Steve 'Zetro' Souza - Hatriot - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rowland   
Sunday, 01 July 2012 04:30



Steve 'Zetro' Souza has spent much of his adult life playing heavy metal music, back in the mid eighties he fronted fledgling thrashers Legacy (a band soon to become more widely known under the moniker of Testament) before moving on to spend seven good years as the singer with a band some metalheads to this day will say were the very catalyst for what became the classic sound of thrash metal, that band of course was Exodus.  We are talking a real legend of the thrash metal scene here right?


So you can almost imagine the levels of excitement we experienced here at URHQ when one day back at the start of June, completely out of the blue, we got an Email from Zetro's representatives asking if we'd like to chat with the man himself, and get this "because he was a fan of the site".  Now PR smooth talking or not, we almost fell off our seats with delight that such an icon of the thrash scene wanted to talk with us, even if It had been a while since we'd last heard his distinctive vocals via the Dublin Death Patrol debut album ('DDP 4 Life') back in 2007.  Somehow we all managed to miss his 2009 album with death metallers Tenet  


With a new band to promote going by the name of Hatriot I certainly had to do my homework for this interview, but just like me what you will find via the following Uber Rock inquistion is that Zetro is a man with metal still coursing through his veins, and not looking like that is going to change any time soon by the sounds of the new music he has produced with Hatriot.  We have linked this below for your listening pleasure.


So enough of my blather, let's cut to the chat.



Hatriot_2Hi Steve, firstly many thanks for taking the time to talk to with Uber Rock here in the UK.


Hey It is my pleasure. It is the webzines and magazines, such as yours, that keep the metal alive my friend. I really appreciate the opportunity.


You currently have a new band called Hatriot. Tell us how you got the band together, and what fans can expect musically from the band?


Well, it all started when I met my guitarist, Kosta Varvatakis, at a show his band was playing. The kid was barely twenty years old was just ripping it man. I was blown away by this kid! After the show I sat down with him and we talked metal for several hours. He knew all about thrash, my history, and these kinds of things. I was really impressed with everything about the guy really, and knew I had to be in a band with him. From there we just put the word out that we were starting a band and started looking for other players. Right now we have Miguel Esparza on second guitar, and that guy is a monster in his own right as well! Miguel and Kosta remind me of the old school thrash teams of Holt and Hunolt, or Skolnick and Peterson. They just have it man. You either got it or you don't, and these guys definitely have it. On bass is my oldest son, Cody Souza. I didn't just put my kid in the band either. Cody is a very solid bass player who has played in a few bands over the past few years. I made him try out and he kicked ass. Fans can expect a continuation of what they heard me do with Exodus during the 'Tempo Of The Damned' era. It is old school thrash, but with some modern feel to it. With my band being so young they have another set of influences. They bring blast beats and triplets to the table, so we have one foot rooted in old school thrash, and the other planted in the newer sound. It is a great thing!


I notice from checking out your website you're looking for a full time drummer right now, how's the search going?


The search is going good. We put an add out on Blabbermouth and on our website, and the response has been what we expected. The thing is I am 48 years old and I don't have time to fuck around. I don't need somebody coming in all excited, and then a few months down the road go "well, I'm not cut out for this." We are looking for somebody who has both the chops and the right attitude, plus they have to have their personal life set up to be able to tour. Hatriot is going to be a live touring band. It's not a "throw the record out and exploit the Exodus fan base" kind of thing. Not at all. Hatriot is going to build it the right way. So to answer the question, yes we have had a lot of people ask about the drummer slot. I am just real picky as to who we let into our fold.


You made your live debut back in May so (subject to you finding a fulltime drummer of course) do you currently have any live dates lined up for Hatriot, and will UK fans get a chance to see the band?


The UK fans will definitely get to see the band. Right now we are preparing to record our full length record in August, and hope to have it out in early 2013. I plan on getting into the same cycle that we used in Exodus - record an album and tour on it, then come home and immediately get started on the next record, and then tour on it. It is a pattern that has worked well for me in the past and I feel that it is the best plan of attack for putting Hatriot on the map. This is not a side project, this is my main band, and Hatriot will be touring a lot. UK dates will definitely happen.




The four song demo you currently have up on Reverbnation sounds pretty savage, what type of label interest have you had so far?


Thank you very much! The songs on the demo are just the beginning of what we have going on. We have a whole slew of other songs written now, and have even put out a killer video for one of them, called 'Blood Stained Wings'. To be honest, there are a lot of labels that have been knocking at our door. I expect to have a deal signed in the next few weeks. There are two well respected metal labels right now that are very interested, and we like what they are offering. The thing is I am not interested in just throwing a product out there and milking the Exodus fan base. I won't sign a deal unless we are guaranteed to go on tour and support the album. I want full creative control as well. Expect a deal to be signed in the very near future!


And what is your vision for Hatriot for the next year or so?


Well, like I said earlier, we hit the studio in August to record the full record. The studio time is already booked. I have the artist lined up and everything. It is full on at this point. I am looking to get the record out in January of next year and hit the road. The thing is we are always writing new stuff, so the second album will be ready to record by the time we finish touring for the first one. I'd say expect two full records and a couple of world tours in the next couple years.


You also have a new album out from another of your projects, Dublin Death Patrol. Who's featuring on this album, and what can we expect?


Yes, there is a new Dublin Death Patrol album coming out in August on Mascot Records. They are actually picking up the first album too. The new album is called 'Death Sentence', and it is pretty much a straight forward heavy rock album like the first record was. To be honest I don't think we are going to do a lot to promote it. The album has actually been recorded for a year, and we all just have so much else going on. Chuck will be focusing on promoting the new Testament record, and I am full on Hatriot as this point. I'm proud of the album and would hope everybody will check it out, but we just don't have a lot of time to commit to touring and that kind of thing.


Thrash metal has enjoyed something of a revival in more recent years, with many young fans and bands really embracing the spirit of thrash. What do you put that down to?


You know, I get asked this a lot and I think it is because the first wave of thrash came and went so fast. I mean it started in the mid 80's and was gone by 1991 or so. The older bands still have something to say, and I feel that's why they are still able to put out great music so many years later. Now the fans that were young kids back then have bands of their own, so these new bands are naturally influenced by the old sound and it has come full circle. Of course with technology and things like they are today it is a totally different ballgame when it comes to marketing the music. I don't know that there will ever be another band as big as the 'Big Four' or anything, because the business structure just isn't there anymore, but it is really cool to see these new bands carrying the torch of what we helped invent back in the old scene.




You are of course a thrash legend, having been a member of Legacy, and then Exodus, both highly revered and influential bands. How does it feel to have influenced the current generation of thrash bands?


It is really an amazing feeling to be recognised as and considered one of the forefathers of the thrash metal style. I was very fortunate to be able to make a mark on the initial scene way back when, and I plan on Hatriot being one of the bigger thrash bands of this current scene as well. That's the thing with me; I never went and changed styles when thrash wasn't in fashion. I have always been a thrash metal singer, and it is great to be looked at as one of the pioneers. I've been doing this almost thirty years now!


What were the early days of the Bay Area Thrash scene really like Steve?


It was very tight knit and very exciting. We definitely did not know what it would turn out to be. We had no idea that it would become a big thing. It was very natural. We were all just friends that supported each other, and supported all the bands. There were shows every night of the week, not just on weekends. You could go down to Ruthie's Inn and see a show, and the guys from Metallica and Exodus would be hanging out. We would all just get together and party and we really didn't think anything of it. There were so many venues and so many things going on. Now, in hindsight, you see how big some of those bands became and it is mind blowing to think about how it started. It was a very magical time looking back on it now.


And who were your influences in the early days?


I was influenced by the hard rock bands of the time - bands like UFO, Black Sabbath, and Ted Nugent. My dad was a biker, so I was always exposed to the cool and edgy rock music of the time. Vocally my main influence has always been Bon Scott. I just look at him as the ultimate frontman. His voice is instantly identifiable, and his stage presence was untouchable. Bon made me want to be a singer.


And who do you admire now?


I admire a lot of people. A lot of people I haven't even met. I admire Corey Taylor from Slipknot. I think he is a great singer and a very good lyricist. I like Brian from Shadows Fall. I think they write great stuff. Robb from Machine Head is amazing. I've known that guy since the Vio-lence days and to see him gain the status that he has is amazing. That guy is so talented and driven. That's the thing - I am still a fan. Sure I have had a lot of success myself, but I am still a fan. I'm sure some of these guys have been influenced by what I do as well, so it's a complete circle I would say.



I hope you don't mind me asking this but I've always wondered did you ever look at what happened with Legacy/Testament after you jumped ship and think, "damn it I should have stayed where I was"?


No, because we had no idea what any of these bands were going to do. I had the opportunity to join Exodus, which was one of the most innovative bands of that time, and I jumped on it with no regrets. Who's to say that Testament would have been big with me fronting the band? We have no idea really. A lot of Testament's success is due to the charisma of Chuck Billy. He's an icon in thrash, and without his presence there may have not been any success. Both bands went on to be hugely successful, and I have no regrets at all. I am very proud of the success that Testament went on to achieve.


Over the years I've heard many people compare your vocal style to your main influence Mr Bon Scott, but I'd always thought you would have made the perfect replacement for Udo In Accept, hypothetical question, what you think if you were ever offered that job?


I would have loved to have done that. If I was asked, I would have definitely jumped all over that. I'm a musician and I love to play music, so to say 'no' to an avenue like that would be insane. Are you kidding me? I would have jumped at the chance. I've done so much stuff musically. I sing on everybody's record! I'm a heavy metal whore! If they thought my voice was distinctive enough to fill Udo's shoes then hell yes I would have done it. Absolutely!


You've created many great things musically throughout your career - is there a particular one album or maybe one song you've written you're most proud of?


Everything that I've written I am very proud of. I try my hardest when I write songs. I think the coolest thing would be the first Testament album. I wrote a lot of material on that one, and for another guy to sing my songs was a real cool experience. I was already in Exodus at the time, so it was like I could put my art into the world with two bands at the same time. To name one song or one album is a hard thing for me because they were all killer in their own way. It's like having to choose your favorite kid, you can't really do that because they are all special, but the Testament record was a cool experience for me.


Steve_Zetro_SouzaYou've also played many stunning live shows in your career. What do you think was the highpoint in your (almost) four decades as a live performer?


The very first festival show that I ever played was in 1988 in Holland. It was the Dynamo Festival and Exodus headlined it. In a few years that festival grew to be huge and they would have crowds of somewhere near a hundred thousand people, but in 1988 I think there were around thirty thousand people. It was a huge show for us. I remember walking out onstage in front of that sea of people and seeing six or seven different pits going on. It was insane! I have done plenty of big shows and have played with all my heroes, but that one sticks out in my head.


Just to finish off Steve, tell the readers of Uber Rock something about yourself that no one else knows - well until you tell us that is....


I can't really think of anything special. I'm not the type that keeps anything quiet. If you ask me a question I will give you the honest answer. My life is pretty well documented and I am an open book. I don't hide much or hold anything back. I got divorced a few years ago. Does that count?


Thanks for speaking with Uber Rock Steve and if you do have any final things to say to your fans in the UK here is your chance.


I just want to say thanks to all the fans in the UK for the years of support. The UK metal fans are some of the best on the planet and I can't wait to come see you all again on tour. It's been a while and it is long overdue. Thank you, Jim, for the great opportunity to do this interview. See you real soon!