Steve 'Zetro' Souza: Still Thrashing After All These Years

'At fifty, you're like - oh shit! I gotta get things done!'

As Metal As Fuck has celebrated 30 Years of Thrash this past month, it seems appropriate to have a chat with Mr. Toxic Waltz himself, Steve 'Zetro' Souza (Hatriot, Exodus, Dublin Death Patrol, Testament), whose band Hatriot just released their sophomore album, Dawn of the New Centurion.  A brutal 50 minute beatdown of pure thrash with modern sensibilities. 

Hello, Steve. You're two albums deep with Hatriot, how are you feeling  about it so far? 'Great! How are you feeling about it? I'm puttin out for guys like yourself. What do you think?' I think it's  great. Correct me if I'm wrong, but It seems like this album, in comparison with Heroes of  Origin, contains a little less urgency, and more of a seasoned feel to it. 'I think a good way to look at it, and I understand what you're trying to say, is Heroes of Origin is like taking the palm of your hand and putting against your nose when it starts and when it stops, you pull it away and you can breath again.' He continues, bringing it to a more sinister metaphorical level. 'It's like Heroes suddenly sticks the knife in the bottom of you and slices you all the way up until it's in your skull... where the new one is more refined. Like lethal injection -- it's more of a slow death [laughs]' 

Your last main band was Exodus and up until this point, the other bands such as Tenet and Dublin Death Patrol have felt more like projects. Hatriot definitely has the feel of a 'real'  band, no?  'It is a real band. That is exactly what I wanted... I do all those side projects, but I think I need to solidify myself, you know? So people will take Hatriot as a band, not as a side project. That's why I put this (Dawn of the New Centaurion) record out twelve months from the release of the debut. That's pretty fast. And I'll be in the studio recording the third one in Febuary 2015 -- I already have three songs written for it. We're not screwing around man, we're movin!' 

Zetro turned 50 in March, but his enthusiasm for metal hasn't waned a bit. How do you maintain that drive and hunger after all these years? Is it a natural thing? 'It's natural. I love heavy metal, I love what we do. I love this! If you were to go into my veins you would see it's not red -- it's heavy metal blood. Straight up, I love it.' He continues and it's obvious his passion for metal is genuine -- not even slightly tempered by his reaching the half-century point in life. 'I'm not like someone who says, 'well I did it as a kid and I guess because I got famous for it I can still do it'. It's not like that at all. And I can tell you right now, there's a ton of metal and thrash metal musicians that do not listen to metal at all. They do it because they're in these bands that became iconic and now, the only time they listen to metal is when they go out and play it live... and I'm not like that. When I'm in my car, I'm listening to anything that's heavy metal. It could be Iron Maiden, it could be Saxon, AC/DC, Ted Nugent, Behemoth, Municipal Waste; anything rock or metal. I've always stayed focused on that (heavy metal) because I'm still such a huge fan. That's where I get my drive and my focus.' He continues on to the topic of his age. 'Also, I just turned fifty! I look at life and go, wow. I'm really on the downslope -- when you're  forty, you treat things like the halfway point. At fifty, you're like -- oh shit! I gotta get things done!'

The talk shifts to the youthful members of his band, 'They're young and they don't know that rock stars are traditionally lazy, so I keep them very busy. Two of them are my sons and my sons know what I want and expect, because they've been dealing with that their whole lives.' Is there a different dynamic having your kids in the band vs other members? Is it easier? 'Yeah, because I can relate to them. I can motivate them in certain ways. If they were just a bass player or drummer, I would have to coddle them more. I can say, c'mon Nick (Souza) enough bullshit,  get your ass on the fucking drums -- if you need that car payment you'll have to call your mom [laughs]. Really, they've always been good kids and they both work really hard.' Are those the only kids you have? 'I have a daughter that lives with her mother.' His pride starts swelling as he talks about her 'And she is a freshmen in the women's choir at high school and they usually only let the juniors and the seniors into that. She has an amazing voice and dedication the craft. I'm very proud of her!'

Back to the album, any touring plans? 'Yeah. We've been kind of idle, but on June 2nd we'll be touring Europe with Onslaught and Artillery. And I was told we are later going to South America in September, and then back to the States with Gamma Bomb in October, then back to Europe with Municipal Waste and one other band in December.' 

We're celebrating 30 years of thrash metal, as someone who's been there from the beginning, do you ever stop, look back, and go, holy Shit! Look what we did? 'Yeah, I do. I'm not going to pretend to be naive about it. I do -- I did... do you remember back in the 90s when all the thrash bands got spit out and that Seattle sound came in, and now all those bands died of heroin so they can't ever have a reunion [laughs]? They killed metal and I always wondered if my kids would ever know what I did. It ended so quick, you know? But thrash metal is revered around the world now and it's great. I love it.' And how about this thrash revival with these new bands copying that bay area sound? 'Yeah, I'm jealous. There's this band called Hatriot, and I'm totally copying them! [laughs]' 

Finally, It seems the thing to do these days is to write a biography and after so many years I'm sure you have some good stories, so... 'I've heard that a lot. Actually, I've heard that more in the last year than any time. A lot of people have asked me to do a book, in fact I was telling a friend a story the other day and the first thing out of his mouth was 'Zetro man, you gotta write a book' [laughs]. I guess I still feel like I'm writing the story -- I'm not done yet!'