Interview with Steve “Zetro” Souza of EXODUS

Interview by Alex Bland

I always thought, “well, you always have to be in the band,” and I’m very fortunate to be one of the guys in the band, but now that I’ve been in the business for so many years, there’s so many more important people that it takes to get to move it on, and I think that is why I acknowledge everybody. I acknowledge the press guys. The radio guys. The guys who write the blogs. The guys who have their own webzine. Any of those types of things. Any of the big magazines. Any of the press, over there. Anybody taking pictures. Anybody that paints an album cover. Anybody that is selling the tickets. It’s all relevant to each other, and it all works together. If you are a part of that, then you are a part of this. You know what I mean? We welcome that with open arms. – Steve “Zetro” Souza

ExodusSo, the first and last time I saw you guys all together in Exodus, was last year when there was a big news story about you coming back to the band, and everybody was all excited. It was Blood In, Blood Out, and that was in Chico, CA.

That was a good show. That was actually at the end of 2014. That’s right. It was at the end of 2014, we were just on tour with Slayer, and Suicidal Tendencies, and we broke off from them to finish up the tour, just maybe do five days by ourselves. That was a great show, brother. That was a fucking awesome show.

I was happy that you guys were headlining. I took a Greyhound from Humboldt through Oakland and Sacramento to see you guys. There’s probably a more streamlined way I could have made that happen, but I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager, and I jumped at the chance to be able to talk to you. This is really cool for me.

Nice. That’s awesome. That was cool, because we didn’t play too many headliners on that tour, and when we were opening for Slayer, we were only doing thirty minutes, so when you saw us, we played probably fifteen or sixteen songs.

It was crazy. One thing I noticed, that I like about your shows, and I don’t know how it was in the early days, but what I see now, is that you guys are just bringing it every night, just a totally professional band. I don’t get the sense that you guys like to be ogled for, “We’re in Exodus.” You just love bringing the energy to new generations every night.

I would say that sums it up in a nutshell, because I feel our performance, and especially since my return back to Exodus, has been amazing, all of them. I mean, we bring it every night and we’re having fun up there. If you’re having a good time on stage, the crowd can see that, and they’re going to have a good time too.

It’s a lot like you said, I could care less who Googled me or not, okay. Over the years I’ve been in positions where people have said, “Yeah. This guy is the lead singer, or was the lead singer for Exodus, depending on the time period,” and somebody would say, “No, you’re not,” and my first answer would be, “You’re right. I’m not.” It is what it is, so you’re like, “You are right. I’m not that guy.” Exactly. Sure. That was my answer because I don’t really give a shit what people think. None of us do. We love our band. We know what we play. We don’t stray away from the formula. We don’t try to be something else we’re not. We know we’re not an arena-sized act. We know where we fit, and we are content with it, and our fans are content with it, and we have a good time, every single time.

Exodus - Steve Souza

I’ll talk to you about some of your shows coming up in Florida. I am a little bit curious about that, just because I always see you in the California area, where it just sells out every night, and I know you guys have die-hard fans everywhere, but I just kind of wonder, just touring, and touring, and touring, the vibes have got to be unique everywhere you go.

You have to love to do it, number one. You just have to love to do it. We’re flying out to Florida, because we haven’t played in Tampa or Fort Lauderdale in years, and I know that the Tampa show is already sold out. I don’t know about the Fort Lauderdale show. We haven’t been there in a while, so I’ll let you know we are playing at the Regency with Killswitch [Engage] and Unearth on September 1st, and we’ll be three days there and then it will be San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. That’s the only thing we are doing in California, I think, this year.

I think, Gary is going to be with us on those, because actually we’ve been using this other guitar player Craig, for a lot of shows, and he’s [Gary Holt] been so busy with Slayer, but I think Gary is going to be on those shows.

You say that you guys never stray from the formula. and that formula works, but that it tells everybody that they can do it, too. Even the most introverted person, including myself… When they see guys go up on stage, they’re like, “Yeah. They just do it, because it’s who they are. It’s in their blood.” Anyone can just get up there, and transform into the beast that they were made to be. That’s kind of how I look at it.

Great. I try to come off like that. When I sing for the crowd, or I sing for fans, I don’t think above them, I think with them. I think that carries volume. Anyone can do this, you just got to want to do it. I live this. I love heavy metal. I’ve always loved heavy metal. I will always be a lover of heavy metal, so to get to play this type of music that I incorporate, invent, bring out… In the beginning, when we were all doing this, it’s a dream come true, basically. To be fifty-two years old and still be able to have fans that want to talk to me. Press wants to talk to me. Fans come and see my band. I’m very fortunate. We are all very fortunate to keep doing this on the level that we get to do that, and that so many people just revel in us, and say, “Your influences. We love your music. It’s great. It brings me through this time,” or “It’s brought me through a certain time.” It’s what I love, and when I need to get aggression out – so all of those things are all positive for us. That’s the reason why we keep doing it.

So many people have stories like this, but for me, having a disability – I have cerebral palsy, where I pretty much have to jerk all the time and jump up and down – in any other context other than a mosh pit, people are just going to be like, “Okay. There he goes again,” or “Why you doing that?” When I’m at a metal show everyone’s doing it and it’s not anything to be scorned.

Go watch Bad Company. Go watch Journey, Styx… great bands. Awesome, but to watch their crowd they’re just standing in one place, maybe moving. Our crowd becomes as much of a show as the band, and when you are there and you want to shake your head, whatever way, nobody is looking at you any different, because it’s what everybody else is doing, as well. We also don’t discriminate, either. Metal heads love, you know what I mean? Awesome.

In my experience if there is discrimination, or there’s shitty words, they get dealt with quick.

Yeah, I haven’t really – being in the business –  run across it, but especially in the last so many years. That’s dead… that was back in the day with the hair and the skin, all that kind of stuff. Now, everybody works together… Unity. If I see somebody in the crowd in a chair, you know what I mean? I always make sure that they bring that person up on stage, or we make sure that we take care of that person, I mean in a wheelchair, or somebody like that.

I just had a little girl, she’s probably about twenty-two or twenty-three years old and she’s a big Exodus fan, she had some type of nervous system disease where she was in a wheelchair and I made sure, I called her out between every song, she said, “This is amazing,” after the gig I went up and went out with her, and took pictures, and gave her some swag, and told her, “You keep coming to these shows,” she’s all, “It’s my favorite kind of music,” and her uncle that took her there came to me and said, “You just made her world, dude.” I keep saying they make my world, I come in here banging in the crowd, even though she cannot walk, she made the attempt to come here and see Exodus, to see one of her favorite bands, and I was flattered by that.

This is what we are supposed to do. This is what we do. If we have people like you all around the world that support us, we are very fortunate to have that. Like I said, last week, that other forms of celebrity or entertainment maybe get a thirty-one-year run, where they still have fans. They come and see us, our fans in rock and roll are very, very, very, very loyal to us, like yourself. For that we owe them for that. That’s why we’ll constantly, always be coming up with new music and you’ll always see us out there on tour. It’s part of our lives and we would be empty, if we didn’t have it, as well. It works both ways, my friend.

Exodus

Photo: ©Bruce Getty

I’ve always felt very connected to you guys, and this is the kind of music that just starts revolutions and moves the world, no matter who you are, and I appreciate that you guys are still at it.

Thank you for saying that. I appreciate that. We’re going to keep that. That is never going to get any less, it will always get more. People ask me all the time, “Where do you get all your ideas to write about?” I’m like, “Really? Just pick up a fucking newspaper.” There’s something, dude I could write a record on every newspaper alone. Are you kidding me? There’s so much subject matter for a band, like a thrash metal band, especially, that’s very religious, conscious, and social conscious, and politically conscious. I think that works for both sides.

One other thing that I’m going to say and reiterate is that, again, you guys have shown me that I can do this, whether it be writing about music with respect, or starting my own band, or just allowing myself to love this world, it’s possible. I know that every day, so thank you.

I try to tell people that it takes a journalist, it takes managers, the tour guys, the guys who make the posters, the guys who print the tickets, the guys who do security, it’s not just the band. It’s everybody’s full effort to do it all together, and you know you don’t necessarily have to be in the band to be the part or be a piece of the business. And if I don’t have guys like you, to speak to, then I have no outlet anywhere. It all works together. It all goes hand and hand. We all need each other for it to survive.

That gives me some perspective. It’s like, as long as I am in the music world, and I’m doing what I love, the sky isn’t going to fall.

It’s the truth. I always thought, “well, you always have to be in the band,” and I’m very fortunate to be one of the guys in the band, but now that I’ve been in the business for so many years, there’s so many more important people that it takes to get to move it on, and I think that is why I acknowledge everybody. I acknowledge the press guys. The radio guys. The guys who write the blogs. The guys who have their own webzine. Any of those types of things. Any of the big magazines. Any of the press, over there. Anybody taking pictures. Anybody that paints an album cover. Anybody that is selling the tickets. It’s all relevant to each other, and it all works together. If you are a part of that, then you are a part of this. You know what I mean? We welcome that with open arms.

I hope that many other people can use what we’ve been talking about here and take inspiration from it.

Stay positive, my friend. Always positive. People try to drag metal through the… Metal is the only true form of rebellious rock and roll left, in my eyes. There’s a lost rebel. You know when Elvis used to shake his leg, and do all those things that they couldn’t even put a camera on? Well, metal is the same way. Metal is still, in society’s eyes, offensive. That’s good, because I want to be offensive. I don’t care that I’m fifty-two, I still got a lot of pissed-off anger in me, and rock and roll still flows through me hard.

Even if other people don’t like metal music, they still respect you for being so dedicated to it.

They do. Because you cannot fool a real metalhead, you just cannot. Metalheads know, they know their bands. You don’t try to bullshit them. If you are not giving them your all, they’ll know it because they’re the real deal. I’ve always said that. You are not going to fool these guys.


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