Delivering the Hatriot: An interview with Steve "Zetro" Souza
Interview by Evan Davits
Steve 'Zetro' Souza has been performing in thrash bands ever since taking the mic from Paul Baloff and running with it as a member of Exodus. He sang in the band from 1986 to 1993, and then returned to the band for a brief stint from 2002 to 2004. Since that time he's been a member of both Dublin Death Patrol and Tenet, so there's no shortage of chances to sing thrash.
Currently though, Zetro has launched his own band Hatriot to continue bringing his unique brand of thrash to the masses. Joining him in the band are his two sons Nicholas and Cody truly making this a family affair. HMS took some time to chat with Zetro and the events in his life that has led to the formation of Hatriot. So read on and find out what the man had to say.
HMS: What's it like playing in a band with your sons? How does it feel to be a role model, not only as a father, but as an experienced musician as well?
Zetro: It's the greatest feeling in the world. My life has come full circle now. When I left Exodus in 2004 it was because the money wasn't right and I had to provide for my kids. It was a very hard gig to walk away from, and I didn't do it the right way, but it had to be done for the sake of my children. Now they are grown and have developed as musicians, and it's an amazing feeling. They grew up around the business and have seen the good and bad. I think they respect me for what I did in the business, and obviously they have respect for me since I am their old man as well. So it's all cool, and nowhere near as complicated as people would think. My sons are my good friends and band mates, just like any other band member would be. The only difference is I'm dad as well.
HMS: What does each member of the band bring to Hatriot?
Zetro: Every member of Hatriot brings something to the table. Cody and Nick bring the Souza name, and they have a strong work ethic between the two of them. Kosta obviously writes every bit of music, and that's a huge key to our success. Justin brings his attention and enthusiasm to the table, which is something I never could get out of Miguel or even Drew. So we are a really strong team, and I am fortunate to have all these guys on board.
HMS: What provoked you guys to put this band together? Whose idea was it?
Zetro: I never had any intention of putting another band together, especially at my age, and with the state of the music business being what it is. I met Kosta by accident at a show he was playing with his old band, and I was real impressed with his playing, as well as his knowledge of thrash metal. We exchanged numbers and stayed in touch. His band fell apart and he gave me a call to see if I would sing on some demos he was working on. The material was killer and I let a lot of my peers in the business hear what we came up with. Everyone said the same thing – "you have to start a band with this guy" – so I did.
HMS: How would you describe Hatriot to a metal fan that has yet to hear your music?
Zetro: Straight up aggressive, and in your fucking face! Old school Bay Area thrash metal with a modern twist!
HMS: How would you describe your live show?
Zetro: Full blown insanity! You think we sound crazy on our records? Wait until you see us live. We will kick you in the face! We play every song back to back. There's no "hey how are you tonight" bullshit dialogue in between songs. We attack from the minute we hit the stage and never let up!
"My life has come full circle now."
HMS: Lately, there's been a sort of revival of thrash metal. Do you think thrash has always had a rightful place in metal?
Zetro: I think thrash is the working man's aggressive music. Part of the appeal of thrash is you don't have to look a certain way or dress a certain way, as long as you show up and bang your head! So I think there will always be an audience for thrash – the kids that don't fit in with the rest of the class. They want to let out aggression, and thrash metal works for them. I always say the world is getting more violent, and that means the music gets more violent as well. It's a direct reflection of what's going on in the world. So I'd say thrash metal is only going to get bigger, and will always have a rightful place in metal.
HMS: It has been documented that the name Hatriot comes from a lyric in an Exodus song called "Scar Spangled Banner." What is the meaning behind the name Hatriot?
Zetro: It did come from the Exodus song. I felt that it was a strong and aggressive sounding word, plus it tied my days in Exodus to this new band, so it was a perfect name. My definition of a "hatriot" is somebody that loves their country, but doesn't necessarily agree with the actions of the government. A hatriot questions the government. Ted Nugent and Jesse Ventura are hatriots. They obviously love their home country but battle against the government in debates and things like that.
HMS: You have released your sophomore album, Dawn of The New Centurion, only one year after your debut album, Heroes of Origin. What are your plans for Hatriot in the near future? Should fans expect a new album in 2015?
Zetro: We have definitely set the pace for releasing music. It wasn't really intentional. Not a lot of tour offers came in for "Heroes of Origin," so we wanted to stay busy. Instead of touring we hit the studio. There are several things happening this year. We go to Europe in July for a tour with Onslaught and Artillery. When we get home in August we have a local show opening for D.R.I., and we are filming that gig for a Hatriot DVD. It looks like some gigs in South America might happen in the fall, and after that we will hit the studio again to record the third album. My guess is a third Hatriot album will be out by summer of 2015.
HMS: You guys have refined your sound on Dawn of The New Centurion. Is this a fair judgement? And what goals did you have as a band before and during the recording of this album?
Zetro: We didn't go out of our way to refine our sound, it was just a natural evolution. Kosta is constantly writing riffs and we are always getting better at putting songs together. The songs on "Heroes" are the first batch that we came up with. Now we have another year of experience under our belt, so "Dawn of The New Centurion" is a bit more mature I think. The songs have more dynamics, and I think the music is heavier. Our goal going into it this was to be a solid band, so we had rehearsals three and four nights a week leading up to the recording. It paid off, and we knocked the whole record out from top to bottom in only three weeks.
HMS: Well that's all the questions I have, so thanks for chatting.
Zetro: You bet!
Evan Davits, HMS