The music business is quirky. What makes proper sense to a fan may not translate down to the artist. Hatriot is a prime example of this. Back on July 12th 2015 Hatriot announced the departure of vocalist Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza. I missed the initial thread because I was attending Mayhem Fest but I caught it later much to my dismay.
I initially thought the situation was inevitable since Zetro had recently re-joined his former bandmates in Exodus. The after effects were still being felt but the current Exodus tour was over. Gary Holt was now touring with Slayer, which suggested Zetro had the time for ‘double duty’ so what the hell was really going on?
Fans invest themselves emotionally into the groups they follow, the songs are treasured anthems, like a rat following the Pied Piper, we attach ourselves to these artists often until the bitter end. I’ve been following Hatriot since 2011, I needed to understand why.
I had Zetro’s number from my prior dealing with the artist so I decided to text him and see if I could get to the bottom of this. Please enjoy some excerpts with my 7/19/15 interview with Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza.
Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza: Hey, what’s up man?
David Halbe: Hey, how you doing?
Zetro: I’m good, I’m good, how about you?
Dave: Same old shit, having a house is like having kids, the shit never ends.
Zetro: (Chuckles) I know it. So, you want the exclusive? You know, I haven’t actually answered anyone else yet. I mean, the word is out more or less. I told people in Europe because we had dates planned but it really wasn’t my decision. If it was up to me I would probably not be doing it but I’ve been so caught up with Exodus the last year or so and I was kind of hoping Cody (Hatriot bassist, Zetro’s son) might do it and he wanted to do it.
Zetro: They came to me after I came back from Japan – or maybe it was the American tour with Testament – either way they had this whole paper written out, both my sons (Cody & Nick) and it had what their goals were and what they wanted to achieve in music and they didn’t want to be in dad’s shadow and Cody was confident he could do it and I thought ‘ok, hell, they (Hatriot) did a couple of shows without me and Cody sang because I wasn’t there’. When they played people were texting and calling me, telling me your kid is fucking nailing it’.
Dave: I heard something about that.
Zetro: Then, I don’t know if they’re gonna do it or not, but Chuck [Billy – Testament vocalist] and Maria [Ferrero – Adrenaline PR CEO] – Breaking Bands – are thinking about managing the band Hatriot. They got him a video and Chuck was impressed.
So, let’s go into the studio and hear what you got. “Silence of the Road”, I didn’t even do it, I wasn’t there for the performance. Juan (Urteaga – Trident Studios), the guy who recorded the last two Hatriot records, I get an email from Juan later telling me, my kid killed it and I was like ‘wow’ so I haven’t heard one negative response yet from it.
Zetro: I mean, I’m writing the lyrics anyway so I am still a part of it, I’m not just letting go.
Dave: I know, I get it, but don’t you think it’s too soon? I mean, the last time we talked the fan base was just starting to get there.
Zetro: Hey, I was the first one going, ‘are you sure you guys wanna do this?’ And they were like ‘yeah, we wanna do this, without you. We didn’t know the impact of you going back with Exodus was gonna be like this. We thought you’d go back and there’d be a birthday cake with candles for a month and you’d move on but it’s still going’, know what I mean?
Zetro: (Laughs) I’m still giving interviews and still talking about it.
Dave: Holy shit.
Zetro: I know, it has not subsided one bit which has meant a bigger tour schedule. Since I’ve re-joined Exodus I’ve played 133 live shows.
Dave: Holy fuck!
Zertro: I know, 133 Exodus shows since I rejoined in 2014. I recorded a fucking record and played 133 shows, I started counting them at the end.
Dave: That’s crazy.
Zetro: (Laughs) I know.
Dave: Well, you said you were a ‘road dog’ and you were dying to get back out on the road.
Zetro: I know man, do you hear me complaining?
Dave: Hell no!
Zetro: I think Hatriot did around 20 shows last year maybe in a couple of years they can take over but honestly I was sold about stepping down when I heard the recordings, have you heard them?
Zetro: He (Cody) sounds great!
Dave: He sounds like you in a lot of ways, it’s pretty cool.
Zetro: I think he’s more like a cross between me and the guy in The Black Dahlia Murder.
Dave: Trevor Strnad?
Zetro: Yes, I think he’s more like him, maybe a higher version
** Zetro Does a quick impression of Strnad’s singing style. **
I’m awestruck by the vicious vocal delivery momentarily.
Dave: Hell yeah!
Zetro: Anyway, so that’s how it all came about.
Dave: Ok. So, how about the record deal, will it still be honored without you as vocalist?
Zetro: It doesn’t matter, it was only a two record deal.
Dave: So, Hatriot’s looking for a label now?
Zetro: Right, and because of the success of the last two records, they’re looking for a bigger label.
Dave: So there’s material ready to shop?
Zetro: I heard 7 songs musically and I have started writing 2 lyrically. When I come home we sit down. We got together last week on a Wednesday night and we sat here for four hours and we wrote a song called “One Less Hell to Answer”. Let’s make it clear, I am definitely writing songs for them.
I don’t have anything going with Exodus right now, I think the next thing we’re doing is the Motörhead’s Motörboat thing with Anthrax, Slayer and Suicidal (Tendencies) among others. It’s September 28th. I’m home until then, there might be a Bonded by Blood Anniversary show here in the Bay Area but as we are talking it’s just that, I haven’t seen anything about a place or a date yet.
Dave: That would be bad ass!
Zetro: Yeah, it’s been 30 years and we’d be playing the album in its entirety and then a bunch of other shit, you know?
Dave: Fuck yeah.
Zetro: But that’s just what they are talking about, nothing’s been confirmed.
Dave: Did you write any lyrics with Chuck for the new Testament? You mentioned something last time we talked.
Zetro: Four songs, we got four songs for it, really good stuff but I don’t really know what’s happening with it, we haven’t really spoken since we finished those dates in Europe. Maybe they’re working on the new album right now, I don’t know.
Dave: Speaking about that Exodus/Testament tour, people would kill me if I didn’t ask. You know the show in Joliet I missed you at, what the hell went down that night from the band’s perspective?
Zetro: Well, when we went to go on stage, there’s really no backstage there, so we walked off the tour bus in our stage clothes and a bunch of cops stopped us, for a minute, then they realized who we were and let us go but as we walked up there we were like ‘what the fuck was their problem?’ Then we saw all the people outside, it was way past show time and there was still a line from the venue doors to the street! So we get inside and the place is fucking packed we were like ‘where the hell are they gonna put all those people?’ I’m thinking man, this place is piled to high to the rafters. There was no space open to put a body. That was the deal.
Dave: It sucked.
Zetro: You know when I came off the bus later, going to grab something to eat, I’m walking and I just see people still screaming to get inside so I went back in and talked to Chuck and he said it was oversold by three or four hundred but I figured it was more like one fifty or one seventy five, I mean, three or four hundred would have been insane!
What they were doing was, let’s say you got inside, then went outside to have a cigarette, you were out, that was it. You couldn’t get back inside.
Dave: Yeah, that’s what we heard.
Zetro: And you couldn’t even turn around and go wait a minute. They were like, nope, you’re out.
Dave: That was a horrible night, the only good thing for me was still getting Marcos from Shattered Sun to do an interview, there were drunks everywhere, chest bumping chain link fences and shit, it was madness.
Zetro: Yeah man, it was a fucked up day. There was supposedly another venue in mind but it was booked that night so they didn’t put the show there.
Dave: Yeah, that’s fucked up but at least from what I saw it was a fantastic show.
Zetro: Yeah, most of them were on that tour, it was awesome.
Dave: There’s a big demand for you guys right now.
Zetro: Yeah, it’s great there’s a big buzz for Exodus right now.
Dave: So, are you writing any lyrics for the new one? What’s the status of the next Exodus album?
Zetro: As far as the band is concerned, Blood in Blood Out, is the new one. They don’t operate like Hatriot man. You know, there’s a new Slayer coming out in a couple of weeks.
Dave: I heard, that’s why I can’t believe that Hatriot thing. I mean, you’re idle now. There are rumors Gary might become a permanent member of Slayer.
Zetro: Well, he is a permanent member isn’t he? I mean, it’s been four years. We’re treating it that way at least. We did the whole European tour with Kragen Lum. He’s an awesome guitar player, he does Gary’s part perfectly.
Dave: That’s cool.
Zetro: Well, hey man. I’ll let you enjoy your Sunday. That’s my story, that’s all I know.
Dave: Alright, I appreciate your time today, take care.
Zetro: No problem, talk to you soon.
For all things Exodus, visit their official website.