Lady with Steve Souza (of Hatriot, formerly of EXODUS)
Fri, 19 Jul 2013 08:55:19 +0000
Hi folks.. Today I am with Steve Souza, the ex-lead singer for the legendary thrash metal band Exodus. We talked about his new band, Hatriot and their new album, ‘Heroes of Origin’.
Lady Obscure: Hi Steve, first of all, it’s an honour, thank you for taking the time. Secondly, congratulations on the album, Heroes of Origin – that’s just pure SF Bay area thrash and this is brilliant if you ask me! I can hear a bit of modernization – mostly the sound engineering aspects – and of course, the younger generation’s styles seep through. I am saying “a bit” though as the album naturally feels very old school. Is this what happened here? Was this your goal to be as old school as reasonably possible? Or were the song-writing and the instrumentalist styles came together and produce this feel organically?
Steve Souza: It was a very organic thing. I got real lucky when I met my guitarist and writing partner, Kosta Varvatakis. He writes and arranges all the music and riffs for Hatriot, and fortunately for me, Kosta writes in the old school thrash metal vein. He’s only in his early twenties, but he is one of the best in the business. The guy is just amazing. He learned to play by mimicking the old thrash bands from back in the day, so he naturally comes up with music that fits my voice and my lyrical approach. It’s just the perfect match. The younger generation sound comes from the other guys in the band. They are all very young and have a whole other set of influences, such as death metal and black metal, and you will hear that in the drumming and in the riffing. It is very extreme and aggressive. We used Juan Urteaga as a producer and engineer for the record, and he is the local studio wizard here in the Bay. I think he captured our raw sound and refined it into what you hear on the album.
Lady : Nick and Cody are playing in Hatriot and the other two members are their peers age wise, right? Does having one generation junior to yourself make it easier? They are brilliant musicians in their own rights and the synergy is clear; the band has a direction and professionalism that’s quite easy to spot. What I am trying to infer is whether you are “coaching” them in the fine art of SF Bay Area thrash! How does the Hatriot family work?
Steve : I definitely coach them. Every band practice is a lesson. The cool thing is Hatriot is avoiding a lot of the mistakes that young bands make simply because of my experience and my contacts in the business. We are able to bypass a lot of the bullshit that startup bands go through. So that’s really beneficial to getting this band off the ground. As far as the youth of the band, it brings in a whole new energy. I could have picked players from back in the day and done a super group thing, but that’s not where my heart was at. I didn’t want name players. The world needs new rock stars for a new generation. The thing is they all tried out for their spot in the band. I don’t just let people into the band. You have to fucking earn it! Cody and Nick grew up around the business and they know what it takes to make it work. They saw the good and bad sides of the industry by watching me go through it all. I bought them their first instruments when they were little kids and have watched them grow into great players. It’s amazing. We get along great and it’s not like a father and son relationship onstage. They are my friends and band mates. We do talk about band stuff a lot when we are at family functions and things like that, so there’s not a lot of separation between being dad and being band mates, but somehow it works. Both of my guitarists are in their early twenties as well, so they all get along real well and I’m the old man steering the ship. That’s basically how it works!
Lady : I don’t know, I have mixed feelings about this – working with a living legend as the front-man, I would be either very nervous or very excited all the time! How is that for your band? It’d be better to ask them of course but I’d love to hear how you see this?
Steve : Well, my sons view me as dad and not a living legend, but the other two may have been intimidated at first. Now we are all used to each other and know each other’s personalities and such, so it’s just business. The thing is I don’t fuck around. I’m extremely serious about music. It’s not a hobby. I have a lot to prove and a short amount of time to prove it in. These guys all know to bring their best every time. We are not there to have fun. We are there to make killer heavy metal. As long as everyone knows that then I don’t have to become difficult. Every now and then I have to crack the whip, but for the most part everyone has a strong work ethic.
Lady : Speaking of the name of the band – it is a strong, heavy metal name. So, I assumed you chose the name to be an indication of the feel of the band; you know, strong, heavy, powerful… Or is there a political theme or stance you are thinking for the band? The imagery of the site and album, your vocals, the whole vibe is very old school in a very good way, I can’t stop asking about these things 🙂
Steve : Old school thrash is what I do. It’s what I’m known for and what I understand. There’s no reason to change or try and fit a current scene. I chose the name Hatriot because it was a word in the Exodus song ‘Scar Spangled Banner.’ The lyric in the song says “I’m no patriot, just a hatriot,” and I always thought that was a strong statement. So I took the name from an Exodus song, and the cool thing is it ties together my days with Exodus to my new band. It bridges the two. I feel like Hatriot is a continuation of what I was doing back then, so it all feels really natural to me – the look, the sound, the name – everything is old school and that’s what I’m all about.
Lady : Back to you, I have to ask. So, latest you were with Exodus was in 2004? It’s been almost a decade – so how are you guys? I mean, I know this is probably wishful thinking but some collaboration with them, maybe tour together, do a couple of songs together… Wouldn’t that be brilliant?
Steve : There was a lot of bad blood for a couple of years, but I think that is over with now. As you said, a lot of time has passed. I take full responsibility for dropping the ball on Exodus back then, and I don’t blame them for being pissed at me for so long. Time has healed the wounds though. They have been doing big business with Rob on vocals, and now of course Gary is in Slayer so Exodus has taken on a lesser role for him. To get back to your question, yes I would love to open a show for Exodus. I think the fans would love that. I have done guest appearances at some of their local shows and it has been fun. Hopefully we will build a name with Hatriot and will get offers to do bigger tours with known thrash bands from back in the day. Exodus would be a great fan base for Hatriot to get in front of. That is for sure.
Lady: Now that the album is out, will you be touring?
Steve: We have shopped our record to all of the booking agents, and to be honest the response has been a little slower than what we had hoped. There have been a few offers come in, but we want to make sure that it is the right tour. We don’t want to play fifth on a bill in front of nobody. It has to make sense and it has to be feasible for it to happen. Of course we want to tour, but it costs money. So hopefully we will continue to build a demand by selling a lot of copies of the album, and we will see where things go from there. I have heard that we are going to Europe in November to do some shows with Toxik. That would be cool and a lot of fun. Of course we are already working on our second album, so we will have more material to choose from in our live shows. This band is coming along nicely!
Lady: Thank you for taking the time! I wish you huge success with your album and the best with your life.
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