Metal Crypt recently conducted an interview with former EXODUS and current HATRIOT singer Steve “Zetro” Souza. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Crypt: HATRIOT was not formed to reinvent the wheel, but to make that old wheel roll in a smoother and more ear-catching way with a twist of something modern to it. Would you say that is accurate or is there a different story about the formation of HATRIOT?
Zetro: Well, I had no intention of ever doing another full-time band again. It’s just such a pain in the ass, you know? Basically, what happened was fate. I ran into this kid named Kosta, who was a guitar player, and by chance I was at his band’s show one night watching them play. The kid was just killing it, man — not just his chops, but the entire structure of the material was dead-on what we used to do back in the day. The dynamics, the breakdowns, the solos — it was all there, and was all perfect. So I went up to him after the show and asked him if he knew who I was, and he about shit himself. He knew everything about me and about thrash in general. I mean, everything. He was like one of those nerds that know way too much about science, only his topic was thrash. So we hit it off and eventually started writing and making demos. I let some of my buddies in TESTAMENT and MACHINE HEAD hear the demos and they all thought I had rejoined EXODUS when they heard it. They were blown away when I told them it was just songs I wrote with this kid I met, and they all said, “You have to form a band with him.” So I did. That was the encouragement I needed to dust off the old war machine and get back into battle.
Metal Crypt: A few years ago you made a fabulous comeback album with EXODUS, which was basically praised everywhere, and people seemed to enjoy your new start. How easy was it for you to start from scratch after parting ways with EXODUS in 2005 under disputed terms?
Zetro: The split with EXODUS was very unfortunate and was all my fault. It really killed my motivation with music and I didn’t want to do a full-time band again. I was against it, actually. The world is just so full of little bands and it’s really difficult to get a foothold in the market. The advantage I obviously have is my name and the connection to EXODUS. So that makes it a lot easier to get people to at least give it a chance. It is a good marketing angle and it opens a lot of doors. Without that, I would not have even tried it. The odds are just not in a band’s favor these days.
Metal Crypt: Let’s get back to HATRIOT, which is what this interview, first and foremost, is all about. Recently the band signed to German Massacre Records and the debut album, “Heroes Of Origin”, is set to be released in January 2013. Obviously, you couldn’t be any happier about the band’s current situation; having a record out within four or five months and being on the roster of one of the most respected metal labels on earth. How did you end up signing a deal with Massacre?
Zetro: We had a strategy to get things moving and it was a plan that we executed carefully. Basically, we did the four-song demo and we sent it out everywhere, and it was well received. I hired an old friend of mine, Chuck Bonnett, to help me arrange interviews and get the press rolling in. He did an amazing job of that and all during the summer of 2012, I was doing interview after interview, and the labels started taking notice. A lot of the labels assumed we were already signed just by the amount of press that was supporting HATRIOT. We then did a video for “Blood Stained Wings” and the label offers started coming in. One of my managers, a guy by the name of Ace Cook, also manages LAAZ ROCKIT. Massacre handles a lot of their back catalog and Ace had a good relationship with them. They are a small label but very passionate about metal and very excited about HATRIOT. Since we already have our promo team in place, we didn’t have to sell our souls to some label to make it happen. Massacre is just adding ammo to the weapons we already have.
Metal Crypt: What about the album itself? What kind of process was it for you to get it done? Did you get exactly the kind of album recorded that you were hoping for, or did some compromises occur along the way?
Zetro: No, there are no compromises with me. I’m 48 years old and I don’t have time to fuck around with anything. It’s all or nothing with me. I’m the guy steering the boat with HATRIOT and we really had the material rehearsed. I’m militant when it comes to that. Band practice is work. We come there to get a job done, not to have fun and shoot the shit. So the guys had their parts down and we very prepared when we got to the studio. We knocked the whole record out during the month of August and were actually ahead of schedule when we finished. I got the record I wanted and I think the public will agree when they hear it. If you liked the “Tempo Of The Damned” EXODUS record, then you will love this too.
Metal Crypt: How does it feel to be a real daddy in this band? I mean, your own kids, Nicolas Souza on drums, who is just 18-years old, and Cody Souza on bass (23), are in the same band with you. Is it easy to work with your kids in HATRIOT, or do they not always remember who the father is?
Zetro: It is really cool. I think it is every father’s dream to share a similar interest with his kids and for me to have both of my boys in my band is a great feeling. It really makes my life feel like it has come full circle because I left EXODUS in 2004 to be able to support my family. Now I’m back in a band with my family, so it is amazing. It sounds strange to a lot of people, but really I have no problems with Nick and Cody. They grew up around this freakshow that is the music business, so they get it. It is a part of their DNA. I’m not the traditional father, you know. These kids grew up on tour busses and in studios. I am dad when they need me to be dad, but I’m their friend and bandmate as well. They have a lot of respect for me because they have seen how hard it is to make something of a music career. The shit ain’t easy. They’ve seen the good and the bad, and trust me, there has been a lot of bad. So, we get along great and have no issues, really. Both of the boys had to try out for the band. I didn’t just give it to them because their name happens to be Souza. They both tried out and they both earned it. Just wait until you hear the album. It will speak for itself and will shut the naysayers up for good. I assure you of that.
Read the entire interview at Metal Crypt.
“Blood Stained Wings” video: