Interview: Exodus’ Steve “Zetro” Souza talks cartoons, Mr. Pickles Thrashtacular tour, Exodus album update

Posted by on February 22, 2018


The Adult Swim Presents: Mr. Pickles Thrashtacular tour featuring Exodus and Municipal Waste begins today (22). Much like Metalocolypse and even Beavis and Butt-head before it, Mr. Pickles is a twisted cartoon that proudly flies the heavy metal flag, so it’s only fitting that two of metal’s most elite would do the same for it. While it’s Richmond, VA creators had ties to new school thrashers Municipal Waste it was Adult Swim who tapped the OG’s in Exodus to round out the bill. However, I doubt they knew what a cartoon fanatic frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza was before doing so. El Prezidente recently caught up with the now legendary frontman to discuss the upcoming tour and a flurry of topics surrounding the band, music, and life. You can listen to the entire interview here, and also, scroll down to enter a contest to win Mr. Pickles Thrashtacular tour swag!


Looking forward to this Mr. Pickles tour you have coming up with Municipal Waste. Have you ever seen Mr. Pickles?

Oh yeah, I’m well versed in it. I’m a cartoon guy in the first place. When they told us we were gonna do a tour for the Cartoon Network, I was like ‘well for what show?’ I was hoping it was Rick and Morty cause I LOVE Rick and Morty. I watch it all Metalocolpyse, I dig a lot of their shows and they’re like “Mr. Pickles,” and I’m like “is that about the carnage dog who listens to thrash?! I’ve seen that cartoon before it’s pretty twisted!” I watched almost all the episodes for the first two seasons, it’s just twisted and really funny. From what I understand they’re bringing the doghouse out, so you can take pictures in the doghouse, is what I’m told.


You said you’re a cartoon guy, what do you think your favorite cartoon of all time is?

Oh that’s a hard one. Anything from the 70’s cause when I’m off tour I watch Scooby Doo movies on Boomerang and the reason is because I think it was ’72 or ’73 when it came out. A famous celebrity always helped them solve the mystery from that era and I was probably like 8 or 10. I think this morning I was watching it was Jonathan Winters; Sonny and Cher, Don Adams, Don Knotts, Tim Conway, they had a bunch of them. Then they went up with other cartoons like Josie and the Pussycats and The Harlem Globetrotters, remember they had a cartoon back in the early 70’s, and the Addams Family. They had a bunch of special episodes and I like that but, Loony Tunes are probably the best thing. You can never go wrong. Tthey’re just classic and the violence in those cartoons is just amazing – everybody always over looks that. Elmer Fudd is wielding a gun trying to shoot the duck in the head!


They say those cartoons were originally intended for adults, we throw them on for kids now but they were made with adults in mind.

They showed them before movies I think, you’d go to the movies they’d show you two or three cartoons, the preview, and then the movie, that’s what my dad used to tell me. So I can see that, pretty twisted, some of the stuff is just out there. They do some shtick sometimes where you’re just like, “how’s a kid supposed to understand that?” But I watch anything cartoon like Metalocolypse, I loved that. It was funnier than hell. Now I watch a lot of the Adult Swim stuff. I love Robot Chicken, like I said I watch Rick and Morty, it’s probably the most ruthless show on television right now. Rick is this scientist and he’s Morty’s grandfather and he’s a drunk and a total asshole, he’s mean and always right. It’s another Adult Swim score.


I’m still a big Beavis and Butthead guy. That show introduced me to my favorite bands pretty much.

I watched (Beavis and Butthead) Do America just the other day. That was funny cause they put us on an episode of Beavis and Butthead one time. I think it was “Thorn in my Side,” the kid’s running in our video and they’re like (in Butthead’s voice) “look at that little kid Beavis, Run wimp-boy, run!” Classic stuff. Mike Judge is hilarious, King of the Hill is another great cartoon too!


We could talk about this stuff all day.

You have no idea!


So Gary Holt said he’s writing for the new record, the follow-up to Blood In, Blood Out. how’s that going?

To be honest with you, you’re probably not going to see that until the end, and you know what “The End” is. He’s gonna start with that in May and that’s gonna take, I couldn’t even tell you I have no idea, I just know they (Slayer) announced that that’s their last tour and realistically we’re not going to be able to record until that is finished. I’m speculating it’s gonna take a year and a half or two years to do the one final thing, but I believe it’s finished. Everybody knows what I know, just because I’m on the outside I have no insight on that. He (Gary) got home in October and they haven’t done anything since, and he HAS written Exodus stuff, just nothing he’s cared to share with any of us yet. I’ve heard a few songs that him and Tom (Hunting) got together with early last year, and to me I’m like ‘Oh my god, I come back in the band and how long are we gonna take before we do another record,’ but I understand he’s the main song writer here, Lee (Altus) does write some songs, but Gary’s always been the main song writer, so a lot of people are gonna be getting what they want back because obviously there’s gonna be no Slayer at some point so I guess he has to come back home, for good.

We love Craig, Craig is Gary’s stand-in when Gary’s out with Slayer, but I think the fans are very vocal and adamant about Gary coming back. We love Slayer, they’re our brothers and we understand it’s a better financial situation and I’m sure the final run is gonna be sold out everywhere, so a new Exodus record? The end of 2019 to be realistic. We’re gonna keep playing, we’re gonna tour the wheels off of Blood in, Blood Out, not even Blood In, Blood Out, we’re not naive to ourselves, we know we can go out and play Bonded by Blood, Pleasures of the Flesh, Fabulous Disaster and people will come, they don’t care, they love those songs. If we said we were coming around just playing Bonded by Blood the place would be sold out!


People love nostalgia.

They LOVE it! And I explain it like this. In the 80’s, we were rock stars, in the 90’s we were has-beens, now we’re legends. There’s three tiers you have to clear. I’ve had talks with newer bands you know quite well and I’m not gonna mention names, bigger bands than us now, but we influenced them – ‘you’ve gotta remember you’re gonna have this run and then you’re gonna become has-beens, ‘ and their eyes go” WHAT?” ‘But if you hang in 20-25 years you become a legend and you can always play on your old shit.’ It’s not like “oh shit Exodus doesn’t have a new record out,” that doesn’t quite work with metal. With metal it doesn’t really matter.


When you’ve got ten albums, how do you guys come up with the set list normally?

That’s a brawl. That’s a battle royale. I like to do obscure songs and some don’t. So we’ve been talking about that lately, there’s always staples, you always gotta play “Toxic Waltz”. you always gotta play “Bonded by Blood.” you always gotta play “Strike of the Beast”. There’s just certain songs the fans want to hear, want us to do a wall of death, and finish them off. Think about this, when we went out with Slayer, that was only six songs, we went out with Maiden last summer seven songs. I mean, what are you gonna pick. There’s certain songs, so you’re hardly even going to your new material. It’s not that we don’t like our new material, even the stuff that Rob sang on was awesome, I’d love to do that stuff. I don’t think we put out any shitty records but it’s like all the first stuff people wanna hear it.


But will you guys change it up from show to show?

We do, we just did Japan and night one was completely different than night two, same thing on 70,000 Tons. We just did the 70,000 Tons (cruise) and if you saw our first set it was nothing like our second set. We made sure it was completely different songs so if you were catching both performances. In Japan we did 17 songs and I think we only kept four songs in there each night, We did “Blacklist,” “Bonded,” “Toxic,” and “Strike of the Beast” both nights, but other than that every other song was completely different.


Wow. How do you remember all these lyrics?

I got a great memory, it’s the truth, I do remember everything. The other day we were talking about something and I said let’s do “AWOL,” and I just started rattling the lyrics off for “AWOL” verbatim and I haven’t sung that song in 30 years man. Gary’s like “Damn Zetro, you haven’t lost it” I said ‘I know I’m going to be a terrible old person, I know I’m gonna sit around going I’m gonna die today, probably gonna die today.’ My memory has always been killer, lyrically. I never walk on stage not prepared. Even when I got back in the band, they’re like “you’re not opposed to doing Rob’s era songs,” and I was like ‘no, I’m not.’ A lot of singers that come back, I mean I don’t think Joey sings anything that John Bush sings from Anthrax [ed note: he’s sang “Only”], I know Bruce doesn’t sing anything that Blaze Bailey did, and Halford doesn’t sing anything Ripper did. There’s so many singers that do that, I’m not one of them, I don’t have a problem playing what’s in the band’s catalog, whether it’s myself or not cause obviously Baloff had a record and Rob was on three.


That’s cool for the fans. Speaking of the fans at shows, this issue comes up every so often, the cellphone thing. I noticed A Perfect Circle is having a cellphone ban, I just saw Danzig, who had a cellphone ban, how do you feel about people filming the shows?

I couldn’t give a shit, that’s great. More people that have cameras in my face, it’s gonna hit YouTube and more people are gonna see it. If you’re at a level where you think you’re bigger than that, if you got 15,000 people in the crowd, how are you gonna control cellphones? You gonna tell them they can’t take it in? What if your mom’s sick? Your children or whatever. Now it’s just a part of it. Honestly though, I don’t think what’s going on in front of their crowds is going on in front of me, if you can hold a cellphone while you’re trying to watch Exodus that’s a whole other thing. I don’t care what you say Danzig may be a big tough guy but a Danzig crowd ain’t an Exodus crowd you know what I mean?


Right. I’m for filming at shows. Artists say “oh you’re never gonna watch that video and it’s poor quality” but if I had a cellphone video of Black Sabbath and Pantera from back in the day when I was 17, I’d be watching. You have a good memory but my memory is horrible so it’s really cool to have a little memento even if it doesn’t sound the same or look the same.

It brings you back. It’s like watching Scooby Doo movies from 1972. Why? because it brings me back into my living room on Saturday morning when that’s the only time they showed cartoons when I was a kid. In the 70’s there was no Cartoon Network. When Rudolph was on every year it was on ONE time at 8:00 on channel 5 the day before Xmas and everybody went to watch it. If you did not see Rudolph that year, you did not see Rudolph that year! There wasn’t another station running it, there wasn’t 24 hours of Rudolph. So it was more sacred to us then, and I think that has to do with a lot of music. Like you said when Pantera and Black Sabbath, I think that was like 9’8 or ’97? And like earlier stuff, I went on YouTube the other day and I watched AC/DC at the Oakland Coliseum live in 1979 for Highway to Hell. In the Bay area they used to do a festival called Day on the Green and the promoter Bill Graham would put on four bands who weren’t necessarily on tour or maybe even seven bands. That day it was Mahogany Rush, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Ted Nugent. It was ’79 and everybody had the hair, it was hilarious. I got goose bumps watching this thing, it was the shittiest recording of AC/DC but that didn’t matter, I was totally getting into the show completely like ‘Oh my God they did “Problem Child” that day!’ They were terrible that day but it was AC/DC from 1979, Bon, Phil, and Malcom, Cliff and Angus.


It’ll never happen again.

Never happen again. I do my own AC/DC tribute here when I’m home. Will Carroll from Death Angel is my drummer. And So AC/DZ is what I do, and I do only the Bon Scott era if I’m home for a couple month.s I got a manager guy I’ll go ‘hey book me three or four AC/DZ shows for like Friday and Saturday nights.’ And I go deep into the catalog, I do “Rock n Roll Singer” and b-side stuff, One night I did songs that they hardly ever play like “Little Lover,” “Can I Sit Next to You Girl.” I do it in the Bay area. I haven’t really toured with it although people have asked me a but it’s just something to get my jollies off while I’m here and not touring with Exodus.


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