Steve “Zetro” Souza is the lead singer of Exodus and Hatriot from California. 2014 had two major releases for Zetro, including Exodus’ 10th studio album, Blood In, Blood Out, as well as Hatriot releasing their sophomore album, Dawn Of The New Centurion.
Exodus will be playing Nov. 26 at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA, Nov. 29 at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, and Nov. 30 at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. In a recent interview, Zetro and I spoke about his bands’ new albums, how the setlist will go for this tour, and more.
When you first heard Blood In, Blood Out, before you recorded your vocals, what song excited you the most about laying down vocals for it?
The first song that hit was “Numb.” It’s still my favorite on the record. I can go through every other Exodus record and go, “I am going to click through track three or seven or eight … I don’t find myself doing that on this record. I listened to all 11 songs on here, but I couldn’t wait to sing “Numb.” “Collateral Damage” was a lot of fun to sing, too. This was a really fun record to do, although I did know that I had to deliver. I have been in this band with these guys since I was 22 years old. I know how to do Exodus.
Now, what songs from this album do you expect to get featured the most on this tour’s setlist?
“Black 13.” Any time you do a new record, why are you not opening with the first song on the album? I am sure we will play “Blood In, Blood Out?” I want to play a lot of the other stuff. On the Slayer tour, we get 35 minutes, so we are going to play three songs from Blood In, Blood Out. The other four will be a different number of songs; one from Bonded [By Blood], one Fabulous [Disaster], one Pleasures [Of The Flesh], and one off Tempo [Of The Damned]. When we come back to headline, maybe two or three times because we think this record is really strong. We will play a lot more of the catalogue, along with Blood In, Blood Out.
Can you point to a song where you put in your own lyrics, or changed up a few lines to make it flow better?
“Body Harvest” was the only one that I wrote. Everything else was written before I got there. Gary [Holt] is an amazing lyricist. When I left Legacy—Testament, as everyone knows—there was a lot I learned. I felt that I was a great writer back then. The stuff that I wrote with Legacy— pretty much on The Legacy record—every one of those songs I wrote. I feel that I learned a lot from Gary when I joined Exodus through the years I was there. He gave me a template on what to go off of and I pretty much was myself. Jack Gibson [bassist] was the engineer on the album, and I think he did an incredible job on the record. I would do a few takes, send them to Gary, who was on tour with Slayer during my whole recording process. With any Exodus record, I always had him in the booth. I would send everything to Gary, and he didn’t fix too much—maybe a word here, a phrase there. I remember he was like, “Tell Zetro not to be so gobliney on this one.” It was kind of funny. There weren’t a lot of fixes I did. I went in very natural and went, “Yaaargh!” and let them have it. That’s what makes a good frontman and a good singer is to know when to put the pepper on.
Did you get any time to speak to Kirk Hammett for his contribution to the song “Salt The Wound?”
I didn’t really get to talk to Kirk about that, but I did get to play with him at a private party when he played Comic Con. We played three or four songs with him; we played “Grinder,” “Low Rider,” “Seek And Destroy.” I thanked him for playing on the record, and he was like, “Oh, no man, you did a great job on this.” That was pretty much the only conversation I did with Kirk about playing on the album. I asked about that day, Jack engineered it. He laid down the lead and killed it, then they all drank beer and ate hotdogs and hamburgers and had a killer barbeque.
When we went to Heavy Montreal a few weeks ago, they played on the Saturday, and we played on the Sunday. When we got there on Friday, he texted us and said, “I got you guys all hooked up,” and he took care of us. I love the relationship between the two bands right now. Him and Gary went out to dinner, and I believe this is how it all went about. They were seeing a lot of each other lately and he said yes. He asked him if he would like to be on the record, and he said he would be honored.
You and Chuck Billy appear on the song “BTK.” What did you and Chuck do to make the song especially dark?
We’ve done two Dublin Death Patrol records by now, so we are good at this. It’s like, “Do your heavy voice, and I am going to do my fucking high scream voice.” We made sure that we didn’t bleed over each other. We were standing by each other. We literally had a hand up, so on the syllable, we would follow each other. I would look like Bruce Lee with my hand up doing fucking karate chops.
How did you come up with the lyrics for Hatriot’s “Consolation For The Insane?”
“Consolation For The Insane” is almost a metaphor. We’re all the insane ones. We are living in this damn contraption. We should be given the nod. Let the insane go free, let all of them go home. Let us go to serenity. Basically it’s like corralling all the lunatics and putting the authorities in charge. The lunatics are the ones driving the machine. The authorities are us.
For Hatriot’s “Dawn Of The New Centurion,” what conflicts is this about?
I think it’s about the conflicts going on, and I am so tired of it already. Syria, than the Gaza Strip, Ukraine… It’s the whole thing over again. That’s where “Dawn Of The New Centurion” comes in.
For Hatriot’s “World Funeral,” is this meant as a wakeup call for people?
Just in the last 100 years or so, we have created these machines, devices, and things that if one asshole has a bad day gets to press a button and everybody is affected by it. With global warming, no one is paying attention to what we are doing to the universe. Mother Nature is fighting back hard. You are getting ready for a funeral, that is the whole idea for the verses. Get your black suit, your black armband, follow the black hearse, it’s the world’s end. The hearse is driving the world down the drain.
Now, can you tell me about some of the songs you are working on for the next Hatriot release?
I have a song called “One Less Hell To Answer.” It’s about any type of relationship, between a man or woman, a family where it is just work to go and deal with that person. There is another song called “The World, The Flesh And The Devil.” That’s when it comes down to the final straw. That’s when it is the ground, the people, and Hell. Another song is called “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.” That is about people that did very heinous crimes and they never get put to death. They just keep appealing it and wasting taxpayer time and money. Frankenstein is those who are on death row. If you are on death row, you must have done something so bad. Death row is supposed to be a deterrent. If you do heinous crimes like this, this will happen to you. It’s not doing what a killer did. Look, if you do this and we catch you, this is what is going to happen to you. Fuck you!
Thanks for everybody for supporting my career, Exodus’ career. 30 years of relevancy is a dream come true. When you are a kid 17 or 18 years old, in a garage banging out music with three other guys, now probably bald, fat, and living with their families, and you are wishing you will have a full day of interviews to do, I’m thankful for that, and I do not take it for granted.
Exodus will be playing Nov. 26 at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA, Nov. 29 at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, and Nov. 30 at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. Their new album, Blood In, Blood Out, is available now through Nuclear Blast. For more information, go to