Exodus is back in action with another thrash-tastic album called Persona Non-Grata dropping on November 19th via Nuclear Blast. Steve “Zetro” Souza took the time to chat with us about Tom Hunting’s return, the new album, the postponed Bay Strikes Back tour, and pizza.
Our first question was to ask how Tom Hunting is doing after his battle with cancer. Steve replied “We played last Thursday actually. We played at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento and he killed it. The doctors gave him a clean bill of health. In fact, he doesn’t even have to do his last four chemo treatments, so they got it all. So he’s getting stronger. We did a forty-minute set at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento and he killed it. Tom is back! Exodus is back!”
Regarding the new Persona Non-Grata album. Steve and Gary have mentioned in other publications that they feel the time off due to the pandemic made for a stronger album. I wanted to know if the key was the extra time or if it was a combination of setting up a recording studio at Tom Hunting’s home in California. Steve said “We’ve been isolated before. But it was always, Alright the producer only has this many weeks, and somebody else is going to be in the studio, and you guys are going to be on the road. This way there was none of that.” Steve added “Everybody was home. The industry completely shut down at that time. So we were very fortunate to go up there, chill, listen to it, make sure it was right, retweak it. I mean, I probably saw, I sh*t you not, sixteen different mixes.”
Diving more into the musical and lyrical direction on Persona Non-Grata, I first asked about the overall themes. Steve mentioned “The music if anything…think about Bonded (by Blood), Pleasures (of the Flesh), and Fabulous (Disaster) and think about Persona Non-Grata, it’s twice as brutal. It’s twice as brutal as those records. Those albums are heavy. They’re thrash metal records. Not taking anything away from them. They still rock, they still got a roll to them. But, god listen to this f*cking album. This album is not a nice record. You’ll f*cking, you’ll go crazy listening to this record.”
I asked about one of the songs that Steve wrote called “Elitist” to understand the story behind the lyrics. “When I heard the music, it was very (makes chugging sounds). So I wrote it very arrogantly you know what I mean” replied Steve. “It’s not like you’re an elitist, I’m an elitist.” Steve added “Another Exodus style tongue-in-cheek way…that one’s a fun song. If any of them are fun or funny, that one’s probably the one.”
On Wednesday, Oct 13th during Zetro’s Toxic Vault, Steve talked with Chuck Billy (Testament) about the postponement of the “Bay Strikes Back” tour with Testament and Death Angel to Spring 2022. Steve mentioned that the bands were feeling that the risks associated with touring right now would mean strict containment by the bands in order to pull off those shows. Having talked with other touring bands such as Lamb of God about the added hassles and still have members of the crew come up sick, it just doesn’t make sense right now. The hope is that things are better in the spring. Regardless of the state of Covid come Spring of 2022, they are committed to those rescheduled dates and will honor all tickets sold.
We wrapped up our talk with Steve to learn about his first album purchase, his first concert, some horror movie recommendations, and whether he likes pineapple on pizza. Take a listen to the full interview for all the details with Steve “Zetro” Souza of Exodus. Then go order your copy of Persona Non-Grata which will be out on November 19th via Nuclear Blast.