Interview for Steve Souza of Hatriot – May 18, 2012
By Trystan MacDonald
Veteran metal vocalist Steve Zetro Souza of such illustrious bands as Exodus, Legacy, and Tenet, has formed a new thrash entity by the name of Hatriot, which takes its musical influence from the aggressive 80’s, when thrash was fast and furious and carried a sense of style. Having already released a self-titled EP and toured in support of Testament, Hatriot is in the process of developing a new album with an expected completion in August and release to follow, towards the end of 2012/early 2013. In the meantime, Souza took time out of his schedule to answer some questions for Lithium Magazine and speak about all things Hatriot.
Trystan: Given your life long history with thrash metal, what is it about the genre that has kept you so inspired throughout the last 2 decades?
Steve: I would say just being one of the pioneers and one of the innovators of it. It was in my blood back then and it is in my blood now. To me, back in the day, it was like a cross between the hard rock bands and punk bands. I loved the aggression of it back then and that has not left me to this day. I don’t ever see myself not doing thrash metal.
Trystan: With your newest band you’ve clearly gone back to the roots of 1980s Bay Area thrash metal. What made you decide to return to that very raw sound?
Steve: I had done other things with Dublin Death Patrol and Tenet. Those bands are not traditional thrash. Hatriot is a definite return to that classic sound of Exodus and Legacy. This is definitely my signature sound. I hear people say all the time, “Oh, I wish you were back in Exodus.” Well, this is the next best thing because it is in the same vein. Now fans get to enjoy two bands that have similar elements to their sound.
Trystan: Throughout your musical career has there ever been anything that you felt you haven’t achieved with a band? If so, do you hope to achieve that with, Hatriot?
Steve: Well, you hear people say “world domination” and wanting to be the biggest rock star in the world. I think for me it’s just continuing to be able to do this style 30 years later and people still wanting to hear what I do. Of course it would be great to be a “bigger” star or whatever, but I think for me, just being able to continue being the entity that I am in thrash is a big achievement. I’d love for Hatriot to have the status of some of my previous bands, but that’s not necessarily what I’m looking for. I just want to be given the chance to get up there and kick ass.
Trystan: For all the thrash metal fans out there that have yet to hear Hatriot, how would you describe the band’s sound and what can we (the fans) expect from the band live?
Steve: Hatriot takes the classic thrash sound that people are familiar with, to the next level. It is a continuation of where I left off with Exodus in the “Tempo of the Damned” era. The guys in the band are much younger, so they incorporate a lot of modern elements, such as blast beats, into the sound. I think these guys are some of the best players I’ve worked with; live we are a machine. The fact that the guys in the band are real young adds to the aggression of the band live. They feel like they have something to prove at every show and they go out and kick ass.
Trystan: Of the current songs that you’ve recorded, which one do you like the most and why?
Steve: I love them all the same, but if I had to choose I would say “The Fear Within,” because it was the first one I wrote for the band. It was also the first one that caught my ear with Kosta V (guitarist) as far as him being a writer and arranger.
Trystan: What challenges do you/have you faced being a vocalist for some of the heaviest thrash metal bands to exist?
Steve: I would say the biggest challenges would be keeping it fresh 30 years later and keeping it solid. I mean, after 30 years you can get a little tired of the same sound so you have to keep it fresh. Look at Motorhead, and I fucking love Motorhead, but who really runs out and buys the new Motorhead record on the day it comes out? Their music is great and remains consistent, which is kick ass, but you have to keep things moving forward so it doesn’t get predictable. With Hatriot I’m trying to keep the musical integrity flowing, so it’s not just something I throw out there to exploit my name. It would be easy to throw together some music and market it to the Exodus fans for a quick cash grab, but that’s not what I want to do with Hatriot. This band will stand on its own merit and will be solid and kick ass.
Trystan: Thrash metal has always been a major influence on modern metal bands, yet very few modern bands try to be ‘just’ thrash metal. Why do you think that thrash metal hasn’t had the same amount of growth as other metal genres in the last decade?
Steve: Well, I do think that there has been a good amount of growth with thrash. The roots of black and death metal are definitely linked to thrash. The thing with thrash is it is a very loyal genre. There are a ton of thrash bands out there, but when people refer to thrash they think of the “Big 4” concept. I think that’s really cool because it makes thrash metal more of a fraternal thing. It’s not about the quantity of thrash bands, but the quality. I think thrash bands have earned a lot of respect from the fans and from other metal genres. There are only so many bands that are given the chance to fly the flag for pure thrash metal, and I’m glad to be a part of that.
Trystan: Could you give us a brief history of how Hatriot came to be formed?
Steve: I met my guitarist, Kosta V, at a show and talked metal with him for a few hours. He knew all about me and all about the thrash genre, which was amazing considering he was so young. When I heard him play guitar I knew I wanted to be in a band with him. The kid is a virtuoso, a brilliant songwriter and arranger. He is right up there with the bigger guitarists I have worked with, like Gary Holt and Alex Skolnick. I basically built the band around his skills.
Trystan: With the departure from Exodus and the creation of Hatriot, would it be correct to say that your history with Exodus is over? Do you see yourself collaborating and/or returning to Exodus given the band’s lengthy history of lineup changes?
Steve: I’m not the type of person that will shut out any avenue for any reason whatsoever. I can’t say that “it is over” because I’m not dead yet. In 5 or 10 years down the road, who knows what can happen? I will say that I am in good graces with the guys in Exodus, and I would be open to working again down the road. They have a solid band right now, and Rob Dukes has been their singer for over 7 years now, so I think they have it together. I am 100% committed to putting Hatriot on the map right now. That is my main focus, but I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t say what will happen down the road, but I will say that I don’t burn bridges or shut out opportunities. You just never know!
Trystan: When can we expect Hatriot’s debut album to be released? What can we expect from it and will there be a North American tour to support it?
Steve: We hope to have the full record finished by August. Right now we’re in serious talks with two labels and we’re deciding who we’re going to go with. The album will be released at the end of the year, or in the first quarter of 2013 at the latest. Expect a pure thrash record that continues on with the sound I’m known for. There will definitely be a tour to support it. That’s part of what I’m demanding from the label. I don’t want a label just to throw the record out and ride the Exodus name to move ten thousand units or whatever. Part of my deal is the label must put us out on the road to support the album.
Trystan: On behalf of myself and Lithium Magazine, thank you for taking the time to talk with us!
Steve: Thank you for your support over all these years. See you all soon!