Belgium's Metal To Infinity recently conducted an interview with former EXODUS and current HATRIOT singer Steve "Zetro" Souza. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal To Infinity: You left LEGACY (which became TESTAMENT later on), to join EXODUS. How was it to replace Paul Baloff, who was dearly beloved by the fans? Did you have a hard time to get your own spot in EXODUS?
Zetro: Honestly, it was a big set of shoes to fill. I didn't win over the diehard EXODUS fans until a couple years after I joined. Paul had such a charisma to him. He was the ultimate definition of what a true metalhead was. I wasn't fully accepted in the eyes of the fans until we started touring for "Fabulous Disaster". At that point I was the voice of EXODUS.
Metal To Infinity: You recorded your last EXODUS album, "Tempo Of The Damned", in 2004. What happened afterwards? Why were you replaced by Rob Dukes?
Zetro: Life happened. I had been out of music, at least full-time, for ten years when I rejoined EXODUS for the "Tempo" record. At that point I had a family to support and a good-paying job back at home. It was too hard to let all that go and tour for a year at a time, so I had to make a choice, and my choice was be a family man. It's that simple. The situation could have been better. I could have done things differently. I dropped the ball on the band and they were pissed off at me for a while. I understand that and I actually agree with that. My head wasn't in the right place. I couldn't do music 100% and I let them down. Family was more important. The ironic thing is now my sons are both in HATRIOT, so I have my music and my family. Things have come full circle and I am back stronger than ever!
Metal To Infinity: Altogether you [were in] EXODUS for about eight years (1986-1992 and 2002-2004), how do you look back to those years?
Zetro: I look back on those years as being the best times of my life. What an amazing ride that was! We had no idea at the time that we were making history. We were just guys playing fast music and living in the moment. There are so many good stories. One good one happened back in 1987 in the state of Florida. We were playing an ice hockey arena and the lineup was CELTIC FROST, EXODUS and ANTHRAX. The promoter had no idea that the fans were as insane as they were. There were no seats at this venue. It was all general admission and everyone was standing. They had built a wimpy barricade to try and contain people but the crowd destroyed that thing in our first song. There was one security guard in between us and the crowd and he got smashed. His legs were broken. I had to stop the show and make the crowd back up so they could get him out of there! They hauled him to the hospital wearing an EXODUS shirt…
Metal To Infinity: What is important when you join a band? Is craftsmanship prior to personal friendship and comradeship?
Zetro: Honestly, it is a bit of both. Obviously, you have to have a certain degree of musicianship and have your chops in shape to be able to pull of the material. Friendship and comradeship is big too, because you have to be able to get along with the people in the band. Being crammed in a van with a bunch of smelly dudes is bad enough without adding a personality conflict or a bad attitude to the mix. So I need both for it to work and fortunately we have that with HATRIOT right now.
Metal To Infinity: The biggest difference between now and the EXODUS years is Internet. For some a curse, for others a blessing. What's your opinion about the Internet. Is it a handful tool for a band like HATRIOT or an open gate for downloading and ripping off new bands?
Zetro: Yes, the Internet is the big gamechanger. It has totally leveled the playing field of the music business and crippled the big record companies. They are no longer the big gate keepers. The Internet, to me, is a double-edged sword. It is a great tool for getting direct contact with your fan base and I love that aspect. The downside is there are so many bands now that the market can't handle it. I don't think there is a platform for a band to become huge anymore… not for the long term anyway. The sales are not there like in the old days and that keeps bands from being able to do a band full time. It is what it is, I guess.
Metal To Infinity: Thanks to the Internet, we were able to get in touch with the band, so it has positive sides as well. For example: spreading your music and videos is really simple and there aren't any boundaries left…
Zetro: It definitely has a positive side. There's no doubt about it. The key is to be open-minded and be willing to change your marketing and promotion strategy to fit the times. I'm fine with that. There are bands and labels out there that were big back in the day and still have it stuck in their head that you can only do things one way, and these are the people that don't last. I am good with the changes in the business. We just have to adapt and do smart business where we can. Obviously, records don't sell and pay the bills. What we can do is offset the costs in other places… make a great record for ten grand instead of half a million, tour in a van instead of a bus, etc.
Read the entire interview from Metal To Infinity.
"Blood Stained Wings" video: