Q&A: Exodus Vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza on his Horror FandomBooks/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Mars Homeworld
Let’s get one thing straight right now: Steve “Zetro” Souza, vocalist for thrash heavyweight band Exodus, loves horror!
No, seriously; he loves horror! From the instant Zetro was on the phone, he was in a furious verbal frenzy, no doubt sharpened through years of belting out lyrics at break neck speed, that seemed to perpetually leave him almost breathless as he expounded upon his deep, life-long obsession with the horror genre in all it’s guises; most notably: horror films. FANGORIA spoke to the thrash rock pioneer recently, digging deeper into his love for blood and guts…
FANGORIA: Thanks for talking to FANGORIA today.
STEVE “ZETRO” SOUZA: Oh dude! I am so stoked for this interview. I grew up reading Famous Monsters and FANGORIA! I had a subscription for year and years; I have tons of back issues stashed away. This is so cool.
FANGORIA: Glad to hear it, man. Let’s talk about your first memories of horror. I know you grew up in the Bay Area, so you must be a child of Bob Wilkin’s CREATURE FEATURES, am I right?
ZETRO: Oh yeah, for sure! Man, I sent in letters to Bob, and I’d pester him all the time; following him around, asking him questions. He was such a kind, gentle guy… he always took time to talk with the fans. I owe him in a big, big way for introducing me to so much great stuff. The monster films, the sci-fi and the weird interviews he’d have with people who came to town were classicFANGORIA: Same here. It’s interesting; I recently interviewed Doyle from Misfits and Scott Ian from Anthrax, and they are both from the East Coast. They’re big horror fans too, and grew up on their horror host, but out there, the Horror shows aired in the afternoon. To a kid who grew up with CREATURE FEATURES playing on the tv as the only light source in a dark room at 11 p.m., it seems kinda weird to imagine horror films being played in the daylight.
ZETRO: Yeah, that’s kinda odd. I mean, I totally would sit there going between the tv screen and peeking out the window into the night. The dark is such a big memory of those times. I never missed CREATURE FEATURES when I was growing up. KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS with William Shatner in it, GODZILLA, all the Christopher Lee DRACULA films; those were awesome. I think Dracula is the ultimate monster; he looks like a regular person but he’s deeply powerful, ancient and evil.
All the Universal Monsters are rock stars as far as I am concerned: THE WOLFMAN, THE MUMMY,THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE INVISIBLE MAN, FRANKENSTEIN! One after the other; just amazing creatures with depth and a history to them. They were real characters as well as monsters. You really were drawn into the story of their existence; from feeling sympathy for Frankenstein’s Monster to watching the Invisible Man go crazy from his serum. Those older films would tell a great story as well as deliver the scares.
FANGORIA: So have you passed this old-school passion on to your kids?
ZETRO: Absolutely. My 14 year old daughter is all about the horror movies. She’s like “Bring it…” so, we watch alot of stuff together. My sons are more into music, so they’re not such film fans. But my girl is so into it. We’ve gone to conventions together and all that. She loves it.
FANGORIA: Speaking of conventions, Exodus performed at Kirk Hammett’s Fear FestEVIL after-party event recently. Of course, everyone knows Kirk was in the original Exodus line-up before joining Metallica, so you guys have some history there as well. For a horror fan such as yourself; it must have been quite awesome to see Kirk’s collection up close and personal.
ZETRO: That show was great; a lot of fun to be back onstage with the band again. And Kirk’s event was awesome in general. I mean Kirk is a huge horror fan, and it’s great that he’s not just hoarding this amazing collection away somewhere. He’s released that book, and he’s taking the collection out on the road for others to see. It’s very, very cool.
He has some remarkable stuff in his collection; I mean it probably doesn’t hurt to have a Metallica paycheck to work with! [laughs] But, he was into all this stuff waaaaay back when; before he had any money, he was still all over the horror toys, comics, etc.
FANGORIA: As you mentioned, You’re back singing with the band again. It’s been over a decade that you were away. How is the situation progressing?
ZETRO: It’s great. Worked out perfectly, and the band had an album basically ready to go. Gary [Holt, Exodus co-founder] writes alot of the lyrics, and they’re seriously messed up. He’s always had a passion for dark subject matter, and he’s as big a horror fan as I am in his own way. The new Exodus album is full of horrifying imagery and really dark stuff. Serial killers, human organ trafficking, beheadings; all the craziness that is surrounding us in the real world these days.
The track “Body Harvest” is based on real events. You read about these horrible situations where someone wakes up in a bathtub full of ice and there is a letter next to them saying something like “You have had your spleen removed; get to a hospital” and they’re totally screwed. I mean, that shit actually happens. It’s a crazy, fucked-up world out there. So, the timing was correct for us to join up again. I still have my other band that I do with my two sons, Hatriot, and that band will have a new album out next year for sure. I’ll be busy.
FANGORIA: How do you feel about current trends in horror films?
ZETRO: It’s like a love/hate thing with me. I love that new horror films are still being made, and there are really solid films that do happen, but at least 50% of the newer things I’ve seen are really bad. They just lack any sort of original ideas. Some of them have been good, and original… or at least an original take on an old idea.
It’s like with re-makes: Most are pretty awful; but there are some that I’ve enjoyed alot. The recent WOLFMAN film; that had a fantastic look. The plot was a little wacked, but it had great actors, great SFX, and I was all in.
I love the old stuff because I grew up on it, like DARK SHADOWS; I grew up watching it. On tour, I will binge watch a half dozen episodes in a row in-between our shows. It makes the long distances and the time pass way more quickly. I enjoyed the Tim Burton version of DARK SHADOWS too; I know many people didn’t, but I thought it had a cool feel and visually it was fantastic.
But you just can’t compete with the stuff from the ‘70s and ‘80s as far as I’m concerned. The atmosphere and vibes are so much creepier. I mean THE EXORCIST is still a very scary film. Linda Blair spouting all manner of blasphemies while violating herself with a bloody crucifix? Dude! That is powerful. And the acting is SO good.
That’s something else that’s taken a hit in the new films. The acting; it’s awful and poor consistently. Those old character actors are mostly gone now so we don’t get experienced actors like Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Karen Black, or Chris Lee making horror films these days. Every new actor is 20-something and looks like an underwear model. It sucks, because it takes me out of the movie.
FANGORIA: Clearly you’re the real deal mate; a fan through and through. Any last thoughts you want to share with the readers?
ZETRO: For sure man, I had a great time talking about this stuff. Just keep in mind that Exodus is gonna come after everyone on this new tour. We are like the metal version of slashers like Jason, or Michael Myers: you’re fucked because they are indestructible and are relentless killing machines. They just won’t stop coming after you, and that’s Exodus too. Over 30 years and still coming after you!
Exodus, featuring Steve “Zetro” Souza, began a tour with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies in November, and all their upcoming activities can be followed at their official site as well as their Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages.