INTERVJU: Steve “Zetro” Souza i Exodus

När Exodus spelade på Gröna Lund för en tid sedan satte vi oss ner mitt emot sångaren Zetro för att snacka om all från Trump och en eventuellt nya skiva till första konserten och hur scenen har förändrats.

My father passed in December and I tried to tell him that the ”sex, drugs and rock and roll”… sex and drugs are gone. I´m 54 years old. We don´t have groupies anymore. It doesn´t exist. We have friends that are girls that come to see us, but when we were like 22-23 on ”Bonded by blood” and Pleasures of the flesh”, we were like kids in a candy store with everything – drugs, sex, booze… with whatever. I remember the parties we used to have  and the things we used to do. It doesn´t exist anymore.


Tell me about the forthcoming album, whenever it´s coming out?

I´d have to say honestly 2019, because we have to wait for Gary (Holt) to be done and obviously his prior commitment to the announcement that has been made worldwide (final Slayer tour)… we know that the end is in sight, so we might as well let him do this, although he´s writing while he´s with them. I have heard some songs, not full lyrically or anything, but just some riffs that he´s put down on his machine at home.

I think he said, in an interview in January, that it was something altogether different. Was that what you heard?

Yeah, a little bit, but I liked it. It was really heavy. I mean, you´re always gonna have sheer violence and heaviness with Gary and I think he´s really owned his craft down now to really knowing what he does or we do. I think in the 80´s there was a period when it was like ”Bonded by blood (1985) to ”Fabulous disaster” (1989) and then ”Impact is emminent” (1990) and ”Force of habit” (1992), you know what I mean… and I think we were trying different  things then and I think trying different things doesn´t… I think we´ve been through that already, so I think we stay with what Exodus does.

What´s the plan for the band right now? You´re just gonna keep on touring for the rest of the year?

Yeah, we´ll just tour. We´ll pick up a tour here and there. A band at our point in time, we don´t necessarilly need a new record to tour. We´ve been around so many years, we can play songs and stuff, you know… people… if you like Exodus, you´re gonna come to the show and they´re not gonna go ”Well, they don´t have a new record out right now, so I´m gonna wait till they do and then come see them.” That´s not really how our fanbase works so we´ll just continue to do that. I don´t know the scheduling, but I would assume next year at this time, probably that tour (Slayer) is going to be really winding down to its end. When I first heard, like everybody else, I assumed it´s gonna take a year and a half to do, so I´m sure that they´re… but he´s (Gary) also started to focus back over here again as far as what´s going on musically and business and what we´re going to do for the future, you know.

Slayer coming to an end. Do you see the same thing for Exodus in the future?

I don´t. I really don´t. From what I understand, they don´t wanna do it anymore. I´m not at that point and I still wanna do this. This is what I am and this is what I do. It´s not like we can afford to just stop working and I think Gary´s in the same position too. We have to work. This is our job and we have to work, so we´ll continue and I don´t see me getting… I remember it was like last year we were having this conversation and it came up ”Well, how long more can we do this?” and I was like ”Well, I got all you guys replaced and it can be Zetro.” and there´d be guys in the crowd going ”So who´s the original member?” ”I think the singer´s the only guy left.” It´ll be one of those kinda deals and it would still be Exodus. That´s my mindset anyway. I have two sons that play in a thrash metal band so I´ve got reserves. You know what I mean? I´m ready!(laughs)

Lyric wise and so on, the stuff that´s happened in the US and in the world the last couple of years, there´s gotta be plenty of stuff to pick from?

Anything about the world in general. Thrash metal lyrics have always been very socially aware, so I think that will always continue. We´re intrigued by the dark side of things, which is most heavy metal, but we´re not afraid to denounce religion or denounce political figures who are not right or not doing whatever. Honestly, I support the president and honestly, I´m an American and I support America. What´s funny is that I see a lot of people that… that are not a lot of people, well, obviously he got voted in, but there´s a lot of people that are really like ”Wow, how did this guy… and his our president?” Do you know the unemployment is the lowest it´s ever been?

I know.

And who do you thank that about? Most of the presidents since I´ve been alive, a lot of their spiel to the country is ”Economics will get better!” and economics are the best they´ve ever been, so what are you trying to say? ”Obama did that?”, you know what I mean? I don´t think so. There was a recession under Obama and now the country is prospering and I think that even in other countries you never had a… and I won´t call him a politician because he´s not necessarilly a politician… you´d have a leader that would tweet what he thinks or what he says about people. He´s not afraid to jab at people who jab at him, to whereas before it was don´t tell, no hear and I like that. It´s more of a person to me. That´s how people really react, you know and I think a lot of us in the country, especially that are actually in support of him… because our band is divided on that, two of us are, two of us aren´t. But I think that if you look at things… he went to North Korea… North Korea didn´t come here and he went there and look, we´re even shaking the hand of that man and that man is crazy. That man is just full of dillusions and his country is like… they show all these extravagant parades and stuff and their soldiers can barely eat. They just don´t have the resources and for him to make that move and make it alright, you know. There´s definitely a lot of good, mostly, that he´s done. Not everybody´s perfect and not everybody´s gonna do everything that you like. There are some things that he´s done where I was like ”Eehhh…”, but I don´t havet hat pressure. I´m not in that position.


I´m not a fan, but it makes for an interesting world, that´s for sure.

 Sure and the world´s getting more and more interesting. Would you rather have the guy that doesn´t say anything and still fucks his secretary, you know what I mean? It´s the same thing, but he´s nice to your face.

Do you have heated arguments in the band?

I don´t argue politics or religion. My feel is what I feel. I don´t sit there and try to play point counter. Honestly, anybody who doesn´t really know… you or me don´t really know what goes on there so how can we even make… off of the things he´s said and because he´s womanized and said like that, so… JFK fucked Marilyn Monroe…

And Robert Kennedy too.

 He did and in fact, she saw him… was one of the last people she saw before she died, so what does that say about anything? They were both married men, but they´re cool, that´s ok, you what I mean. I guess whatever time you´re talking about and whatever level… Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, they were great men that used to be revered and Bill Cosby was America´s dad, dude! You don´t even know. He was like America´s fucking dad and he´s gonna do time. He´s going to jail and they´re unhappy with his ass.

That´s another thing with those people that are often… I remember Eddie Murphy making fun of Bill Cosby when Eddie cursed and Bill called him up and said ”You can´t say that on TV!” and then it turns out that this American dad is just the most despicable human being.

Sure. It did happen a lot and still does. . I had an aunt who was a performer and a singer. She really never got major, but she opened for like Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen and she knew those people in the late 50´s and 60´s and I said to her one time ”Auntie, how come you never got to be a big star?” and she said ”It was all about who I didn´t wanna sleep with.” I used to think about that and it´s really true. I´m sure it´s toned down now because… and Harvey Weinstein, he´s going to jail too. People are doing time out of this, but I think now that society is trying to be politically correct in every fashion, form in treating women… and #metoo… so I think that everybody needs to… it´s more aware now and if you´re in that type of form or decorum, you need to act accordingly. You don´t see that many musicians going off anymore really. You don´t see it happen anymore, towards like ”Ah, these guys tore up the dressing room and they´re just crazy and they´re infamous on the road.” That doesn´t exist anymore. My father passed in December and I tried to tell him that the ”sex, drugs and rock and roll”… sex and drugs are gone. I´m 54 years old. We don´t have groupies anymore. It doesn´t exist. We have friends that are girls that come to see us, but when we were like 22-23 on ”Bonded by blood” and Pleasures of the flesh”, we were like kids in a candy store with everything – drugs, sex, booze… with whatever. I remember the parties we used to have  and the things we used to do. It doesn´t exist anymore.

Do you have regrets about stuff you did?

No, I don´t regret anything at all. It is what it is. I´m still here so I´m doing good.

Do you agree with Gary about ”killing the Kardashians”?

Eehhh, I don´t even know if Gary wants the Kardashians killed?

I know, but it´s a fun thing. I totally understand him about the whole thing.

I get it too. These people are celebrities that have done nothing to become a celbrity. My point is that they have no talent. All they do is go around and go shopping and fight with each other and have arguments and make millions of dollars. It´s unbelievable. I´m not jealous of that, I just think that… I don´t care for America´s Got Talent or The Voice or American Idol. I think that´s cheating and most of those artists don´t really do much after that. Very few… Kelly (Clarkson) I think, is successful and Carrie Underwood. They´re about the only two that I can think that are really successful from being on that show. They made a lot about that kid Clay (Aiken), you don´t see him anymore. I´m sure he plays places and does ok. Daughtry is about as big as we are. He plays the same places. I´ll be in the States touring and I play some place and Daughtry will be there the next week.

Going back. Do you remember the first time you heard what we would call hard rock or metal?

My father´s an old school biker and I listened to the FM stuff. I was 8 years old and for my birthday I had him buy me Led Zeppelin ”IV” on 8-track. I remember it was pink. Here I am, I´m 8 years old and everybody else is listening to The Jackson 5, The Osmonds and all the pop stuff and here´s Sousa who listens to Black Sabbath and the Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes. I listened to what was harder.

Is that when it all started for you?

I guess that´s where it all started for me. For me, music was always something…when you see kids that are adults now, that I grew up with, they´ll all tell you ”We knew Souza was gonna be a rockstar. We knew it.” I´ll see somebody that I haven´t seen in maybe 10, 20, 30 years and ”they´ll be like ”Oh my God Steven, you´re a rockstar?” and it´s like ”Well, in my business that´s a bad word.” I´m a professional musician. If you´d were to say ”Am I a rockstar?”… if you listen to heavy metal, probably. I don´t really consider myself that famous. I walked through here today and other than the metal kids, they didn´t know who I was. To me, if you walk into fucking Taco Bell and everybody turns their head, you´re famous. I´m not famous. Am i famous for what I do for a living? Yeah, I guess so, for heavy metal I am.

What was the first metal show you ever saw?

A promotor in the Bay Area, Bill Graham, very famous, he used to have festival concerts every year in Oakland, Day on the green. You´d see AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and Van Halen on one show. On one fucking show. I saw Bon Scott five times. I was very fortuante. On ”Highway to hell” they played two nights at the Oakland Auditorium and I had ticktes to see them both nights there. Then they played two times at Day on the green.

When was the first time you saw Van Halen?

With Black Sabbath in 1978. They were the headliner. They played the Oakland Coliseum. All my money went to concert ticktes. I worked in restaurants and delivered newspapers and all of my money was either to buy a record or I would spend my money on a concert ticket. We toured with Black Sabbath in 1992 for ”Dehumanizer” and it was the only place on the tour where they had a picture of us with Black Sabbath on the same poster, so I actually took it and I had everyone of them sign it to me and it´s on my wall. It cost $13.25 that concert. Try that today!

What do you remember about Van Halen. They alledgedly blew them Black Sabbath off the satge on that tour.

Well, they did because Sabbath was so fucked up all the time. Of all the times I´ve seen Black sabbath, that was probably the worst. Next time I saw Black Sabbath was in 1980 on the Day on the green with Dio. Ozzy played day on the green in 1991, but the next night he played at the Santa Cruz Pacific Auditorium and Motörhead was his opener. It was Ozzy and Motörhead at a place that holds about 1500 people. It was a really great gig.

Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen