They say the third time’s a charm, right? Well in the case of Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza, living legend and lead vocalist of EXODUS, this would be our fourth interview, and every single one of them has been the charm. The man is one of the most lovable guys in metal, because he lives, breathes, and eats metal. Every time I get the chance to sit down with him I know it’s gonna be great, and this time was no exception. He called to chat about the upcoming Florida shows (more on that in a bit), but we quickly veered off topic and went all over the place like we tend to do. Check it out:
Amps: This must be the one and only Zetro!
Zetro: This must be the one and only Damian! This is our fourth interview in three years, we’re like fuckin’ old friends now for Chrissakes! I saw you on my list and I’m like, “Here’s the guy who talked to me about HATRIOT twice, then being back in EXODUS, fuck yeah!”
Amps: How is everything going, my friend?
Zetro: No complaints. We’re just mowin’ them down left and right.
Amps: I saw the gig in Philly last year with TESTAMENT at The Troc and you guys fucking destroyed in there!
Zetro: Thank you for saying that. That’s how it is now. How we go at it, and you and I have talked about this, in the 80’s it was like, “If it’s a good show, there’s chicks and coke at the after party.” and now, it’s like, “If it’s a good show we beat the shit out of the crowd and we play our songs the way they should be played!” so thank you for saying that. Since I’ve been back we go out there every night to crush, crush, crush, watch THIS! kind of a thing, you know?
Amps: I brought my buddy out to see you at The Troc and he had his Devil Horns raised during your whole set. He loved it, man.
Zetro: That’s the thing, you know? You forget how much fun it was. In our genre of music the crowd is such a big part of the show. So, to watch the Wall of Death, to watch those guys in the pit, it’s cool as Hell. And I’ve always loved our genre of music just because the crowd is such a big part of the show.
Amps: Speaking of shows, you have two of them coming up in Florida. Tell me about those.
Zetro: Yeah, July 8 and 9. First one is at The Brass Mug in Tampa and the next is at Club Vixens in Ft. Lauderdale. They’re just one-offs, we’re not even on tour. We’re flying from Cali to Florida. We haven’t played Tampa in the longest time, so we’re really excited about going down there and taking care of business.
Amps: We have a friend in common in Florida, by the way. Dustin Hardman from AFM/Frontiers/Massacre is an awesome guy!
Zetro: He’s a great guy, great guy! Every time I’m down there he comes to see me. Hey, have you heard the new HATRIOT song “Carnival of Destruction” that they released the other day with my son Cody on vocals?
Amps: I just listened to it and I’m sooooo excited for their next record.
Zetro: When I first heard it I was like, “DAAAAMN! Attaboy!” The kid really nails it, he’s got some of the old man and a lot of himself in there, and he sounds like George Fisher at times. It’s heavy, man.
Amps: Those two HATRIOT records you did are fucking awesome thrash albums, so I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Zetro: Their guitar player Kosta (Varvatakis), who writes all their riffs, is a monster, like we’ve discussed. I’ve heard some of the new stuff, and you can just hear how they’ve moved in the right direction.
Amps: After these one-off shows in FL are you taking some time off, hitting Europe, or getting in the studio?
Zetro: We’ve actually been busy as Hell! We got home April 1 and I kept track this time. June 6 was two years of me being back in the band, right? We’ve done 211 shows…211! So we came home just to recharge the batteries. After these two FL shows we’re home for 13 days then we leave for the late summer festivals. We’re gonna go do Loud Park in Japan, we’re doing this thing with KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and UNEARTH in San Francisco, L.A. and Las Vegas, then we’re looking at a possible Australia and New Zealand run.
Then we’ll come back home for a couple of weeks and then go out with OBITUARY, PRONG, and KING PARROT in Europe from October to November. But Gary (Holt, guitar), Tom (Hunting, drums) and myself, we’ve been talking, we know that 2017 will be three years since EXODUS has put a record out. It hasn’t quite been two years since Blood In, Blood Out, but we’re coming up on it, you know? Shit, I’m here for the duration, so I don’t wanna wait five years in between records. I wanna keep the music good while we’re still able to write great stuff and this album shows that Gary Holt is the master and still has everything it takes to put out a great fucking thrash metal EXODUS song together, 31 years later, you know?
Amps: Blood In, Blood Out has actually gotten in the way of me reviewing other stuff because I just have to hit REPEAT one more time!
Zetro: You know, when people ask me what my favorite EXODUS record I have to say it’s this new one. After 31 years we’re still putting out brutal songs and I love every one on the album. All of the albums have a special place in my heart, even the ones we don’t play anything from anymore. After a certain period of time there are certain songs that are classics that people want to hear. I don’t ever wanna go out on tour and hear people say, “Yeah, I saw EXODUS, and it was cool, BUT…they didn’t play “Bonded By Blood” or “The Toxic Waltz”.
You should always play those songs, they’re the ones that put you on the map. People should hear “Blacklist” and “Strike of the Beast” every night, no matter what. MOTORHEAD never took “Ace of Spades” out of the set. You never went and saw them and didn’t hear that song. IRON MAIDEN has to play certain classics every night. Even on that 2010 tour where they focused on more 2000’s-era stuff they still did “Wrathchild”, “The Number of the Beast” and “Fear of the Dark” because you have to. The fans deserve that, you know?
Amps: I just saw MEGADETH in March and they did the Mother of All Setlists with every classic you could imagine. IRON MAIDEN in NYC did six new tunes and a bunch of killer old ones as well.
Zetro: Both bands just put out MONSTER records! I listen to The Book of Souls all the time from start to finish. And Dystopia? Attaboy, Dave! “The Threat is Real”, that’s MEGADETH right there. I get chills whenever I hear that song, that riff is crazy! Also, For All Kings from ANTHRAX is a 9.7/10 for me. Joey Belladonna sounds inspired! Lyrics are incredible, the choruses are incredible, and everything I loved about SHADOWS FALL Jon Donais (guitar) brought to ANTHRAX. When I finally see them I’ll probably go in their dressing room and suck their dick for 20 minutes (laughs)!! From top to bottom that album is so strong!
Amps: How is everybody doing in the band health-wise? Everybody feeling good?
Zetro: Yeah, man. Tom is like Rocky. He has two houses. He lives on a goat ranch in the Bay Area, but he also has a retreat house on the lake and there ain’t nobody for miles. He goes up there and trains like Rocky when he fought Drago. He goes up there and chops wood and just gets himself into shape. Everybody is very serious about their health. Yeah, we’re all getting old and every once in a while you might hear, “Oh, my back” or “My knee’s killing me”. I started playing ice hockey again, and I pulled my shoulder in April and it STILL fuckin’ hurts, you know (laughs)?
Amps: What are you gonna say to all the EXODUS fans out there?
Steve: Thanks for such great words since my return. It’s been two years and every night has been great. The fans have been amazing and we’re having a blast. And don’t worry, we ain’t goin’ anywhere!
Once again I had a blast and laughed my ass off with Zetro. Due to the fact I was at work and had to get back to it we didn’t get to chat as long as I would have liked, but we made definite plans to hook up next time the guys are in Philly. EXODUS is better than they’ve ever been right now and I hope we get another 31 years out of them. Go out and get Blood In, Blood Out if for some reason you haven’t already, and crank that shit up high!
LIVE PHOTO: ANNIE ATLASMAN PHOTOGRAPHY