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Interview: Hatriot

mit Steve Souza vom 10. Juni 2012
Die wenigsten Menschen erlernen heute einen Beruf, mit dem sie sich dann ein Leben lang identifizieren und im gleichen Betrieb tätig sein können oder wollen. Oftmals wechselt man sogar seine berufliche Ausbildung mehrmals im Leben, bis man entweder das gefunden hat, was man am liebsten schon immer tun wollte, aber nicht konnte, oder bis man einfach dort gelandet ist, wo man sich simpel und einfach während des aktuellen Lebensabschnitts wohlfühlt.
Gar nicht anders ist es auch bei Musikern und ihren Bands! Auch sie wechseln - je nachdem, mit welcher Spielart sie sich gerade am meisten identifizieren können - gerne hin und her, gründen neue Projekte, die sie oft schnell wieder aufgeben, oder kehren dem Musikgeschäft gänzlich den Rücken zu. Gar nicht anders verhält es sich beim ehemaligen Sänger der heutigen Thrashgrößen Testament und Exodus, Steve Souza. Zwischenzeitlich sattelte er vom Musiker zum Vorarbeiter einer Türinstallationsfirma um und mischte nach seiner Rückkehr ins Musikgeschäft bei mehreren eher mittelmäßig erfolgreichen Bandprojekten mit.
Aktuell steht Steve mit seiner neuen Band Hatriot in den Startlöchern und konnte vor kurzem einen Plattendeal bei dem deutschen Label Massacre Records unterzeichnen. Die Debütplatte „Heroes Of Origin“ soll mit einem angepeilten Veröffentlichungsdatum im Januar 2013 auch nicht allzu lange auf sich warten lassen. Im Jahr 2010 veröffentichte die Band bereits ihre gleichnamige Debüt-EP.
Doch wie betrachtet Steve seine damaligen Austritte aus heute so erfolgreichen Bands? Wie bewertet er seinen zweitweiligen Rückzug aus der Musik und wo liegen die Gründe dafür? Wird dieses aktuelle Projekt wie die vielen Vorherigen wie z.B. Dublin Death Patrol oder auch Tenet nebenbei laufen ohne sich großartig zu entwickeln, oder gelingt ihm jetzt doch nochmal der große Wurf?
Außerdem erzählt uns Steve über die für ihn persönlich wichtigsten Stationen auf dem Weg zum heutigen Profimusiker, wie zum Beispiel die 1972 von seinem Vater geschenkte Led Zeppelin-Platte, seit deren Erhalt er den Pfad der harten Musik beschritten hat. Das und viel mehr erfahrt ihr in unserem Interview!
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

The Interview:

Alex: Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time for this interview! How are you doing?
Steve: I am doing great. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you. Hatriot is going strong and we are about to record our debut album. I have been doing tons of press and really getting the word out on the band. We are gaining a lot of momentum. Life is really good for me right now.
Alex: What can you tell us about your newest thrash project called „Hatriot“? How would you personally categorize your current music?
Steve: Hatriot is my full time band. I can’t really say new anymore because it has been going for a couple years now. It is myself on vocals, Kosta Varvatakis on lead guitar, Miguel Esparza on second guitar, and my son Cody Souza on bass. I tell everybody that the music picks up where I left off years ago with Exodus. It is extreme thrash metal, very old school, but with some modern elements in there. There’s a little bit of death metal in there. Maybe a bit of black metal influence. The guys in the band are in their early 20’s and they bring a lot of new elements to our sound. It is definitely thrash metal, but turned up a notch. It is a little more extreme. Vocally my style is similar to what it was with Exodus during the ‘Tempo Of The Damned’ era. I am very proud of this thing and I can’t wait for the world to hear the full record. World domination is near my friends!
Alex: How has your musical style developed over the years?
Steve: I think that I have always kept my edge. I think that the true love for heavy metal has always stayed with me and anybody who knows me will agree. The love for the music is what helps me keep my edge, and that’s why the lyrics stay fresh and I stay creative. I also helped write four tracks on the new Testament album, ‘Dark Roots Of Earth,’ so I’m always staying creative.
Alex: Are there any past mistakes with your earlier bands you are trying to avoid this time?
Steve: There are always mistakes that you make, and you obviously want to avoid making them if you can, but that’s not to say that I won’t make some. The music business is very unpredictable. You start out as a musician, and you end up being a businessman. So there is a lot of learning curve, but since I’ve been in it for so long I am able to cut through a lot of that chase. I can’t say it will be a flawless ride because I’m not for sure. I expect pitfalls. Spinal Tap happens to everybody, and I mean everybody, even to the guys on a bigger level.
Alex: Anything from the past you would like to redo?
Steve: Well I wouldn’t change anything, because all the experiences I’ve had opened doors for other things. I’m very content with the way my career has unfolded. If I could re-live it, I’d say I would go back to 1989. That was a magical time for me with ‘Fabulous Disaster’ being such a big record. That year was the biggest of my life, as far as music goes. My status in the business was defined by what we (Exodus) did in 1989. It was a great time.
Alex: How about the first Hatriot album? Is there any working title or estimated release date yet?
Steve: Yes, we are very excited to announce that we just signed a deal with Massacre Records. They are a very strong metal label out of Germany, and we begin recording our debut record on August 15th. It is going to be called ‘Heroes Of Origin,’ and we are looking to release it in January of 2013.
Alex: What can the fans expect from the new stuff?
Steve: It is a continuation of what we did with the demo. The songs are getting stronger and the band is playing tighter. I’d say the fans can expect what they should expect from me, and that’s a no bullshit thrash record. It will be very old school, with hints of new school. I think it will stand on its own merit with the top shelf thrash bands of the day. Fans won’t be disappointed, put it that way.
Alex: Currently you are seeking a new full time drummer. What are the reasons for that and how is it going?
Steve: Actually we have hired my other son, Nicholas Souza, to fill the slot. It is a Souza family clan now! Our old drummer (Alex Bent) had a lot of other things going on and could not commit to Hatriot, so we had to move on. We put the world out on our website and on blabbermouth, and the response was pretty good. We had a lot of people call and several try out, but it just made sense to go with Nicholas.
Alex: In 2010 your self named EP has been released. What can you tell us about the production and the songwriting process?
Steve: Well we recorded it at Testament’s studio, and spent a few weeks on it. The writing process in Hatriot is pretty simple. Kosta writes all the music and arranges pretty much everything. I very rarely have to change anything that he writes. From there he teaches the rest of the band the material and they get it tight. I record our practices and take the music home with me to write the lyrics. My lyrics usually come pretty quick. There is no shortage of ideas going on.
Alex: What reactions about the EP did you get from fans and the (international) press so far?
Steve: The reaction has been great. International press has been all over it and I have been doing interviews nonstop for the past few months. For the most part the fans have been excited as well. I mean you get the occasional ‘he needs to go back to Exodus’ statement on the websites and stuff, but overall the response has been very positive and we are happy to deliver another quality metal band to the fans.
Alex: What would you say has been the most enlightening moment in your history as a musician? Any especially memorable stories (anecdotes) you would like to tell us?
Steve: Everything that has happened I guess. I can’t really pick one moment out, but if you knew me as a kid you would know how much I have always loved hard music. My dad brought me home a Led Zeppelin record in 1972 and I’ve really been on that path ever since. Now to be able to play on a level that I am taking it to, and to be able to live the dream that has always been mine from the start, is pretty amazing. People that have known me all my life will tell you that Steve Souza at 12 years old was the rocker kid! So to be able to live that dream and to get to the level that I have with the accolades and reputation that I have is pretty awesome. So it’s not just one enlightening moment, it is the whole thing.
Alex: Has there ever been a point in your career where you actually thought about giving up?
Steve: No, I never thought about giving up. In 2004 I left Exodus cold and it was a really bad thing. My mind was not in the right place and I was at fault. I knew that music would never leave me fully, but at that time I had to step out, and that’s what I did. I had a different situation then, with children to take care of and being married then. That’s over now. My children are now grown up and two of them play in Hatriot, so it’s great. My focus now is to get back to the way I was working in the 80’s when I had no kids and no wife. I have a wonderful girlfriend that supports what I do. It is all music, music, music.
Alex: As a general question, what significance did the music have in your life all the time? Friends first? Job first?
Steve: Music was always first. Like I said earlier, when I left Exodus in 2004 music was not first and it couldn’t be first. I had other obligations. So if I can’t make music first and give it the amount of time that it takes to be top quality, then I have to step away, which is what I did in 2004. Now I am back in a position where music is first. Yes I have a family and I have a job, but they are all clear to the fact that when Hatriot puts a record out and goes on tour that is going to be my main focus.
Alex: When did the music actually become your life? Was there some kind of a key moment?
Steve: I grew up around harder music, and I always figured I had it in me. I started out on a guitar before I became a singer, but it wasn’t my calling. Singing was what I was put here to do. I’d say when I started Legacy, which was not my first band by the way, and I pretty much hand-picked all of the players in that band. That’s when I knew this was about to get serious. I knew then that music was my calling and that I was going to get to do this on a stage and on a level that I’ve been able to maintain. When life gives you an opportunity and a talent you should follow it to the fullest, and that’s what I did and it has been very rewarding.
Alex: Surely a lot of fans have questions they would like to ask you. Now think the other way ‘round: If you had the time to ask any metal fan in the world a few questions, what would that be?
Steve: That’s a really good question. I would ask them questions similar to the ones I get. I would ask them what their take on the world is. I would ask them how this music we create affects them, and how it has changed their lives. Why do you go to that music, and why is it heavy metal that moves you?
Alex: Are there any (special) gigs or is there something like a bigger tour planned for 2012/ 2013?
Steve: I don’t think we will be doing many gigs in 2012 since we are doing the record. When that is done and released then it is game on. I plan on touring heavy in 2013. That’s part of the deal we have with Massacre. Hatriot is going on tour to promote our music. We are not milking the Exodus connection and resting on laurels. Hatriot will be on tour, and hopefully it will be with a tour package of thrash bands and metal bands from my era.
Alex: What else can you tell us about your future?
Steve: World domination is what we are after. Expect the new Hatriot album, ‘Heroes Of Origin’, to be released in early 2013 with lots of touring to follow!
Alex: Is there anything left you would like to tell your fans out there?
Steve: I want to thank everybody for the support and thank all the German metal fans for following all my projects and bands over the years. Germany has such a strong knowledge of heavy metal and that is why we went with a German record company. I look forward to coming over there and seeing all of you again real soon. Big thanks to Metal Trails for the great interview! ZETRO
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