Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview with John Ricci of Exciter

Canada’s Exciter were one of the early pioneers of speed metal/thrash back in the mid 1980’s. One of the first thrash bands I ever heard and they established their own sound. They are still going at it today, so I recently got to talk to guitarist John Ricci to find out about the band’s past, present and future.

MM-So what are you currently up to?
JR-We are getting ready to play Rock Hard Festival in Germany, May 10. We also played the Atarfe Vega Rock festival in Spain, March 8 .Right now we are doing one-off shows but are planning a full European tour this fall.

MM-Along with Metallica and Slayer you also released your debut “Heavy Metal Maniac” in 1983. Did you ever dream you would be one of the bands that would help create thrash and that it would go on to be such an important style of metal?
JR-We were caught completely by surprise by this title. We didn't realize the music that we were creating would be part of the next genre of heavy metal. I guess I could say our musical style was discovered accidentally. HMM was a collection of songs which was meant to be a 9 song demo recorded in the basement of our sound engineer's house.

MM-Around 1985-86 you were headlining clubs and had a following, but then it seemed like scene went on past you. Why do you think you didn’t become more popular than you were?

JR-We missed our chance at success because of a few reasons. The original line-up had many disagreements therefore affecting our business decisions and losing our focus. Also we never had proper management, we tried to manage ourselves but it really didn’t work. Being based in Canada is definitely a disadvantage. The Canadian music industry doesn't support metal musicians as a result we never had the same support like Metallica or Slayer had. They had people behind them pushing and promoting them. We didn't.

MM-What songs does your current set list consist of? Is it mainly songs from the 83-86 period or is it more of a mix of songs you have done over the years?
JR-Our song list is 50 % old stuff ( 1983-85, 1990-93) and 50% new stuff (1996-present )

MM-What are your audiences like these days? Is it all older fans or do you get a mix of young and old?
JR-A lot of younger fans who have discovered the origins of thrash metal are coming to our shows and our audience is growing because of this.

MM-In recent years there has been an outpouring of younger bands like Municipal Waste, Warbringer and Merciless Death who are playing 80 s style thrash. What do think about these bands and are they really doing anything that bands like yourselves didn't do twenty years ago?
JR-The younger bands are taking what we did and bringing it to a more extreme direction which is a good thing. There are a lot of really new metal bands out there, all the power to them.

MM-What younger metal bands do you like?
JR-I've been listening to Arch Enemy, Cannibal Corpse, Cradle of Filth, Kreator, High On Fire etc.


MM-There were several good thrash acts coming out of Canada besides yourselves such as Annihilator and Sacrifice. However, it doesn’t seem there was as many thrash acts coming from Canada as there were in the States and in Germany. Do you think that is true and if so then why?
JR-Like I mentioned before Canada is a country that follows musical trends and is primarily a pop market. As a result any musician in Canada that tries to put a thrash band together find out how hard it is to succeed, they get frustrated and quit, therefore less thrash bands coming from Canada.

MM-What is the metal scene like in your area today? Any great unsigned bands we should be aware of?

JR-There are some good new metal bands in our hometown Ottawa, Aggressor has a few demos and are currently developing themselves for success.

MM-Is there anything that you wish you had done different in your music career?
JR-I do have one regret, quitting Exciter in August 1985 but now that I think of it I wish the band the way we exist today was the original line-up, we would probably still be together with no break ups and line-up changes over the past 30 years. We would be further ahead in our career!

MM-What would be your advice to a young band just starting out?
JR-Keep going and never give up. The band must stick together through the good times and bad times. That's the only way things will happen for the band.

MM-If someone came up to you and said that they had never heard one of your albums but they would like to then what album would you recommend they start with and why?
JR-Thrash Speed Burn is the logical choice it's old school metal at its best and best describes Exciter's unique delivery of speed and power.

MM-If you had to pick three of your songs that you think are at least among your bands best, what would they be and why did you pick them? JR-Massacre Mountain...very intense high voltage classic in the Exciter tradition, The Dark and memorable, a favorite with the audience when performed live. Metal Crusaders.....a wicked anthem to all metalheads throughout the and furious !

MM-What do you hope to accomplish in 2008?
JR-Our main focus is to encourage sales of our new record Thrash Speed Burn and the only way to do that is to play live as much as possible. So far the pre-sales before the release date have been fantastic we're hoping that is a good sign. We're quite content with our new label, Massacre Records in Germany.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
JR-Exciter's music is timeless, old songs or new songs they all deliver the essence of what metal is all about. Hail to all Metal Crusaders !!!

***Thanks to John for doing the interview.

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Anonymous rene said...

Great interviu. I bought the new EXCITER album and love it. Its very old school pounding metal the way metalheads love it all around the world. A real buy or die release.

8:38 AM  

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