lot of the fans didn’t really accept me until a year into it, but I did my best to do those old songs justice every time I sang them. I think any time there is a vocalist change in a band they should do their best to keep true to the original sound that the fans know. In a lot of ways I had a similar snarl to my voice that was consistent with what Paul did. The same thing goes for Rob singing my stuff. Of course it isn’t the same, but he is doing his best to do the songs justice and that works for me. I don’t have a problem with him singing my stuff. Some of the fans might not like it, but the way I see it Rob is the current vocalist for Exodus and he is going to interpret the songs the way he feels them.
3. In my review, I said this is the best comeback record since Accept’s Blood of the Nations. Do you view this cd as your comeback?
Yes, I definitely see it as my comeback CD, the same way some people felt “Tempo Of The Damned” was my comeback with Exodus. Since 2004 I have done projects like Dublin Death Patrol and Tenet, but they were just that – they were projects. Hatriot is my first true to form thrash metal band since I left Exodus. I tell people that “Heroes Of Origin” is my follow up to the “Tempo” record, only angrier and heavier. I believe it is the heaviest record I have done in my entire career, and that’s saying a lot if you look at my discography.
4. Do you think the metal community respects what you have done in your career? I mean, let’s be honest bands like Exodus, Metal Church, Overkill and the list can go on and on people seem to forget about them in favor of the so called big 4.
I think I have a good name in the metal world, and I credit that to staying true to my core sound. I never did a techno record or some dumb shit like some of these guys do. I am a thrash metal singer and that’s what I give the fans every time. When you hear and band like Motorhead or Slayer you know what you are going to get from them, and that’s the approach I take when making an album. As for the Big 4, I am very cool with that whole concept, and the reason why is this: heavy metal is not made for the masses. It is an underground art form and I feel that’s where the strongest bands thrive. I personally know all the guys in the Big 4 bands and they are great. I love them all. They have found a way to cross over into a more mainstream status and that’s great. More power to them. Bands like Exodus and Overkill have a cult following that will follow them until the end of time. That’s the kind of fan base I think best represents heavy metal. It’s not one of these fans that liked “Enter Sandman” and that’s the extent of it. Our fans live and breathe heavy metal.
5. Let’s talk about Dublin Death Patrol, do you think that this should have been a bigger deal to the metal community? Will we get a third record?
I think it could have been a bigger deal if we had worked at touring with the band and really pushed it out there. The thing with DDP is we were doing that band as an escape from the pressures of being in a bigger band. It was just for fun and to have a chance to jam with our old buddies from back in the day. We really didn’t set out for it to be a big band. That would have defeated the purpose. I think it has run its course at this point in time. I never say never, but I am not planning on a third record. Chuck is way too busy with Testament and now I plan on pushing Hatriot to the next level, and that’s going to require all my energy to be focused on one thing. There will be no more side projects for me. At least not for a while.
6. Hatriot has been playing Exodus stuff live as well as this record, do you still get excited about playing those classics? Will you be busting out My Riot or any other DDP songs as well?
A lot of it depends on how long of a set time we have. If we are doing a headlining show then I am prepared to throw a few songs in from my past. We have songs from all of my old bands and projects worked up and ready to go if needed. I do enjoy playing the old classics and they will forever be a part of who I am, so it makes sense to play them live and make the fans happy.
7. Without naming Hatriot, because everyone names their latest release. What do you think is the best cd you ever did, and what do you think is the worst? Explain.
I’d say the best record I ever did would be a tie between “Fabulous Disaster” and “Tempo Of The Damned.” I think they are both fan favorites because the material is just so strong. The other records have their moments but these two are the strongest in my opinion. I don’t think there’s a bad record that I have done. They all have their place in my career history and were necessary for whatever reason. There is no “worst” record so to speak, but my least favorite would probably be the second Dublin Death Patrol cd because our hearts weren’t into that project at that point in time, and the label took their sweet time releasing it. When it was released the packaging was very skimpy and there wasn’t even a booklet to look at. I was disappointed that the record company didn’t even put pictures or lyrics in there. What’s the point in buying the full package if there’s nothing to look at?
8. Zetro you are at a cd signing for the new Hatriot cd, (these things never go well sir, I am warning you) and one of your biggest fans comes up to you, you know how us fans get, and he after he gets off his knees from praising you, whips out an illegal burn of your new cd and asks you to sign it. What would you do?
Of course I would sign it. I have signed my share of promo copies and bootlegs over the years, so that would be no different. Sometimes the fans just don’t have the cash to buy the official product, and while I’d rather them buy it, I won’t turn a fan away if they want an autograph. I never have and I won’t start now.
9. Do you think if CDs like Reign in Blood and Master of Puppets came out this year and not in the 80’s they would still have the impact they had then? Do you think today’s metal fan truly understands what real metal music is?
I don’t think there will ever be albums with that kind of impact ever again. When those records came out there wasn’t an overload of bands and instant access to product like there is today. It’s a totally different world. The funny thing is those two albums are blueprints for heavy metal as we know it today, and I’m not sure that the young metal generation knows what kind of groundbreaking material those records were in their time. Metal kids in the current generation are sort of desensitized to the heaviness of those classic records just because they hear so much metal now. Back then it was a much bigger deal.
10. This is cd association. I will name a band and a cd, and you just say whatever you want…Zetro, do not worry these people do not check out our site, so say what you want…
a. Metallica-St Anger
Ugggghhh. Can I just say ugghhhh?
b. Exodus- Exhibit B: The Human Condition
A very heavy record. It doesn’t have the classic sound of the early stuff and the songs are not memorable like the early stuff, but these are my boys and I support them.
c. Mordred-Fool’s Game
This is a very heavy and underrated record. Mordred sort of fell through the cracks and should have been much bigger.
d. Slayer-World Painted Blood
This is an amazing Slayer album. It falls in the shadows of their more classic stuff, but metal fans should seek this record it. It is fucking heavy!
e. Sacred Reich-American Way
I always loved Sacred Reich. They were a lot more simple and straight forward than what we were doing in Exodus during that time, but the songs are very memorable and they fucking rock!
f. Pantera-Vulgar Display of Power
This is the album that changed the playing field for metal in the 1990’s. It is definitely a classic. I am proud to say that Exodus gave Pantera their first big national tour. They were the one band that grunge music didn’t pull under during that time period. I love Pantera.
11. In your career, you have toured with a who’s who of bands and musicians. Who has been the best to you, and who has been the worst?
Honestly, they were all very good to us. We always carried ourselves as professionals and never gave any of the other bands a hard time. It’s hard enough staying out on the road for a long period of time without added drama and bullshit. All the bands treated us well, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be Black Sabbath. Touring with my heroes was a great time and I am blessed to say I got to do it.
12. Do you think Combat Records, more importantly Relativity and Barry Korbin dropped the ball on Fabulous Disaster? That record should have been so huge for you guys. Plus look at their track record, before they sold out to Sony, the only thing that really took off for them sort of was when they had Megadeth. They had so much talent, and it just seems no one noticed.
I think that Combat Records did all they could do. They certainly supported us to the best of their ability. People outside of the business don’t understand how much politics and bullshit goes into making a record huge. In my eyes “Fabulous” was a huge record for us. We did all the big tours and were a household name at that point. It’s all a roll of the dice when deciding what to do next. Obviously we got as big as we could on an indie like Combat, and then we made the jump to a major, thinking it would take us to the next level. It did not. We would have been better off staying with Combat.
13. Around the early 90s before Seattle exploded, it seemed all the metal bands were signing to major labels and you were no exception you guys got the deal with Capitol. Let’s be honest, Capitol is a great label I guess if you’re a legend like Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and etc. Mercer has always had the reputation of being on the cusp of where music is heading. Do you think that they knew what to do with you guys? I mean, again another classic Exodus record Impact is Imminent and then Force of Habit and it seems that you guys are still on the underground.
They had no fucking clue what to do with us. Major labels were all out looking for the next Metallica and they tried jumping on us. The plus side to it all was Capitol had a lot of resources. They could make a phone call and get a song into a television show or movie. Combat didn’t have that kind of pull. The downside, obviously, is the fucking own you and try to tell you how to sound. In my opinion we lost our edge when we went to Capitol. I still love both of those albums, but we were no longer a big fish in a small pond. We got lost in the shuffle and it ultimately killed the band.
14. What do you think is the biggest misconception about Steve Souza?
The biggest misconception is that I’m an asshole. I’m really not! I am very dedicated to the craft of creating heavy metal, and sometimes that might make me seem difficult, but I just want everything to be the best that it can be. Perfectionist I may be. Asshole I am not!
15. Besides your cd or Testament’s last cd, what was the last cd you had to go out on first day of release and buy it?
That would probably be Machine Head “Unto The Locust” or their newest live record. I am great friends with those guys, and I’m a fan, so I have no problem going out and spending my money to support one of my bros when they have a new record. I could wait on the free promo CD like so many other industry guys do, but I’d rather support the cause.
16. Is there anyone you have not toured with yet, you would love to go on tour with?
I have toured with pretty much everybody you could think of, with the exception of some of the big guys. I’d say put me on tour with AC/DC, Ozzy, or Metallica and that would finish off my bucket list. Is that too much to ask?
17. Is there any chance we would see you reform with Exodus? You know the rage these days is bands to reunite and go on tour and play a classic album from start to end. I think people would die for you to tour and maybe get Dark Angel, Zoetrope, Heathen, Nuclear Assault and the hardcore punk bands and do a Combat Records reunion tour and you can get Generation Kill to open?
Honestly, I think that ship has pretty much sailed, and it’s not because there is any kind of animosity or anything. We all get along great and are good friends. Exodus is doing well right now with their current line-up, and I am very proud of them for soldiering on and continuing to make records. I have Hatriot now, and that’s plenty on my plate. I never say never though, and there could be a tour with both bands. That would be real cool. I do join Exodus for a song or two when they play locally, and that may be the extent of me fronting the band, but it is a lot of fun and I always look forward to it. The fans enjoy it too.
18. Can I be honest, while this new record is awesome. I was a big fan of Tempo of the Damned as well, do you think looking back that this record should have been so much a bigger deal than it was? Knowing what you know today, would you still have done the Tempo record with the guys?
I do think “Tempo” should have been bigger. Again, there’s a whole lot of factors that go into making a record into a huge deal. A lot of it is luck and a lot of it is timing. Honestly, I think “Tempo” would have been a lot bigger had I been in a position to tour the world for a couple years and really push it into people’s faces. I quit the band just before a tour of South America, and it killed the momentum of the record. The label basically pulled the plug on any other promotions at that point, and the record was dead in the water. I regret the way it all went down and I take full responsibility for it. I dropped the ball.
19. Let’s be honest, I am getting older, you are getting older. Bands like yours, Rolling Stones, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, people like Ozzy, Bono and etc. are not going to be doing this forever. In the last say 10 years any bands and singers that came on the scene in your mind can one day be in the league of the icons? This is your chance to give some new band or singer the Zetro rub.
That’s a tough one. I honestly can’t think of any singers that have the icon potential, or really bands either for that matter. I think it’s because there are so many bands now and the internet has taken away any mystique that a band once had. Now it’s nothing special to be in a band. Back in the day it was a huge deal. It’s sad to think of it that way, but when these classic guys are all gone I’m not sure there will ever be anybody in metal that big ever again. I hope I am wrong, because there are a lot of great players out there. I hope they get their chance at doing something on that level.
20. We are in a new age; today we have the internet and the internet critic. Do you read all the press and responses your bands get? If so, does the negative stuff get to you?
I honestly get a laugh out of the negative stuff. Everybody with a computer thinks they are entitled to voice their opinion, and that’s fine with me. The haters on Blabbermouth and the kids that talk shit – that’s all to be expected. When they have 30 years in the business like I do then they can have an opinion that I listen to. Until then…
21. I just found out, Steve you been named the new President of the United States, you won by a landslide. Chuck Billy is the Vice President. So, how do we solve the recession? ( Does anyone beside me, think this would be a kick ass country if that were to really happen)You can get Jon Oliva to be speaker of the house in his Gutter Ballet outfit.
I would make it mandatory for people to buy heavy metal albums again. That should stimulate the economy!
22. This is name and people association, again Steve you can say what you want.
a. Brian Slagel
He’s a true legend in the business. I have nothing but major respect for Brian. He is an icon and a true metal warrior. Even though he passed on signing Hatriot, I still love the guy.
b. President Obama
I think he tries, although I am not happy about his stance on the gun thing at all. I hate politics.
c. Chick Fil-A
I have never eaten at a Chic Fil-A but I’d like to try it. We really don’t have them out here. I have heard about their views on things, just from watching the television, but I don’t know anything else about them. Shut up and make my food is what I’d say about them.
d. Females taking over metal
I don’t see females taking over metal at all. There are a lot of females that sing in bands now, but none of them become iconic. I’m not being sexist when I say it but thrash metal is geared more to the guys in the scene. If chicks like it then that’s great, but thrash metal has always been about speed and violence, not looking good and being commercial.
23.Looking back do you view films as The Decline of the Western Civilization Part 2 as smart ideas for metal? What is your take on shows like Metal Evolution, That Metal Show and metal guys on reality television?
I think that any press is good press and I think that these movies help get kids into metal. The Decline film showed everything wrong with metal in 1987, and honestly aside from Megadeth and Motorhead there wasn’t much to see there, except for Chris Holmes getting smashed drunk in the pool. That Metal Show is one of my favorites. I got all those guys some custom Hatriot swag made because they show me a lot of love on that show. I wish there were more outlets for metal on television, but we have what we have, and we should all support them.
24. This is the end finally, thank you so much. Now it is time for you to promote, tell people what is going on, plug…thank you so much Zetro
I really appreciate the interview. I want to thank all the fans out there for following me through all the years, and I encourage you all to go get “Heroes Of Origin.” I promise you won’t be disappointed. Stay heavy and I will see you all on tour very soon! Cheers – ZETRO