For most of us Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza is the iconic frontman of Exodus. He is the voice of the band’s most celebrated albums Pleasures of the Flesh, Fabulous Disaster, Impact Is Imminent, Force of Habit and their “comeback” album Tempo of the Damned. His career started with a group called Legacy which later became Testament. The San Francisco bay area thrash metal scene was epicenter for the whole genre and Exodus was one of the early bands in the scene.
“They [Exodus] were the first innovators of thrash metal,” Souza states. “Regardless whether they got the respect or recognition. And you can ask everybody. Slayer, Metallica, anybody, and they’ll say that Exodus was there in the first part. They were the hub. You could call them the hub of thrash metal. “
The music industry has changed in a profound way with the popularization of the Internet and digital distribution. The role of record labels, earning mechanisms for the bands and how music is discovered and consumed has changed and forced bands to become smarter in the business of music.
“We used to sell 300-400 thousand records. Now you don’t do that anymore,” explains Souza. “If you sell 60k-70k records you have been very successful. That’s why when you go to a concert you pay big money to see the acts. And you pay a lot more money for the merchandize. The bands have to find a way to survive. I have a concert poster on my wall from when I toured with Black Sabbath in 1992. It was Black Sabbath and Exodus and the poster says ‘get your tickets early! Only $13.25!’ Now you pay $60 for a show.”
Old school metal has been regaining popularity in recent years. Speed and thrash metal is much more fashionable now than it has ever been since the early 90s’. The older bands have reunited and reactivated, produced new albums and toured across the world. At the same time there’s a whole wave of new thrash metal bands coming up.
“I think what happened was it came and went so fast that people didn’t really get a good grasp on what they really had,” Souza ponders. “I have a little bit to do with this. In 2001 Chuck Billy got sick with cancer and there was a show in San Francisco that I was a part of. It was called ‘Thrash of the Titans’. And a lot of the Bay Area bands, almost all of them reformed just to do this show. Anthrax was there, S.O.D was there. There was a lot of buzz and I think everybody took a look at themselves and said ‘Hey man, this is so fun and there is still a crowd for us.’ I think that helped to start it off. Exodus was doing Tempo of the Dambed in 2004, Testament did Formation of Damnation in 2007, Forbidden did Omega Wave and Metallica was keeping it up, Slayer doing their stuff, Megadeath putting out new albums. The crows, the fans and the scene was hungry for it. As soon as it returned, nobody wanted it to go anywhere. Now you are getting bands like Hatriot, Municipal Waste and all these new thrash bands.”
Souza started working on his latest project, Hatriot, early 2010 and is releasing their first album Heroes of Origin through German label Massacre Records. He is joined in the band by his sons Cody on bass, Nick on Drums as well as Miguel Esparza and Kosta Varvatakis on guitars. It was assumed that he would be playing with his sons, but both of them had to go through a normal audition process and were the best guys for the job. Playing with his sons is like a full circle for Souza.
“I have accomplished everything in the business and it’s cool. I got to tour the world. I got to play with the best musicians in the world in the bands that I played in. And now I get to play with my sons on stage. So I’m living the dream. When I’m on the stage I got Cody to the right of me and Nick is right behind of me pounding it and they are good and they can play. Honestly, every practice is a lesson on what’s going to happen and what to expect. I’m constantly tutoring these guys. Even my sons who have been around the business. This is what’s going to happen next. Then we are going to do this. And then this is going to happen. It’s just part of it. They definitely get to learn lessons from it. ”
Massacre Records is very excited to work with Hatriot. Having a label that believes in their music and fully supports their goals is very important for Souza. Heroes of Origin was recorded at Trident Studios in Martinez, CA with Juan Urteaga. His accomplishments include Unto the Locust and The Blackening by Machine Head and Dark Roots of Earth by Testament. Hatriot will be working on a video and looking forward to touring after the album release. Hatriot is not just some side project for Souza, he’s fully standing behind the band and dedicating a lot of time and energy to it.
“The goal is the world domination, this is not a ‘project’ for us. I already have three songs written for the next record. While we were waiting for the album to come out we started to write new songs. We were practicing and kept playing the album songs and we got bored with them and we started to write new ones. We are going to do the album, we are going to do a tour. We are going to do another record and another tour. It’s going to be just like when I was in Exodus back in the day. I’m not going anywhere. This is not a project I’m doing half-heartedly. We are going to do this forever. This is my job. Five years from now you got four Hatriot albums and you have seen us four or five times on tour and festivals. You know our songs and see us in the magazines.”
Check out the album, Heroes of Origin and make sure to catch Hatriot on tour.
In closing Souza adds, “I just want to say thanks for supporting me through all the years. Wait ’til you hear the Hatriot album Heroes of Origin, you are going to love it. The music on this record is what I’m known for. I want to continue in the vein of making good Bay Area thrash. Don’t worry. I’ll be kicking all your asses soon.”
For more information about Hatriot visit: