Exodus: Something In The Water.... Or The Weed

"I joined the band on a Friday, the world found out on the Sunday and by Wednesday I was in the studio".

Whilst Australians were all preparing for umbrella drinks, Christmas hams and the annual blood bath at the mall Exodus wrapped up a string of shows on the west coast of the USA during December of 2014 and have been taking advantage of sweet, sweet home life right before they tear up the road once again in support of their latest release Blood In, Blood Out.

Blood In Blood Out marks the 10th studio release by the Bay Area legends, featuring the rather rapid return of former vocalist Steve Souza. Metal As Fuck were advised that the first point of call for the band in 2015 will be Australia at the annual Soundwave Festival. The general consensus on Exodus’ announcement for the festival has been the transformation of grown men to fourteen year old fan girls, and rightly so. As we caught up with Steve amidst his Christmas holiday break we discussed his whirlwind return, the superiority of weed in San Francisco and the three stages of a metal heads career....

“We’re glad everyone is excited to see us at Soundwave because we are very excited to play” Souza exclaims. The last time Exodus were in Australia I wasn’t back in the band so I can confirm that the band will be playing a lot of the old catalogue and have it sound exactly like they were written and recorded” he adds. “It will be a bevy of Exodus!”

The band’s latest release Blood In, Blood Out is your first record back with the band after a 10 year hiatus, how does it feel to be back? “It is exciting; everything is getting right back into form”. Reviewers are eating the album up and have almost unreservedly welcomed Steve’s return. Immeasurable is the word that comes to mind when describing Steve’s zeal to hit the studio. That and rapid, very, very rapid. “It all happened so quick, I didn’t have much time to think about it, I joined the band on a Friday, the world found out on the Sunday and by Wednesday I was in the studio recording BIBO so I had no time to revel in it at all. I had to learn lyrics, learn songs, it was intense. I had a good time though, I like recording, creating a final product is the ultimate satisfaction for a musician”.

Over the past thirty years, Exodus has seen a number of line-up changes and to the significance of the album title it has been best explained as: You give your blood to get in this band and you give your blood to get out of this band. “It’s just ironic that the name of the album coincided with my return but it wasn’t meant to, it just happened” Steve professes. 

The Bay Area Thrash scene; the longest running consecutive genre, in metal, face it – what has it been that has kept it so strong for so long? “I dunno, is it the water? It must be in the water.... and in the weed; I’m going to blame it on the weed. We have some of the best weed; it just helps you focus, which sounds good to me. Seriously though, all the bands that represent this genre are all still hungry for this and they’re all still bringing out fantastic music and we have always supported each other. If you look at it, we’re all intertwined with one another, check out the time lines. Our history is very solid”. Exodus as like many thrash metal bands have a large demographic of fans, spanning over several generations, which is a massive feat in itself, so where would you place Exodus in the history books of metal? “You have to put Exodus and thrash bands alike into the thrash legends category, it was described to us like this; there are three categories; rock stars, has beens, legends. So we’ve done the rock star, we’ve done the ‘has been’ and now we’re legends”. [Laughs]

A few years ago I was discussing the ‘Big 4’ with Eric Peterson [Testament] which will forever be a question asked of both bands; I’m all for the Big 6, so in your opinion, why not the Big 6? “How hard is it to make a Big 6?! But seriously the fact that we are all still relevant, we couldn’t give a shit about the big 4. The Big 4 initially were named during a very small window of time, between the years of 1985 to 1991 so yeah if you take that period and the record sales of those bands during that period then yeah they were the four biggest bands out there at the time”.

A little more into your history Steve, you had left Exodus in 2004, so what was the catalyst behind your decision to return and was it easy enough for you to fall back into your groove? “Well, the timing was right. Back in 2004 I had a little kid, I was trying to support a family, now I don’t have any ties, my kids are grown, I’m no longer married, I have no distractions anymore. Back in 2004 I had to put my family first. Right now I have an amazing girlfriend who supports me and loves the business, so having a great support system is essential.  Yeah.... I’m already grooving. Its Exodus, I know the MO, I know the drill”.

Gary Holt has had a large role in Slayer for the past few years; are you able to comment if that has had any effect on Exodus at all? “I think if anything it has helped the band, Slayer creates a whole other audience for us”. It’s not uncommon to head to a Slayer concert and 50% of fans are there to see Gary Holt alone, I’ll admit it, I’ve done it. “That wouldn’t surprise me. He is an amazing guitar player; I don’t think Jeff Hanneman [Slayer] would have picked him personally if he wasn’t the real deal. I’ve known Gary Holt on and off for the past thirty years and I can guarantee that he is the real fucking deal”.

In regards to touring, I know you mentioned you’ve just wrapped one up but what are plans to further promote Blood In, Blood Out? “Everywhere.... After Australia we go everywhere. We had a band meeting today with management and it’s just going to be... *lets out an exasperated exhale* everywhere. Japan, Europe, the States... The States, Europe, Japan. Heading back to South America also, somewhere in there, so there is a lot coming and a lot going on. Soundwave is going to be brilliant and we are so keen to get back down there in Aussie land! (Puts on possibly the worst Australian accent ever)...