Like London, Ontario and Paris, Texas there’s a city in the California Bay Area with the same name as one of the great metropolises of the world. Yep, Dublin, CA was named after Ireland’s capital, but this East Bay suburb is probably best known in the metal world for being the hometown of some heavy hitters in the early ’80s SF metal scene. A tight-knit set of dudes who grew up together (which included Testament vocalist, Chuck Billy, and two of his brothers) this crew would go on to form or join Testament, Legacy, Exodus, Vio-Lence, Laaz Rockit, Tesla, Heist and others. Though they were always just thrown in with the generic “Bay Area” scene, as it turns out, these guys were Dublin diehards.
In 2006, between commitments to their various other bands, a Dublin supergroup called Dublin Death Patrol convened to write and record together. DDP 4 Life was released in 2007 on Mascot Records and featured the mammoth lineup of vocalists Chuck and Steve Souza; guitarists Andy Billy, Greg Bustamente, Steve Robello and John Hartsnick; bassists John Souza, Willy Lange and Eddie Billy; and drummers Troy Lucketta and Danny Cunningham.
Five years and many local shows and European metal festivals later, DDP is back with album number two, Death Sentence (as well as a reissue of their debut, just to refresh your memory). We fired off some questions to former Legacy/Exodus vocalist Steve “Zetro” Souza to give us the lowdown on his bandmates, his city and the wrecking crew that is Dublin Death Patrol.
For the uninitiated, the Dublin you took your name from is not in Ireland, right? Tell me a little bit about your Dublin.
Dublin, California is a small place. It is sandwiched in between two bigger cities, and in those cities you have to have a bit of money to live there. Not so much in Dublin. They refer to us as ‘Scrublin’ because it is not a rich city. But there must be something in the water here, because I can tell you at least five major bands that came from, or have direct ties to, Dublin, California.
Has the “Dublin” in your name caused any confusion with fans or clubs?
Yes, it has happened actually. There is also a Dublin, Ohio as well. I think because of our logo we get misinterpreted as maybe being from Ireland. The funny thing is we have never played Ireland. In fact, we were on tour in London back in 2007 and there were a lot of fans buying our shirts because of the logo. They were all like, “come to Ireland!” but we have yet to play there.
How did it come about that DDP has so many members? It’s more like a gang than a band.
Good question. When we did the first DDP record we wanted to give our friends who had never been on an album before the chance to play on a record. So that’s how so many people became involved. Then we had a few guest stars like Troy from Tesla and Phil from Machine Head. By the time we did the second album, we had reduced the line-up to the core seven members that play with DDP live. You are right, it really is similar to a gang.
What challenges does this create when you’re writing or recording?
There are not a lot of challenges actually. We do all our writing separately, which is much different from what I do with my main band, Hatriot. The guitar players come up with riffs and send their ideas to Chuck and me to sort out. The only challenge I guess is the fact that I’m not there to oversee the creation of the riffs and to help structure stuff. With Hatriot I am there from beginning to end in all aspects of the creative process, and I like that way a lot better. With DDP, Chuck and I get demos from the rest of the band and we write to that. There’s not really a band vibe when we write with DDP.
How do you and Chuck work out who will sing what?
Honestly, I am in charge of that because I write most of the DDP lyrics. We go into the studio and I tell Chuck where I think his voice will fit and where I should follow up. He has suggestions for himself too, but I’m pretty much the driver when it comes to assigning vocals to the riffs.
Do you ever have to separate the Billy brothers when an argument over arrangements come up? I’d hate to get mixed up in that.
Oh no, they get along great. In fact, DDP has helped to bring them together as brothers and they are a lot closer now. Andy knows his role in the band and has a lot of respect for the status Chuck has earned in the business. DDP is something they get to do together as brothers and it is a real cool thing. They never argue.
There’s obviously a thrash tradition in the Bay Area, but you guys have your own style. What are some of the influences at work here?
Well, the cool thing with DDP is we do what we want and we have fun with it. That’s really what it is all about. There’s no pressure to compete with our full-time bands, or to be the heaviest, or anything like that. We are all very influenced by ’70s era hard rock and early metal, so we let those influences shine through a bit more than we do in our full time bands.
You guys are all busy with various other projects, so how do you find the time to put in time with DDP?
DDP is more of a fun project than a functioning band. We are serious about it, but it takes a backseat to our other bands, and I wouldn’t say it is a big priority for anyone in the group. It is our “fun” project and a way to hang with our buddies we grew up with. Chuck is obviously committed to Testament, and his plate is way full promoting their new record. I have my own band now called Hatriot, and we just signed with Massacre Records and are working on our debut CD as we speak. So don’t expect a DDP tour, maybe a festival show here and there, but no tour. It is what it is!