Veteran San Francisco Bay Area thrashers EXODUS are forging ahead despite the departure this week of frontman Steve "Zetro" Souza.
The band, who completed a short European tour in December, made a decision to fire Souza when it became apparent that he had no intention of touring extensively with the group, a prospect that didn't sit well with EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt.
"[The whole touring aspect] was something that [Zetro] thought that he'd be able to do, and this last trip to Europe — albeit a very brief one — proved to him that he just wasn't cut out for it anymore," Holt told BLABBERMOUTH.NET. "'Cause I've always said that touring is either Disneyland or the hardest job in the world, and to me, it's still Disneyland.
"[Zetro] was miserable being away from home, and away from his family and friends. He was worried about family security and all that, which I can understand, because he's got three kids and a good job, but you know… He thinks he's got too much to lose by doing it, I've got too much to lose by not [doing it].
"His plan, what he thought we would be able to do was, do an album, hope existing EXODUS fans buy it, and [then] do virtually zero touring [to promote it]. And that's not our plan — our plan is extensive touring, and he just wasn't able to commit to that.
"[Zetro] actually made it more difficult than it had to be. All he had to do was tell us what it ended up boiling down to, and that is, he just can't do it. And had he posed it like that initially, it would have been hugs 'n' kisses, thank you, brother. But it started with just demands for money, and I'm not gonna be held hostage to anybody in my band. Like I'm gonna pay him a greater salary than… a penny more than I make? Fuck no! I think that, rather than quit, he thought he would [place more demands] on us.
"I don't know if he thought we would do it without him. But I'm not being stopped — nothing's gonna stop me right now."
EXODUS, who never considered splitting up or changing their name as a result of the latest setback, have launched a worldwide vocalist search with a view towards releasing a new studio album later in the year.
"It's hard to say what I want in a singer, because I don't wanna pigeon-hole. I know what I don't want — Geoff Tate wannabes need not apply, Ripper Owens clones need not apply," Holt explained. "But I don't wanna exclude everybody but the Phil Anselmo worshippers or the black metal people. I want someone who is brave enough to take chances."
Among the top candidates for the position is John Miller, a local Bay Area singer who had previously spent time with Holt and EXODUS drummer Tom Hunting in WARDANCE, the ill-fated mid-'90s act that recorded a four-song demo and played several live shows before splitting up. His first jam session with the group is set to take place next Tuesday (Jan. 21).
"[John] had to take some time to straighten out some issues in his life, as we all have," Gary revealed. "His demon was strong drink, and I actually talked to him, finally got hold of him and spoke to him tonight [Jan. 17], and he sounds great."
With regards to the progress of the songwriting sessions for EXODUS' next studio album, Holt said, "We've got 11 or 12 songs either finished or in various stages of completion right now. There's a little bit of everything. The last couple of songs we worked on and finished, one of them we debuted at the three festival shows we did [in Europe] — 'War Is My Shepherd' — and that's really fast. The fastest one is probably 'Tempo Of The Damned'. 'Tempo Of The Damned' and 'War Is My Shepherd' are just 100% EXODUS at its most furious. But then we've got another one that, hopefully by the time I'm done, it might clock in at under about 20 minutes, and that's this massive war dirge called 'The Way It Never Was' — it's super fucking heavy, [and] very SABBATH-like. And then we've got some mid-tempo, totally crushing shit."
Singers interested in auditioning for EXODUS are encouraged to send their CDs/demos to the following address:
10026 San Pablo
El Cerrito, CA 94530