Interview with Steve "Zetro" Souza of HATRIOT
Steve, „Heroes of Origin“ hits the world end of January. Happy to release Hatriot's debut now ?
I am very happy to unleash ‚Heroes Of Origin‘ on January 25th. It has been a long time coming. I have been working with my guitarist Kosta Varvatakis for three years now and we launched the Hatriot website in February of 2011. So it has been a couple years in the making and we have worked hard to build Hatriot into the machine it is today.
Is the album title „Heroes of Origin“ a statement for playing traditional thrash and metal sounds without mixing modern elements ?
There are a few modern elements in there, like death metal blast beats in the drumming, but this is a true old school thrash record. It is what I did with Exodus, only brought up to the modern time. Put it this way, if you like what I did in my other bands you will love this. It has all the familiar elements of thrash metal. The title comes from an old comic book I had as a kid. To me it means Hatriot are the rebels of modern time.
Please tell us the background of the foundation of Hatriot. What was the idea behind Hatriot...it seems to be a kind of family business ? - How easy is it to play together with parts of your family in one band ?
From the outside looking in it seems like Hatriot is a family business, but the fact is I started Hatriot with my guitarist Kosta Varvatakis a few years ago and we tried out players until we arrived at the current line-up of the band. My oldest son Cody tried out on bass a couple years ago and proved himself to be the best man for the job. Nick, my youngest son, has been on drums for the last six months. He is the newest member of the band. Again, Nick had to try out and earn his way into Hatriot. There is no nepotism in my band. It is pretty easy to be in a band with my kids. They all grew up around the music business so it is pretty second nature to them. We are good friends and get along fine. They respect me as dad and respect my experience in heavy metal, so it is a great situation.
Your voice is the ultimate trademark of the band. What do Hatriot offer to the thrash fans outside also ?
My voice is the familiar aspect of the band, but the music is so killer and heavy that I believe the fans are going to love all the elements of Hatriot, not just the vocals. The songwriting is definitely strong and the musicianship is top notch. You would never know that these guys have never recorded an album until now. They sound like total pros. So I would say Hatriot offers solid thrash metal to the fans, complete with all the arrangements and elements that they expect from a band that I would sing for. It’s my best record yet.
„The violent time of my dark passenger“, the first single, is a strong and powerful appetizer. Is it a sign where the way of the album goes or just one of different facettes in sound ?
We picked that song just because it has a bit of everything that we do all rolled into the one song. Every track on the record has its own identity and I believe every song is a great song. There are lots of hooks and lots of riffs on this record. ‚Dark Passenger‘ is a good overall representation of what the band sounds like and what style we are shooting for.
If I take a look on the album artwork and your band's name, I am not sure if it is a statement for patriotism or hate of it. Can you explain that ? I for myself think the album is the start of days of reckoning with politics....
We love our country but the American government cannot be trusted and is corrupt. That’s basically the definition of a ‚Hatriot‘ right there. Sure we love our country, but the government does a lot of things we don’t agree with. There is a political theme to the band name, but the lyrics in the songs are not just political. I write about school shootings, suicide bombers, monster movies, and things like that.
Hatriot are defenders of the Bay Area sound. Is this the place where the best sound comes from ?
I think it is the place where the thrash sound originated. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know if it is the ‚best‘ sound, as that would be a matter of opinion, but more classic thrash metal bands call the Bay Area home than anywhere else in the world. That is a fact.
Where and how did you find the band members ? Ok...I think the way to Cody, for example, was a more easy one, ha ha....
Cody and Nick both tried out for the band. Of course they are my sons, so they were easy to find I guess you would say. My primary guitarist, Kosta Varvatakis, was somebody i found at a metal show. His band was playing and I struck up a conversation with him afterward, which led to us writing together. That was the beginning of Hatriot. My second guitarist, Miguel Esparza, was recommended to me by our former drummer. Miguel tried out and had everything we needed in a player – the chops, attitude, and stage presence – so he got the gig and the rest is history.
As I see you already have played some shows. One with Death Angel and some others. How is the feeling on stage with Hatriot. I mean, you played many shows before and got a lot of experience. But how is it with the rest of the band ?
It was a great experience for everybody in the band. The other guys have been in local bands and have done a lot of shows themselves, so it’s pretty comfortable for them on stage in any situation. Of course bands like Death Angel and Testament are big idols to the guys in my band, and I have known them all forever, so it is a lot of fun to share the stage with bands like them. I really appreciate the opportunity to get in front of their fanbase.
Are there plans now for more live activities or even tours ? A great album has to be promoted live, for sure. And will it lead your way overseas, too ?
That is definitely the plan. We are hoping to get a good reaction from the promoters once the record is released. We plan on getting in front of as many people as possible. European festivals are a big deal and we want to jump on those, as well as get a support slot on a bigger metal tour package.
The album was produced by Juan Urteaga in Trident Studios and you got a deal with Massacre. Not the worst requirements to start a breakthrough again, or ?
Juan is a great friend and an amazing studio producer. He has worked with a lot of big guys in the past such as Testament, Exodus, Machine Head, and Vicious Rumors. He was great to work with and made the recording process very comfortable and relaxed. We had several labels approach us last year, but Massacre seemed to be the one most eager to get the ball rolling and we really liked their enthusiasm towards the band. One of our managers has a real good relationship with Massacre from his other bands, so it just made sense to go with them. I think it is a great start for this chapter in my career. Hatriot is ready to take over the world!
As you take a look back to the last 10 years. What are the most important changes in music business in your eyes ? And what makes it easier now or is only killing your nerves ?
The most important change is obviously the power of the internet. Social media makes it easy to connect with fans directly, and I really like that. Labels are not the great gatekeepers that they once were. Artists are more in control of their future now. That being said, the downside is the fact that there are too many bands and the scene is way oversaturated now. There are too many bands competing for the fans‘ dollar. It is a double edge sword, but I prefer to look at the positive side of it.
Is there any song on the album that is a very special one for you or do all have equal rights beside the others ?
I honestly love all of them. They are all heavy and are well written. It’s like trying to pick a favorite child – I just can’t do it. I think the fans will be very happy with this album as well. It is a return to form for me, and a natural ‚next step‘ from what I was doing with Exodus in 2004. So the whole record is very special to me.
Is your focus now completely on Hatriot, or are there any plans with other projects or bands in the near future ?
Hatriot is it for me. This is my band and it is not a project. This is my baby. I am focusing all my efforts and energy into Hatriot and there will be no other projects or bands for quite a long time.
Whats coming next with Hatriot ?
The record will be released January 25th, and from there we are going to be doing all we can to promote it around the world. We have a big promotional campaign in place and that includes a lot of touring. When we finish the tour cycle we will be right back into the studio to record the next album. It is an ongoing process – make a record, go on tour, make another record, and go back on tour. That’s the way we did it in Exodus and that’s what we hope to do with Hatriot as well.
„Heroes of Origin“ is also coming as limited vinyl edition. Are you still a fan of this format or do you meanwhile prefer the digital ways?
I am still a fan of vinyl. Honestly I think it sounds better on CD just because of digital clarity, but having this album out on vinyl is a nod to the old school ways of heavy metal and we are all for that. The vinyl for the Hatriot record is limited to 500 copies so the die hards will rush out and get those and the rest of the world can do the digital format of their choice. Personally, I look forward to seeing the artwork on the vinyl version. It is going to be awesome.
Final question.....Is 2013 the year of Hatriot ?
2013 is definitely going to be the year of Hatriot. It is a very exciting time for me and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for the band. My previous bands have brought me countless stories and experiences over the years and I know the Hatriot chapter of my career will be very cool as well. Thanks for the interview. I hope to see you all on tour very soon!
Thanx a lot !!
Interview by Kerbinator
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...