Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, November 10, 2014

Exodus Singer Steve "Zetro" Souza on Reuniting With the Band and Listening to Slayer

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 10:15 AM

click to enlarge Exodus plays the Fox Theater tomorrow, Nov. 11, with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies.
  • Exodus plays the Fox Theater tomorrow, Nov. 11, with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies.
During the early 1980s, clubs like San Francisco's On Broadway and Ruthie's Inn in Berkeley served as the filthy, beer-and-sweat soaked petri dishes that incubated the Bay Area's thrash-metal scene. The region produced numerous influential bands including Testament, Possessed, and Death Angel, but iconic East Bay crew Exodus were the first and, arguably, the most brutal of the lot.

Founded in 1980 by future Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Tom Hunting, the group would cycle through a myriad of personnel changes (including Hammett's departure to replace Dave Mustaine in 1983) before settling on the line-up led by guitarist Gary Holt that made the seminal debut Bonded By Blood. Despite label delays and lackluster production, the album remains one of the cornerstone recordings in thrash history.

Exodus would achieve even greater commercial and critical success when original singer Paul Baloff was replaced by Steve "Zetro" Souza. During the late '80s, the band enjoyed its highest charting albums with Pleasures of the Flesh and Fabulous Disaster,  becoming a staple of MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" on the popularity of the video for "Toxic Waltz." While the 1990s proved to be a challenge for the band that led to its complete dissolution twice, the past decade has been fruitful with a series of ferocious recordings and tours fronted by singer Rob Dukes.
Despite the success of those albums, Exodus surprised many this past June when they announced the return of Souza to sing on the band's latest Nuclear Blast Records effort Blood In, Blood Out. The pulverizing collection of new tracks marks a return to the band's early roots and includes "Salt the Wound," the first studio recording to feature Hammett in the band's history. All Shook Down recently spoke with Souza about reuniting with Exodus ahead of their tour with fellow metal vets Slayer (who Holt is also performing with) and Suicidal Tendencies that kicks off Tuesday night with two hometown dates at the Fox Theater in Oakland.   

The split back in 2004 was pretty acrimonious. How long did it take to get back on good terms with Gary Holt and the rest of the band? Was there a particular moment that really initiated the reconciliation?
I think the reconciliation was all about me coming back in. There were four conversations…well, there were five or six if you want to talk about all the talks with all management counting Chuck Billy and Jonny Z [Jon Zazula, Megaforce Records founder] and Maria [Ferraro, Adrenaline PR CEO, who formed Breaking Bands Management with Billy and Zazula]. We all had talks individually and we talked about the things that I was definitely a part of. And I’ll be the first one to say I wasn’t the easiest person to deal with then.

There were a lot of other things going on. People know because I’ve said a million times there there was family and other crap that we just couldn’t get in control of in our lives. So when I left it was not too amicable. Of course, we’re not going to deny it. For the last ten years, there’s been a lot of mudslinging going back and forth. I’m sure it created some great reading for the fans [laughs].

As we look at it now, we’re all older. Gary and I are both 50. The things that happened in the past, you can’t change them. Exodus has always been a brotherhood and a family, and I’m kind of like the uncle who pissed somebody off and was never invited to Thanksgiving. Now I’m back invited to Christmas and Thanksgiving again.

What was you first reaction when you heard new material? How long before the reunion announcement and actually recording the vocals did you get to hear it?
This is how it went. I’ll give you the chronological thread of events. I had a meeting with management on a Wednesday at about 6 o’clock that ended at about 10:30 that night. I took the songs and listened to them all day Thursday. Then I went in and demoed a couple of them for the band, because it was like an audition. So I did “BTK” and “Black 13” at 5 o’clock Thursday.

The next day I was called by management and told that everyone in the band really liked it. Saturday I was told that it looked like the band wanted me back in and that we should have the talk. Those talks all went down and Sunday I was told the announcement was going to be made that day and that Wednesday I started recording.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Dave Pehling


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"