In 1978 the band Hell Razor was formed
in Ottawa ON,Canada. At that time the band consisted of John Ricci
(guitars), Dan Beehler (drums) and Allan James Johnson (bass). In 1980
they changed their name to Exciter and recorded a demo which they
then sent to Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records. Varney included one song
from it, "World War III", on the compilation album US Metal Volume II in
1982. Shortly after that Exciter were signed to Shrapnel Records. In
1983 they released their debut album, ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’.
Later that year Exciter signed a record-deal with Jon Zazula's Megaforce
Records and soon after that they released their second album, ‘Violence
& Force’ (1984). After a few opening dates with Anthrax they embarked on
their first U.S. tour with Mercyful Fate. Exciter switched to a new
label, Music For Nations and traveled to London to record their third
album (produced by Motörhead producer Guy Bidhead). The album would be
titled ‘Long Live The Loud’. It was a slightly more 'mainstream' heavy
metal sound than the speed/thrash metal of the first two albums. After
its release the band went on a European tour with Accept and later a
U.S. tour with Motörhead and Megadeth. Before the year ended they
released the 3-track EP 'Feel the Knife', which would be the last
release by the original line-up. Shortly after this release, John Ricci
quit the band.
Along with a new guitarist came a new, more melodic sound. The next
album, ‘Unveiling The Wicked’, was released in 1986. After its release
the band went out on a very successful European tour with Motörhead and
Manowar. It was decided at this time that Dan Beehler (who had handled
both drums and vocals since the band's inception) would not sing
anymore. A new vocalist was found in Rob Malnati who made his debut on
the 1988 album Exciter (O.T.T.), with this album the band pushed the
melodic sound even further. A Canadian tour followed but after that the
band went on hiatus.
In 1991 the band re-emerged with Dan Beehler on drums and lead vocals
again. Original guitarist John Ricci also returned to the fold and one
year later the band signed with German metal label Noise Records and
recorded their sixth album entitled ‘ Kill After Kill’ and went on a
three week European tour with Rage. In 1993 they released their first
live album, ‘Better Live Than Dead’ , which had been recorded during
their 1991 Canadian tour. After this release the band disappeared for a
second time. It would be three years before they would be heard from
In March of 1996 an almost completely new line-up was announced.
Guitarist John Ricci, was the only remaining original member. Jacques
Bélanger was the new vocalist and Rick Charron and Marc Charron (no
relation) would handle drum and bass duties. The new line-up played a
few well received shows in Canada before recording a new album entitled
‘The Dark Command’ (1997).
Between 1998 and 2000 the band was basically dormant with only two
festival appearances in the 2 year span. The summer of 2000 saw the
release of the follow-up to ‘The Dark Command’ entitled ‘Blood Of
Tyrants’. The new album was heavier and more aggressive than its
predecessor. In the fall of 2001 Jacques left the band due to "creative
differences". A year later Marc quit to pursue a career in the
At the beginning of 2003 a new line-up was announced with John and Rick
returning to the band, but due to several line-up problems the band
recorded ‘New Testament’ with John on both guitar and bass. ‘New
Testament’ would be a "best of" album of re-recorded classics from
throughout the band's entire career. Later that year, bassist Rob
"Clammy" Cohen would join the ranks. The year 2004 would end with the
band heading out on a European tour with Steel Attack and in 2006
Jacques Belanger left the band once again.
Now, two years later the band has a new singer and a new
album has been released through Massacre records, so we have plenty of
questions for John Ricci, the only original member left in the band!!!
Your latest album Thrash Speed Burn’ was released
recently, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about
it! So here we go, first of all, how are you?
Everything is going great, the new record is getting
positive response from the fans and media!
Let’s go back in history for a bit. After the album
‘Blood of Tyrants’ (2000), your singer Jacques Bélanger left the band.
Then in 2003 new members joined and you recorded a number of old
classics for your album ‘New Testament’. How did you finally come to
this new line up for the band? And how does it feel to be the only
remaining original member?
Yes, Jacques left the band after ´Blood Of Tyrants´ but he came back to
record New Testament in 2004.The line-up for that record was myself,
Jacques and Rik. I played bass on New Testament because at that time we
didn’t have a bass player. The line-up that we have now on this new
record ‘Thrash Speed Burn’ is myself, Rik Charron, Clammy and new
singer Kenny Winter. It does not feel strange to be the only original
member it’s actually better, there is less disagreements within the band
and we actually work as a team and not against each other like the
So it took you guys some years to come up with a new
studio album, why did we have to wait so long?
After the release of 'New Testament' we did not have any
new material. We started writing new songs in 2006 for Thrash Speed Burn
but then Jacques quit again so at this point we had to audition new
singers before we found Kenny. Time passed quickly and before you knew
it here we are in 2008!
How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Thrash,
Speed, Burn’ after your previous album, did ideas come easily so that
you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing
When I write songs they come easily. I wait until I’m
inspired by a musical idea or guitar riff. I never force creativity, It
is a natural evolution. I never write anything down, I actually tape the
idea and then go back a few days later and listen to it again to make
sure the idea is going to work.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Thrash,
Speed, Burn’’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?
The goal of ´Thrash Speed Burn´ is to introduce Exciter to younger fans
to let them know where thrash and speed came from. We are one of the
pioneers of speed metal, I felt we had to re-establish this. This record
is like a `roots` record, it has all the elements what metal is all
Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
Yes, this was a deliberate vision to write the album this
Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics
on the new album?
I write all the music and lyrics but Rik, Clammy and Kenny really
contribute a lot
to make the songs better.
What are the main differences between your last album
´Blood Of Tyrants’ and the recently released ‘Thrash, Speed, Burn’?
In my opinion there isn’t much difference between ´Blood Of Tyrants´ and
´Thrash Speed Burn´. Both records are very fast, if any difference I
think the songwriting is stronger on ´Thrash Speed Burn´.
How did the recording process proceed and how much time
did you spend in the studio?
The recording went very smoothly, our producer Charles
Fairfield was very easy to work with. The record was recorded from
Sept.-Dec./07. It would have taken less time but our singer Kenny lives
in New York City and we had to work around his availability when he
For the first time in Exciter history, you recorded an
album in a digital studio, what were your expectations of this type of
Our expectations in a digital studio were that we assumed the recording
process would be much faster and less complicated than an analog studio.
When recording tracks, if a mistake would occur it was much easier to
correct it with music software instead of re-recording the parts again.
What are the main differences between a conventional
studio and this digital studio, were there any problems which you hadn't
As I mentioned, a lot of time is saved when you don’t have to re-record
parts again and the corrections can be done with automation, that’s the
main difference between analog and digital studios.
Back to the production of the album. It’s a pity that this is the only
weak point of ‘Thrash, Speed, Burn’, how did that happen ?
I don’t think the production is weak on ´TSB´, it just sounds 80`s and
has that old school garage sound which is what made Exciter popular in
the first place. We didn’t have the same budget as some other bands
where they could spend months and months to refine their sound, we had
to move quickly and finish the album for the proposed release date
Now we have ‘Thrash, Speed, Burn’ in store. And despite the bad
production of the album, have you received any feedback on the new album
yet? How do you feel about this album – are you satisfied with the
outcome or would you have liked to have changed anything in
The reviews for TSB have been over the top, great
reviews. I would have changed nothing on this record, we’re very
satisfied with it.
In song writing, what is, according to Exciter, the
utmost important ingredient for a song, how can we imagine you work on
new songs? What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down
and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait
until you get an idea?
Sometimes I come up with song ideas when I’m not expecting it, at that
point I pick up the guitar and play the idea before I forget it ! ha !
Is there any typical way that an Exciter song comes into
Usually I’ll come up with a guitar riff first, we’ll jam
it to make sure it will work and then we move on and complete the song .
We add the lyrics the last after the whole song has a final arrangement.
Do any bands, inspired by your work years ago, in turn
inspire you these days? You guys have been around for almost 30 years,
and your body of work has had enough impact.
Younger bands that we influenced do not really inspire me, I do
appreciate many new metal bands, but what they are playing is just an
extension of what we started.
After your album ‘New Testament’ you changed record
labels, Osmose Productions was exit and Massacre Records came in. Did
this change also have a positive influence on recording of ‘Thrash,
Massacre Records has been very good with us. We had full
creative control for this album with no influence from Massacre. We were
free to do what we wanted.
What was the main reason you joined Massacre Records, how
is your relationship with them - did you have free reign as a band to do
what you wanted creatively or otherwise, or did they impose any rules on
what you guys did?
We decided to leave Osmose Productions because even though they are a
excellent company we felt that they had done all they could for us and
we wanted to move on to a company that could possibly do more promotion
Could you please describe the implications of the title
Thrash, Speed, Burn’, what does it stand for and is there a special
meaning behind it?
The meaning of ´TSB´ is this,
Thrash.....thrashing and head banging.
Speed.....playing wicked riffs with intensity.
Burn.......burning up and down the guitar neck.
Who wrote the lyrics for this album and can you tell us
something about them?
I write all the lyrics but on this record Kenny’s contribution has been
fantastic. He added alot of ideas that I never thought of and as a
result the melodies improved.
Finally, where do you see Exciter going in the coming
months, or do you not think to the future too much?
First of all our new record ´TSB´ had pre-orders of 5,717 units before
the release date,Feb.22/08 which is a great start. We just played the
Atarfe Vega Rock festival in Spain, March 8 and we’ve just been
confirmed for the Rock Hard festival in Germany,
May 10.We hope the sales for our new record are good, I think this is
our main focus this year.
What about touring? Are you going on a European tour as a
support act, or will we see you in the smaller, but nicer, clubs? Is
there a chance that we could see you here in 2008 ?
We are working on a European tour of one week, Oct.10-25/08. Our agent,
Jens at Crush Concerts in Berlin should have confirmation within a
month. The tour will be a headline tour with maybe 2 support acts in
Ok, now some questions to enable our readers to get to
know you a little better:
How did you get involved in the music business?
I started playing guitar in the late 60`s and I had dream like most
musicians to make it. That desire to succeed is still with me today.
What songs and bands do you listen to these days?
I listen to a lot of newer bands like Kreator, Arch Enemy, Cradle of
Filth, Cannibal Corpse etc. and also the classics Priest, Maiden,
Sabbath, Motorhead, Saxon. I listen to everything, I think it keeps me
updated on what’s happening.
Is there anything you like to do besides your job in the
I have a regular day job, I work in a music store selling musical
You guys are from Canada. Was it hard to sell your style
there as the music scene there isn’t dominated by metal?
Canada does not support their own artists unless you're a pop band.
Heavy Metal music is considered a joke to the Canadian music industry.
They don’t understand it and they don’t take it seriously. Canada is a
nice place to live but a horrible place if you try to pursue a musical
career and get recognition in your own country if you are in a real
I assume you are not yet capable of making a living out
of Exciter; what is a common day like for you?
A common day for me is work all day and then do band
business during the evening always thinking what will be the next move
So tell us a little about yourself personally and the
kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your
lyrics. What are you into?
I am motivated by the need to succeed playing metal music and not
selling out due to frustration. Besides music I do have hobbies like
restoring classic cars.
How do you see the future for Exciter? Do you think, for
instance that the band will still exist ten years from now?
The band will definitely exist 10 years from now. Exciter
is an institution, we will continue to write great metal music for years
What is your opinion on the thrash / power metal scene
these days, is there anything missing?
The new thrash music of today is more extreme than what we started. If
you listen to newer thrash bands in comparison we sound mellow. I don`t
think there's anything missing.
Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one
that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
Because I started playing music in the 60`s ,the first heavy albums
at the time that inspired me were Led Zeppelin ´11´ and Black Sabbath’s
Okay, if you could choose three bands to get on stage
with, who would they be?
Three bands that I would like to be on the same bill with would be,
Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Motorhead.
Any last statement or anything you'd like to add...
We have many fans in the Netherlands and the rest of
Europe, I would like to thank the fans for their ultimate support for
keeping the band’s name alive. We always make an effort to meet and sign
autographs at all our shows for our fans, we really appreciate their
die-hard dedication. Long Live Metal !!!
Okay, thanks for the interview!
Current members :
Kenny "Metal Mouth" Winter - Vocals
John Ricci - Guitars
Rob "Clammy" Cohen - Bass
Rick Charron - Drums
Former members :
Dan Beehler - Drums, Vocals
Rob Malnati - Vocals
Brian McPhee - Guitars
Allan James Johnson - Bass
David Ledden - Bass
Jeff McDonnald - Bass
Marc Charron - Bass
Jacques Belanger – Vocals
Heavy Metal Maniac (1983)
Violence and Force (1984)
Long Live the Loud (1985)
Feel the Knife (EP) (1985)
Unveiling the Wicked (1986)
Kill after Kill (1992)
Better Live Than Dead (1993)
The Dark Command (1997)
Blood of Tyrants (2000)
New Testament (2004)
Thrash Speed Burn (2008)