Interview conducted June 18 2018
Interview published July 24 2018
"I have to be honest with you. I think it was
more fun when I was younger."
Metal Covenant was given some time
to talk with vocalist Steve "Zetro" Souza
as the Bay Area thrash veterans Exodus came to Stockholm, Sweden for a
show earlier this summer.
"It's the Big 1, the other 3 and all the rest
Tobbe: When strictly looking at Exodus's
interests, isn't it kind of okay that Slayer will most likely end their
career in a couple of years?
Steve: I don't say couple of years; it's already
on. I'd say they're in the final year of it, I would think. You know,
I guess personal choice by musicians that are getting older
the '80s it was great, and maybe the '90s, and even the early 2000's,
but we're almost in 2020 and some people just aren't interested in doing
this anymore, so. If you're heart is not into it, definitely don't do
Tobbe: And surely Gary's [Holt] involvement
in Slayer has of course helped Exodus to some extent.
Steve: Oh, I agree with that. A hundred percent,
yes I do. We were playing a concert in Montréal; it's called
Heavy Montréal. Gary was with Slayer and they were in Europe
and we were home, so we flew off to go do it, from San Francisco, and
he flew and met us there. And I was in my room and I get this text message
"Hey motherfucker. Get down to the bar; we're drinking.".
I wanted to see all the guys so I go down there, and it was Gary and
Kerry King and some of the roadies and Tom [Hunting, drums] and Lee
[Altus, guitar] and a couple of us.
know, we're down there, bullshitting and I see Kerry sitting at the
bar watching sports and he's eating, like, some wings and a burger;
something like that, and some guy walks up to me and, I mean, I'm just
talking to him, pats him and he walks to the end of the bar. It was
late and I'm like "I'll see you tomorrow morning. I'm going upstairs.
I'm gonna go to bed.".
So I walk to the end of the bar and that very
same guy goes to me; he goes "Hey man. Who are you?" and I
said "My name is Steve Souza.". He goes "You play in
a band?" and I go "Yeah, I play in a band called Exodus.".
He goes "Exodus
Hmm. Never heard of you before. But that's
Kerry King and I know who Slayer is.". So there's a story of an
example of somebody who truly knows who Slayer is, but never heard of
Exodus before, so.
Tobbe: But has this inconsistency in the
band because of Gary's involvement there sometimes been kind of hard to
Steve: I think a little bit as of the last few
years 'cause our tour schedules ran simultaneously. So to be honest
with you, since I've been back in the band, and it's been 4 years now,
June 6th, he's never toured with us in Europe. It's always been Kragen
[Lum, guitar]. So, that obviously is going to be coming very soon, 'cause
at the end of Slayer he's got us to come back to.
Tobbe: Most bands that have members that
temporary play with other bands sometimes take a break, but you have chosen
to continue all the time.
Steve: We have to work. We're not rich. And this
is what we do. And if you look at Anthrax: Charlie [Benante, drums]
gets tendonitis all the time and either Jon Dette, and I heard Gene
Hoglan was just filling in for Charlie. On the tour they did it's Slayer,
Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Testament and Behemoth in the States right now
and Charlie's hand was hurting, so Gene was playing and he had to do
double duty. And sometimes Scott [Ian, guitar] isn't there and they
get Andreas Kisser [Sepultura], so. You know, sometimes people sit out
and the only one of us that has had to do that is Gary because of the
Tobbe: Blood In Blood Out will hit the 4-year
mark this fall and when can the fans expect to see another record out?
Steve: Well, I heard it. I heard there's songs.
I'm gonna say late 2019; probably it's going to be. To be honest with
you, a realistic schedule. I mean, again, a lot of the time
Gary to finish with Slayer
It's not like we're trying to "Okay,
well, you've got a 2 month break here. Let's try to cram the record
in there.". We don't wanna do that; it's not fair to the fans.
You know, we're Exodus. We've been around since '85. We can play. It's
not like somebody's gonna come and go "They don't have a new record
out, so I'm not gonna go and see 'em.". That's not the case with
know, as long as we're playing Bonded By Blood and [The] Toxic Waltz
and the songs that they like they'll come and see us. We would like
to have a new record out, but it's not just time feasible right now
with commitments of people. I'm ready to go, man. I am ready to fucking
go. I've got a ton of shit to write to. I can write this album in 3
Tobbe: Is there any other way for Exodus
to write music than to just write an intense thrash metal record?
Steve: I don't think it's all necessarily intense
thrash metal records. Songs like And Then There Were None are not thrash
metal, you know. Songs like Children Of A Worthless God; that's not
really thrash metal. I mean, it's a good balance. As long as you have
a good grind. A lot of our songs, like Blacklist, is not thrash metal.
It's not thrash metal, is it?
Tobbe: Does a band like Exodus still look
at physical record sales even to this day?
Steve: Yes, we do. Of course. It's very important.
When Blood In Blood Out came out it was the highest charting record
Exodus ever put out and sold the most out in the first couple of weeks
than we've ever done before. And honestly I feel, with Gary being in
Slayer and then Slayer ending, the band's gonna be bigger the next time,
you know what I mean? The band will be definitely growing.
Tobbe: Does Exodus mean more to you today
than it ever did?
Steve: I have to be honest with you. I think
it was more fun when I was younger. [Laughs] 'Cause of the way we used
to carry ourselves. Now it's all about the live show and playing and
it's great to be considered, you know, legends after so many years.
If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it anymore, you know what I mean? In
the years that I was out I went and was a carpenter in the union for
20 years, you know. I was back to the times as I was in my late '40s
and I was going to work all day and then I was going to write music
in the studio with my kids, you know, at night, for Hatriot. So, it
was like I started all brand new over again.
The way you see it personally. What's your best vocal performance ever?
Steve: I think now live, because I'm singing
better than I ever have. And I'm not being a callus on their pompous
asshole. I really have a grip of what I'm doing and I don't have a problem
with my highs. You know, if you listen to Robert Plant now; Robert can't
do what he used to sing, like in Led Zeppelin. It's honestly too bad.
I wish he could retrain himself to do that. I have never lost that,
Tobbe: Honestly, have you ever compared
yourself to the other singers of Exodus, like [Paul] Baloff and [Rob]
Steve: I don't compare. It's all part of a historic
process, you know what I mean? I think if you were to look at it, to
be honest, I'm the voice of Exodus 'cause I've played on so many of
the albums. Just like there was Paul Di'Anno and then there was Bruce
[Dickinson] and then there was Blaze [Bayley]; I'm Bruce, you know what
I mean? I think Rob's kind of Blaze and Baloff's kind of Paul Di'Anno,
you know what I mean? When people think of Exodus I would have to say
that that's kind of how I'm looked at, you know.
Tobbe: So in what way do you try to preserve
and take care of your voice nowadays?
Steve: I try to eat right. I don't do any drugs
or drink alcohol. So, I'm pretty good about that. And I go to the gym
every day. I'm very conscious about how I wanna train myself. I just
recently lost my parents and they didn't wanna take care of themselves,
you know what I mean? You know, my mother was really sick and my father
went 17 months after my mother and you always here about that: You know,
one goes and the other one goes 'cause they miss the other one. I think
that had a lot to do with it, but my dad, I think if he would have taken
better care of himself, he'd still be here right now.
I don't wanna end up like him and so I go, when I'm home anyway, to
the gym every single day. I'm there for an hour/an hour and 45 minutes;
pumping like cardios, abs, weights and I feel that that's longevity.
And eating: trying to eat, you know, the best you can. And gotta sleep
at night, every night. All these guys went to bed today at 5 and 6 in
the morning; I was in bed by, like, 2 / 2.30, you know what I mean?
So I try to live the normal schedule that I have.
Tobbe: But it's hard to, like, eat correctly,
because it's so easy to get unhealthy food.
Steve: Especially on the road I really have
to concentrate on it, because it's all garbage food. It's all shit food,
you know. So it's like I have to pick and choose what I wanna eat, like
I'm really trying to slim it down. I mean, I'm really eating nothing
but salad right now on the road, you know. I'm really trying, you know.
You can't always live on that, but the McDonald's stops I haven't gone
into, you know. Pizza after the show, I haven't been touching, you know
what I mean?
I think I did it twice so far, only because there
was nothing else to eat and, you know, I'm drained, I'm hungry, gotta
eat something. Your body needs food, so. When I'm at home I can go "Okay.
I can eat this, but I can only eat this much of this." and I know
in 2 hours I can eat another meal, but here I can't do that. There's
a whole table with candy and fucking crackers and all kinds of shit
in there that doesn't have my name on it. And they brought tacos and
tortillas and stuff and, you know, I'm just choosing not to eat that
right now. But it's very hard, because you're hungry, and everybody
else is eating.
Like the other night, everybody went into McDonald's.
The bus is a double-decker and I was up in the back and I came down
and [Slurring] "Hey man! Want a burger?" and I'm like [Sad
voice] "No.". That's another thing with me: Every night there's
a jar of candy and candy is my worst of anything. Cake, sweets, cookies,
any of that type of stuff I love, so. And when I'm on tour they just
give it to you in droves, you know. So I have to tell myself that I'm
not going to eat this type of stuff, you know.
Tobbe: Well, you gotta start somewhere.
Steve: There's no start; it's continuous. It's
just I haven't been too successful at it. [Laughs]
Tobbe: What's the status of Dublin Death
Patrol right now?
Steve: There's really no status. It was only
really supposed to be a one record thing, Chuck [Billy, Testament] and
I, and then all the other guys in the band that had never done this
on this level before were like "We gotta do another record. That
was so cool.". It's kind of like that drug, you know what I mean?
You need that adulation rush. But it was funny, as right when we started
writing Death Sentence , Chuck had to write Dark Roots Of Earth,
so he wasn't even in on the writing of that, and when we recorded it
I wrote mostly all the lyrics.
had to tell him "Hey. Okay, with this song we're doing this and
you're gonna do this part and I'm
", you know; towards the
first record [DDP For Life, 2007] that was a better collaboration of
Chuck and myself on the vocals. Pigs In The Hollow, stuff like that,
so. Every time we talk about doing it again, it's like "Hey Zet,
what are you doing?" and "Oh fuck. Exodus is gonna do this
and "Okay. Testament's gotta do this.", so we're always like
this [Spreads his arms].
Tobbe: But maybe some day.
Steve: Yes, yes. Don't ever say no to something.
I never do that. Who's not to say I'm gonna sing on, you know, future
Hatriot records, you know what I mean? I don't know. Which they start
recording in August. And my son is the singer now, so.
Tobbe: It runs in the family.
Steve: Full circle, bro.
Tobbe: And then your grandson is coming
there too, I guess.
Steve: I don't have those yet, but they're old
enough. My children are old enough. I have a 28 year old son, 25 year
old son and a 20 year old daughter, so anybody could, at any time, I
guess. My brother's already a grandfather and I'm thinking "Man,
I feel like kind of young.", but when I look back, my dad was already
a grandfather when he was 52, and I'm 54, so. My sons don't want it
right now. That's good; fine with me. I had my first son when I was
26, so I was young having children. I think, honestly, it's better when
you're older for... Well, it's give and take.
We were broke, me and his mom; we were stupid.
You know, I was trying to play in Exodus from the beginning. I made
her pregnant in '89 and we decided to get married in '90 and that was
at the height of everything, you know. And so here I am having children
You know, if you wanna do this lifestyle, it's really not
easy. Like right now, I've been gone for 6 weeks. On this tour I've
been gone for 6 weeks. I miss my pugs, but I don't miss my children,
so. At that age you will always miss your children. It's just the way
As we mentioned, Slayer is putting an end to their career. Do you see
an end to Exodus's career too?
Steve: No. If these guys all don't wanna do
it, I've got them all replaced. Think about it. I got two kids that
play drums and bass. [Snaps his fingers] Pick them up like that, so.
I plan on doing this 'til I'm 70 years old, at least. Lemmy was 70.
Look at the Scorpions, so. And people still go see them.
Tobbe: Among the fans, there's always talk
about extending The Big 4 to, like, The Big 5 and Exodus is one of the
Steve: I don't agree with The Big 4; I never
have. How can you say that, when one could put 10 times more than the
other 3 put together? So The Big 4 is really
I mean, I think Exodus
innovated thrash metal regardless if they got credit for it. I saw it.
I was there. I was in another band when it happened. I was in Legacy
when it happened. So I saw it.
So regardless of who got the fucking crowns on
their heads, you know what I mean?; they were the first one. I'll show
you something that will solidify that. This is 1984. I found this a
couple of days ago. Look at that flyer! Who's on that bill? Who's under
Exodus? How much did it cost to get in? $5. That's 1984.
So you gonna try to tell me who The Big Four
is, you know what I mean? I lived it. I fucking lived it, so. That's
why I don't even acknowledge when people bring that up. This is what
I say: It's the Big 1, the other 3 and all the rest of us.