During an appearance on “Zetro’s Toxic Vault,” hosted by current EXODUS singer Steve “Zetro” Souza, former EXODUS singer Rob Dukes looked back on his 2014 dismissal from the group after a nine-year tenure.
Rob said that the seed for his firing was planted during the creative sessions for 2014’s Blood In Blood Out, which ultimately featured Souza on vocals.
He said: “One night, before a show, me, Lee [Altus, guitar], Tom [Hunting, drums] and Jack [Gibson, bass] were sitting, and we said, ‘You know, we should do this [album] different. We should do this one where we actually rehearse together and we go through the songs like a band would do ’em in the old days’ — go through ’em and maybe pick apart parts, maybe make ’em better, do it that way.
“[I thought it was] a great plan; I agreed. I come home, fly back out a couple of weeks later and everything is done. They’re doing the drums, but Jack is doing the engineering, and Andy [Sneap, producer] is not doing the vocals. And at that time, nothing against Jack — I love Jack — but the difference was, working with Andy, I didn’t have to sing the whole line all the way through over and over again. Jack wasn’t able to, at this time, edit in a word if I f*cked up; I had to start all over. And the dissent had started with me. I felt a lot of the songs were very repetitious.
“Now, I could have just kept my mouth shut and just went along with it if I wanted to keep my job, even though it wouldn’t have mattered, because the business decisions, I think, were being made behind the scenes with Metal Maria and Chuck [Billy, TESTAMENT singer],” he continued “I, actually, in front of everyone, challenged Chuck. ‘Cause Chuck was now managing the band.
“We’re halfway through the record, and they said, ‘Well, Chuck‘s gonna manage the band.’ I go, ‘You don’t see that as a conflict of interest — a little bit?’ And I said this to Chuck, to his face. I said, ‘You’re telling me, if you get an opportunity, you’re not gonna have TESTAMENT [take the gig]; you’re gonna give EXODUS the gig? Get the f*ck outta here, dude! I wouldn’t do that, so I know you’re not gonna do that.’ He’s, like, ‘I wouldn’t do that.’ I go, ‘You’re not being honest with me. You’re not being honest with yourself.’ And it caused, like, a thing.
“And everyone was mad at me, ’cause the boys don’t like confrontation. And it wasn’t the songs. The songs were the songs. I thought ‘BTK’ was killer. Dude, you did ‘BTK’ awesome,” he said, complimenting Zetro. “There were certain things about it. I don’t wanna sh*t on it, but some of it just seemed regurgitated. I was, like, ‘This song sounds like that song,’ and, ‘This song sounds like this song,’ and it started to weigh on me. Like I said, I could have just kept my mouth shut and just played the game and not rocked the boat, but it wasn’t my nature. My nature was, ‘No, man. We’re better than this. We need to top ourselves over the last thing we did,’ and I didn’t feel like it was doing that — I felt like it was actually declining a little bit, in my eyes, from my position. But it didn’t mean that I didn’t give everything I had — I gave everything I had on vocals — but Jack was beating me up, because I was constantly not able to… Especially with some of the timing stuff — you’ve never done it before, and now you’re expected to do it forever. This is the CD, man — this is forever.”
“I was angry for about a year — maybe even longer,” Rob added. “‘Cause look, man, [I was] 47 years old [at the time]. I got married five days before. And you f*cking fire me. If I was by myself, if I was just me, I would have been OK with it. I was responsible for another human being. I just moved my entire life from my comfortable New York upbringing to a place [in Arizona] where I know one person, and I don’t even know him that well; I know him from touring and watching him when I was a kid. I knew Roger Miret from AGNOSTIC FRONT; it’s the only guy I knew [in Arizona].
“I remember telling my wife, ‘We’re gonna be okay. It’s fine. We’re fine. I’ll sell my car. And that’ll get us, like, a year rent, and we’ll be okay. I’ll figure it out. We’ll be okay.’ But in my head, I was f*cking terrified. And I felt like [the EXODUS guys] took something from me that I earned, that I deserved. But I was looking at it wrong. I didn’t deserve anything. I didn’t earn anything. I was grateful to be there. And I tried to do the right thing. I remember writing a statement and putting it out there. I was grateful — I was grateful for going to over a hundred countries in my lifetime, playing in front of the millions of people that I got to play over 10 years. I was grateful for every opportunity that was given to me; I was honestly grateful. But also, I was angry, and I had every right to be angry. But I wasn’t able to see it for what it was until a year later — it took me a year.”