Hatriot - Steve Souza
19/10/12 || Averatu
I’ll be dead honest here. When they posted the opportunity to interview Steve Zetro Souza, I did not have a fucking clue who he was. I know that is supposedly lame, but there is a pretty good reason, which is: I was never a fan of Exodus. There, I said it, sue me. But when I mention the name to some of my friends, ears peak and eyes twinkle, which is a scary thing for bearded men to be doing. When I start doing some digging I do find he did vocals on my favorite Testament album, the one where they stick to their roots and thrash out, “First strike still deadly”. And he’s also responsible for the vocals on a brilliant, yet controversial, album titled Sovereign by a band called Tenet. And now he has a new band called Hatriot and he’s thrashing as hard as ever. Now that I can work with.
Global Domination: Steve, may I call you Steve? You have more tattoos than I do so I don’t quite know what the standard protocol would be?
Steve Zetro Souza: Yep you can call me Steve. The world knows me as Zetro, the former voice of Exodus, and now the commander of the soon to be thrash giants Hatriot. I am actually adding a lot of new tattoos to my sleeves right now. I’m doing a theme of classic horror movie characters. This shit is looking sick!
I would not have guessed that the same vocalist performs on “First strike still deadly” and “Sovereign”, and now also on the demo material for Hatriot. Do your vocal chords suffer from schizophrenia?
No, I wouldn’t say it is schizophrenia at all. I sing whatever fits the song. My voice is quite versatile, and with my recent projects like the Tenet album I got to escape the boundaries of Exodus a bit. The Exodus stuff has a signature sound and my voice was sort of one dimensional with that. Don’t get me wrong, I love all those records. They are great fucking records and I’m proud of my work with that band, but I can do more than the monotone range thing. The Hatriot record is going to blow people’s minds. The vocals are the sickest I have ever done in my career!
Your new band is called Hatriot. It dawned on me after looking at the logo for the 50’th time it’s probably a hybrid of the words Hate and Patriot, and also the pentagrams on the flag in the promo photo. I know, I’m smart, my mother keeps telling me.
You got it, those are pentagrams on the flag, and yes Hatriot is a play on the word patriot. The flag is a touchy issue. We get people talking shit about the flag all the time, and I tell them it is not the American flag, it is the Hatriot flag. Those are pentagrams and not traditional stars. Heavy metal music is supposed to be dangerous and against the grain. It is supposed to be angry and make a statement. We do all of that in Hatriot. The imagery is going to piss off the purists of the world. Fuck them. We are a raging thrash metal band and we don’t apologize for that. The name comes from a line in the Exodus song “Scar Spangled Banner”, where I say “I’m no patriot, just a hatriot.” To me a hatriot is a person that loves their country but doesn’t agree with the bullshit that the government pulls on people. It also sounds cool and makes a great thrash metal band name!
And speaking of tattoos, do you really think you’re setting a good example for your kids?
I really don’t give a shit what the world thinks. I am a great example for my kids. I’ve always been a great provider for my family and my tattoos do not hinder me whatsoever from doing just that. I’m a great fucking dad to them. I just happen to be a rock star known all over the world. It wasn’t a traditional upbringing for them. The boys grew up around studios and on tour buses. They get what I do. My daughter is just now a teenager so she hasn’t lived it like the boys did, but she is familiar with what I do. So yeah, I’m a great dad. The kids are hard-working productive members of society. My oldest boy Cody plays bass in Hatriot. My other son Nick is our drummer. Miguel Esparza and Kosta Varvatakis are the guitarists in the band.
Is Hatriot another side project or are you setting out to re-conquer the world?
It’s not a project at all, it is a full on band. World domination is the goal. I am going to redefine what modern day thrash is with Hatriot. Wait and see!
Judging by the demo, you’re going for the old school thrash angle on this one. Are you not fed up with thrash by now, or can you still milk it?
Old school thrash is what I do. It’s what I’ve done since the first Legacy demo in 1985. It is my religion and my love. Thrash metal is a style I helped invent, so I’m not re-inventing the wheel. I’m just doing what I do best. I don’t feel I’m milking anything. This is what I do and I am one of the innovators, it is just time for the next chapter in Zetro history, and that is Hatriot!
“Sovereign” has been called the last Strapping Young Lad album that never happened. What’s your angle on this?
Well, I don’t agree with that. I mean Jed Simon wrote everything for that record, and he’s obviously the guitarist in SYL as well, but for it to be Strapping it would have to include some writing input from Devin Townsend somewhere, and he wasn’t on the record. So it is more of a Jed Simon solo project. That is the only album that I have ever done where I wrote nothing. Not one word. I sang what was given to me and that’s it. Killer record though. It’s very diverse and the players in that project are stellar.
Why has Tenet been so quiet of late, is it stuck in neutral or do we have activity under the surface, like still waters run deep stuff?
Tenet was more of a one-off thing. It is a side project for everybody involved. Some may say it is a Jed Simon solo record. We are all very cool with each other and if time permitted I would be good with working on new material, but everybody in that group has so much of their own stuff happening. It would have to happen during down time and right now there’s not a lot of that. Hatriot is firing on all cylinders now and I’m going to be busier than ever promoting and touring on that record. As for Tenet, we may work together again. Never say never. Maybe one day. I won’t rule it out.
I’ve sure felt like handing a band mate his ass at times, especially the ones that don’t pull their weight on tour. Things can get really intense and hectically tense when you’re in a confined space for prolonged periods, and I’ve never done it on the scale you have. I understand the last tour you did with Exodus, post reunion, ended abruptly in the middle of South America, but I really can’t find a satisfactory explanation or indication as to why things turned out the way they did. Care to elaborate?
Yes, it was a terrible situation and I fault myself for that. I fully take the blame on that. Basically I quit the band just before we were to leave to tour South America. I had too much going on in my home life and with my day job that I just couldn’t commit to Exodus one hundred percent. My head was just not in the right place. So I had to bail on the band and it caused a lot of people to be pissed at me, and rightfully so. The fans were let down too and it was just a nightmare. Basically when the band ended the first time in 1992 I had to find another way to support my family, and that was through a construction job. Believe me it was the ultimate ego bust. One day you are on Capitol Records and the next day you are on the job site. It was a serious wake up call. But I rejoined Exodus over ten years later for the “Tempo Of The Damned” record and my whole situation had changed. I was making great money at my job and I had mouths to feed. So I couldn’t just hop on board and play for peanuts and go tour like we did back in the day. It was just a different chapter in my life and I had to do what I had to do. It sucked and I regret the way it went down, but we have patched up our wounds and I talk to the Exodus guys all the time now. We are brothers again. I wish them the best you know. They are doing great these days and business is booming for them. I have moved on to Hatriot so it’s all good here too.
What can we expect from you in the near future? How is the album going?
The album is called “Heroes Of Origin” and it is completely finished now. We tracked it in August and did the mixing in September. It is ten tracks of pure thrash metal.
When and how is the album coming out
We recently signed with Massacre Records out of Germany, and they will be releasing the record on January 25th, 2013. It is a worldwide release so I need all the thrashers around the globe to go out and get the record. All the fans that liked what I did with Exodus will love the Hatriot record as well.
Any European dates lined up
We have had a few promoters contact us about doing the festival circuit in 2013 so that looks very promising. We would like to get on as a support act for a bigger band, but a lot of that has to do with how many records we sell and how much of a demand we can create with promoters. So nothing is in stone yet, but it looks like Europe will happen next year for sure.
Any South African appearances in the pipeline?
Again it all depends on the amount of demand we can create with promoters. I would love to play South Africa, but it is a logistics issue, and ultimately it is up to the promoters if they want to take a chance on us. I think the thrash metal fans will embrace the Hatriot record and really support what I’m doing here. We want to sell enough records so we can get on tour and play for the fans around the world. We are not looking to get rich. We are just trying to get our music to the masses and hopefully get the chance to do more records in the future.
Demo available for free download for a limited time on www.reverbnation.com/hatriot.