Violence & Force - 1984 - Megaforce
Long Live The Loud - 1985 - MFN
Unveiling The Wicked - 1986 - MFN
Exciter - 1988 - Maze
Kill After Kill - 1992 - Noise
Better Live Than Dead - 1992 - Noise
The Dark Command - 1997 - Osmose
Blood Of Tyrants - 2000 - Osmose
Thrash, Speed, Burn - 2008 - Massacre
Death Machine - 2010 - Massacre
MembersS= Jet Black>>Dan Beehler>>Kiljoy, Beehler - Crypt>>Rob Malnati - Jet Black, Kiljoy>>Dan Beehler>>Beehler - Jacques Belanger>>Assassin’s Blade - Jacques Belanger>>Assassin’s Blade - Fischel's Beast>>Kenny Winter>>Fischel's Beast
G= John Ricci>>Black Star - Jet Black>>Brian McPhee>>Punch Tube - Black Star>>John Ricci>>Black Star
B= Jet Black>>Allan Johnson>>Beehler, Reverend – Crypt, Kiljoy>>David Ledden>>Miasma & The Carousel Of Headless Horses - Jeff McDonald>>Great Scott - Marc Charron - Peace Colony, Think Tank>>Rob Cohen>>Think Tank, Deathriders
D= Jet Black>>Dan Beehler>>Kiljoy, Beehler – Kiljoy, Beehler>>Dan Beehler>>Beehler - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel, Necronomicon
History & BiographyOttawa's Exciter was one of the leaders of the new extreme wave of metal that swept the underground metal scene in the early ‘80s. Dan and Allan knew one another and the latter man introduced the former to John Ricci. Dan Beehler had joined Allan Johnson's band Jet Black and the two had been jamming. Johnson had put an advertisement in the newspaper looking for a drummer. Dan Beehler had come literally knocking on his door. Jet Black had broken up and Allan Johnson went to audition for Hell Razor. Allan Johnson recommended Dan Beehler when he found out that John Ricci/Hell Razor needed a drummer as well. Beehler would join and be tasked with drumming at first and singing as well later, as John was the very first vocalist, something that was rarely done before and certainly not at the speeds Hell Razor and Exciter operated. Gil Moore of fellow Canadians Triumph did double duty in those days, but was in a hard rock act. Canadians also had Rush as another powerful trio.
Formed in May 1979 (and not 1978 as many remember wrongly), playing cover versions for a while and changing the monicker to Exciter - based on Dan's older brother/the group's roadie Richard Beehler's suggestion - in 1980, they were signed by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records based on the Heavy Metal Maniac demo and given a slot on his U.S. Metal Vol. II compilation even if the band was not from the US. The band Hell Razor was John Ricci's group, which the Jet Black two Dan and Allan had joined. As such, many thought the new Hell Razor is the old Hell Razor (without Dan and Allan) and a new name made sense. First, however, Exciter had driven down to Toronto to record a demo called World War III in 1982. Back to Shrapnel Records, the company had advertised in Guitar Player magazine looking for heavy metal bands and Exciter had submitted a tape. Shrapnel Records was so interested, in fact, that the label asked for the Heavy Metal Maniac demo the band had recorded to become an album. The band had not intended its demo to be an album, but its soundman/roadie John Belrose had done such a good job on an 8-track console that the demo became the debut album. Mike Varney is a God fearing Christian and Exciter's debut record came with an etching saying "In God We Trust." First, however, the band was to open for Black Sabbath in Ottawa in August 1982. The act played the Heavy Metal Maniac songs in that exact order. The opening band Johnny Van Zant had cancelled without notice and the promoter had quickly reached out to the Exciter boys. The concert was postponed by two days due to rain and Johnny Van Zant became unavailable. The debut album was a demo. which the band had intended to press, release and promote independently before Shrapnel asked for it to go on the label. The band had approached record companies in Canada and, as usual, been shot down.
The band had signed to Megaforce next in order to be able to gain opportunities to tour, but there were only four concerts in the New York area with Anthrax. A song called Death Revenge did not meet the band's own seal of approval and was discarded only to be used on a compilation called From The Megavault by Megaforce in 1985. The band supported album number two by opening for Motörhead and Mercyful Fate in Canada and the USA. Violence & Force was coincidentally produced by Carl Canedy of The Rods, which had appeared on, and had production credit, U.S. Metal Vol. II. The record was recorded in 1983, which was when its predecessor was issued. The band's contract was sold to Music For Nations by Megaforce. The band recalls that Megaforce had exchanged Exciter for another band with Music For Nations, but truth was also that the band and Megaforce were quarreling. MFN issued the third record, Long Live The Loud. A proposed European tour with The Rods and Metallica was cancelled. The band had flown to Europe only to find out that poor ticket sales had killed the tour. A hastily arranged pub gig in London is all they got.
Even though the band is often credited with being the first to record a speed/thrash metal album, a series of line-up changes and false labels cost the band much momentum. Only European break came when the band supported Accept in Europe for Long Live The Loud. There were ten concerts on this trek. Guy Bidmead, who had worked with Motörhead recorded Long Live the Loud and Unveiling The Wicked in England. The group also obtained a contract with Montreal's Banzai Records for Canada. The band toured with Motörhead again (this time in Europe) and Manowar, Lȧȧz Rockit and Railway after Unveiling The Wicked in 1986. The band toured with Megadeth for the Long Live The Loud album in the USA. Exciter was the headliner. Feel The Knife was a late 1986 EP. The title track was taken from the Long Live The Loud sessions.
Dan and John were not getting along however. John quit in 1985 and did Black Star instead. John and Dan were not getting along amidst a game of one-upmanship, John accusing Dan of scuttling shows, like one set up by Banzai in Montreal, and their deal with that label and generally the band was not finding a way to become bigger. Brian McPhee, who was with Dan Beehler and Allan Johnson in Jet Black, replaced John Ricci in 1985 and is heard on Unveiling The Wicked. Singer Rob Malnati sang on the self-titled album of 1988. This album, which was also called O.T.T. in Europe, was first recorded with Dan on vocals. That take was scrapped in favour of the new singer Rob. There was pressure to go more commercial and have a new singer at the same time. The band recalls Brian McPhee being interested in making the band softer. The self-titled album's producer Ed Stone was also in favour of a more slick Exciter.
That was it and the band split up in 1988. The band was bleeding members by the time Exciter was released and when Ricci and Beehler put it all together again. Even the revamped line-up was critical of that album and era. Johnson was called and called, but was uninterested in rejoining. He was once bitten twice shy. This reincarnated Exciter first appeared in 1991 on the Capital Punishment sampler released by new manager Manfred Leidecker. David Ledden replaced Allan Johnson.
In the 1990s Noise Records signed the band and Exciter opened for Rage across Western Europe! Again, the band bled members until the Osmose incarnation (with Ricci being the only original member) came into being. Bassist David Ledden played on the Kill After Kill album. He, like Rob Malnati, had arrived from Montreal's Crypt. Bassist Jeff MacDonald stayed for two concerts in 1993, but appeared in the video for the song Rain Of Terror from the Kill After Kill album. Better Live Than Dead was released in 1993, but was recorded in 1991. Beehler had hung it up in 1993 as grunge was in, the label was not paying the band and Johnson was MIA. He was also a new father.
Exciter was always characterized by the banshee wails of Beehler and ripping guitars. Ricci reformed the band without Allan Johnson or Beehler in 1996. Beehler had, in fact, not drummed at all for most of the 1990s. The Dark Command of 1997 was on Osmose Productions of France. A more recent recruit called Belanger seemed to be in and out of the band often. Dead Calm singer Steve Carter was also the band's singer during the summer of 1999. Following the arguments between singer Jacques Belanger and John Ricci in Exciter and the former's departure, the new line-up with ex-Dead Calm singer Steve Carter decided not to record a remake of the band's classic Black Witch for the new album Blood Of Tyrants. Richard Beehler, who had advised Dan to return to Exciter, died in 1999.
In January of 2001, Beehler recruited members and formed a new band called Beehler. Months later Beehler recruited original Exciter bassist Allan Johnson to his cause. Marc Charron left the fold late in 2002. Rob Degroot was also announced as the new singer for Exciter.
Former Exciter frontman Jacques Belanger had rejoined the band in 2003 - he had left and returned several times. Rob Degroot, who had joined the band in autumn of 2002, was asked to leave because "he was not progressing and adapting to Exciter's signature style."
In 2003 the band reported that the line-up is recording sixteen songs of which ten are from the band's back catalogue and five of which are brand new. The album was due out through Osmose in January of 2004. John Ricci was taking care of all guitars and bass on that recording. Osmose Productions licensed the self-cover version re-recorded ‘classics’ album New Testament in North America to The End Records. Belanger sang on it. In the autumn of 2004 the band cancelled a Belgian show because singer Jacques Belanger had a vocal cord in need of surgery. The band soon flew back to Canada.
The band was booked for The Montreal Metal Massacre Fest alongside Razor, DBC, Anvil and Aggression in December of 2005. For the third time in ten years Jacques Belanger quit the band in May of 2006. Due to "differences of opinion” on many issues between Jacques and the rest of the band, the singer had felt he could no longer continue as vocalist for Exciter. The band had to cancel shows in Europe, the USA and Canada, but had completed the writing for a new CD. The new voice of Exciter was American Kenny ‘metalmouth’ Winter from Brooklyn, New York. Fans were due to hear Kenny’s vocal performance on the upcoming new release, Thrash Speed Burn, expected in early 2007. In what the band described as “good news,” Exciter parted ways with Osmose Productions in 2007. The band was looking for a new label for the release of the Thrash Speed Burn album. The label was founded and was called Massacre Records. The group hit the road in Canada in the meanwhile and played at the MQM show in Toronto in the summer. Chainsaw, Picture, Tokyo Blade, Exciter and Tygers Of Pan Tang were some of the bands at 2009’s Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, scheduled for October 23rd and 24th at Manifesto in Hoorn, Holland. Exciter, Necrophobic, Freedom Call, Crashdiet and Udo were participating in a ship cruise called Sweden Rock Cruise departing Stockholm on October 8th, 2009! Thrash metal forerunners Exciter issued a new album, Death Machine, on September 24th through Massacre Records. Bëehler and opener Hirax played at the Metal Attack II festival in São Paulo, Brazil on June 19th, 2011.
It was initially announced in 2014 that guitarist John Ricci had retired from music and Exciter. Subsequently, the band fired bassist Rob "Clammy" Cohen for personal and business reasons in 2014. Apparently, the newer Exciter members were trying to wrest the name from John Ricci and keep going. Thereafter, Ricci returned and announced the Ottawa speed metal band was reforming with its original line-up of singer and drummer Dan Beehler, bassist Allan Johnson and John Ricci in 2014. Ricci had previously categorically stated that the original three would never reunite. The band played the Keep It True festival. The reunited original trio line-up (drummer/vocalist Dan Beehler, guitarist John Ricci and bassist Allan Johnson) performed on March 18th 2016 at Foufounes Électriques in Montreal, Canada. Piledriver opened for Exciter. On September 17th, 2016 Annihilator performed its first show in Western Canada since 1993. Also appearing were to be the recently reformed and original lineup of speed metal pioneers Exciter at its first Western Canadian performance since 1985. The show would be opened by thrash metal veterans Razor and Sacrifice. Calgary’s Gatekrashör would provide the last call entertainment. Jeff Waters of Annihilator was an early fan of Exciter back in Ottawa and had remastered Heavy Metal Maniac, Long Live The Loud, etc. in 2005. Guitarist John Ricci, drummer and vocalist Dan Beehler and bassist Allan Johnson regrouped in early 2018 and were working on a new album. The act appeared at 70,000 Tons Of Metal. The band was in pre-production for a record again.
Original guitarist John Ricci left the band in September 2018 again. The band’s reformation with the original members was off again pending the next incarnation. The group recruited guitarist Daniel Dekay (Diemonds) following the departure of John Ricci in late 2018. Ricci and company were making a new album when, as usual, they split apart. The rest of the band claimed ignorance of the reason for Ricci’s departure following the band’s return from Singapore other than Dan and john were suabbling. Exciter headlined the Hell’s Heroes festival in Houston, Texas, USA on April 13th 2019. The band featured guitarist Daniel Dekay of Aggressor who had replaced original guitarist John Ricci. Dekay was alos the business manager now. The band was opening for Sacred Reich in Toronto in May. Warsenal, Survival Instinct, Twilight Hammer and Exciter played a New Year’s Eve 2020 concert at Hard Luck Bar in Toronto. Vio-lence, Voivod, Exciter and Artillery announced a MTV Headbangers Ball monicker to tour Europe in autumn 2021. Exciter, Vio-Lence, Coroner and Lich King were conducting a mini-tour of the USA in the spring of 2022. This was followed by a run of Canadian dates and a subsequent trip to Europe. Exciter was conducting a mini-tour of the USA in October and November. The band was joined by Night Cobra for three California shows. The band continued to write for a new record. The band was booked for the 2 Minutes To Tulsa show alongside Vicious Rumors, Satan and Night Demon in 2023. The band played several concerts in Texas to commemorate forty years of Heavy Metal Maniac as well as did the same in Europe. Exciter commemorated the fortieth anniversary of its debut album, Heavy Metal Maniac, with a European tour in May and June 2023 focusing on that record’s tracks. Opening at various times were Artillery, Blood Star and Screamer. Exciter was beginning the trek with an appearance at Up The Hammers Festival in Greece. The act appeared at Huggins Awakening Fest VII in 2023. The 40 Years of Heavy Metal Maniac tour of Canada and USA focused on that album in the autumn. The Canadians were booked for Built For Speed 2024 in Mexico where Bat and Omen were opening.
EXCITER - HEAVY METAL MANIAC - SHRAPNEL
EXCITER - VIOLENCE & FORCE - MEGAFORCE
EXCITER - LONG LIVE THE LOUD - MUSIC FOR NATIONS
EXCITER - UNVEILING THE WICKED - MUSIC FOR NATIONS
EXCITER - Same - MAGNETIC AIR/MVD
EXCITER - KILL AFTER KILL - NOISE
EXCITER - BETTER LIVE THAN DEAD - BLEEDING HEARTS
EXCITER - THRASH SPEED BURN - BLISTERING
InterviewsAlong with guitarist John Ricci and bassist Allan Johnson, Dan Beehler, drummer and singer, was one of the founding members of Ottawa-based Exciter. The band’s brand of pounding metal was celebrated by metal fans around the globe through the release of Heavy Metal Maniac in 1983 and Violence & Force in 1984. Things looked up for the Canadians until 1988 when the dissolution seemed to bring the band to an end. Unsurprisingly, the band reformed in 1992 and reappeared on the scene with a new album, which was called Kill After Kill. This was when Beehler picked up the telephone and called into Ali “The Metallian” and his radio show, Sonic Disaster.
METALLIAN: Welcome back! Where have you been all these years?
DAN BEEHLER: Well, you know, John Ricci and myself have been doing solo projects. For John it’s been since 1985 and for me it’s been since 1988. Nothing’s really happened for us. People just want to hear Exciter stuff from us. Our solo stuff didn’t really hit it off. There is something about the chemistry between John Ricci and myself that record companies want to hear, you know? After years of frustration and trying other things, this and that, we had it in the back of our minds that we always wanted to do Exciter. So John called me out of the blue after all those years and asked me if I wanted to jam and put it back together and I said, ‘sure.’ We went out and had a few beers, talked about it and went into rehearsal. It was like magic. It was like 1983, 1984 all over again.
METALLIAN: What were those ‘projects’ you were talking about?
DAN: I had a project called Kiljoy and John Ricci had a project called Blackstar and it was very very different from Exciter because after Exciter I didn’t want to go in… I wasn’t singing, I didn’t want to sing I wanted to concentrate on the drums. I wanted to do something completely different because I had done Exciter for so many year. The same with John… both bands were a lot more progressive than Exciter was. Both bands, I thought, were really good. A lot of people thought they were good. Anytime people in the industry, and Exciter fans, heard my name or John’s name it was ‘hey, man. This doesn’t sound like Exciter.’ We just came to the realization that we were stereotyped, but in the end when we got it together we realized that this is where it’s at and this is what we are all about. When we wrote the new album, Kill After Kill, the new Exciter album we didn’t hardly have to work at it. It was, like I said, 1983 all over again.
METALLIAN: Who is in the band right now? What is the line-up?
DAN: The line-up is John Ricci on guitar, myself on drums and lead vocals and we had someone on the Kill After Kill album called David Ledden. He is actually from Montreal. He used to be in Crypt, but he has since left. He was never really a permanent member. He helped us out to do the album and he just did the European tour, but now we have a new guy. His name is Jeff MacDonald and he is a beast. He is great. We are really happy with him. He is more of a permanent member.
METALLIAN: If that is your line-up, what happened to singer Rob Malnati or guitarist Brian McPhee or original bassist Allan Johnson for that matter? Did you ask them back or were they not interested and do you still have contact with them?
DAN: Well, with Allan when John and I put this whole thing back together we wanted the original band and we phoned Allan up. We told him ‘come on back.’ He came to one rehearsal and he wasn’t into it anymore. We practically begged him for about a month and he wasn’t into it. He’s into other things in his life. He really didn’t think it would take off like it did. We respected his decision and got David.
As far as Rob, he was a singer we brought in for one album under the record company’s supervision and choice. We realized it was a mistake because Exciter fans want to hear my voice. They don’t want to hear a lead vocalist. That was kind of a joke. As for Brian, um, Brian is not the original guitarist. John Ricci is. John and I have put the band back together as far as we are concerned and as far as Exciter fans are concerned John Ricci and I are Exciter. Brian McPhee strayed too far away from what Exciter was all about.
METALLIAN: Do I understand it correctly that you are saying you are disappointed with the self-titled Exciter album and perhaps even Unveiling The Wicked.
DAN: Unveiling The Wicked I didn’t mind it too too much. There is some good stuff on there because Allan, John and myself wrote a lot of that album. I didn’t like the production. The self-titled Exciter album that was done in ’88 I thought was garbage. That was a big reason why the band just… dismembered at that point. I’d had enough. It was more or less a Brian McPhee solo album. It was a new singer and just wasn’t Exciter anymore. If you put on Kill After Kill and compare it to Exciter album you can tell exactly where my mind is at. I wanted to do older Exciter material.
METALLIAN: I remember buying the Exciter album in 1988 and putting it on the tape deck and I was really disappointed.
DAN: I don’t blame you, bud.
METALLIAN: I remember telling my brother back then that this band has sold out or something of that sort. Kill After Kill, however, sounds like Exciter is back and nothing has changed. You have retained the energy.
DAN: Well, you know, it’s really strange. I think, to tell you the truth, it’s a combination of John and I playing together. We wrote 99% of the first three albums. When we got together to do Kill After Kill, like I said, we hardly worked on it. We got together and wrote those nine tunes right away, bang, and there was no magic formula, no… we didn’t sit down to listen to the early albums and try to sound like that. I don’t even think we realized what we had done. We went in, just laid them down in the studio and after a while – we were too close to it – we sat back and listened and said ‘yeah, OK’ and everyone started freaking out and said ‘this is the next Heavy Metal Maniac. Holy Shit.’ It is going over great in Europe and we just did a tour and people… we talk to the fans all the time and they ask ‘how did you do it? You wrote the next Heavy Metal Maniac. Kill After Kill is just like the old days.’ John and I look at each other. All we did was go to a rehearsal hall and write songs the only way we know how.
METALLIAN: How would you describe the style of the new album and do you think it is any different than what you were doing, say, ten years ago?
DAN: To describe the style I think it’s straight ahead power metal. We are not a thrash band. We are fast at times. We do speed metal. We also do… our Black Sabbath influences come out at times. We do slower, medium stuff. We just play because of years and years of frustration and anger. At the end of the day, John and I enjoy doing it. We enjoy playing that music. That's the bottom-line. We are not up there doing what we do because we feel we have to. We are doing it because we enjoy it and it comes across that way. I don’t know. What more can I say about it?
METALLIAN: I want to move the line of questioning. I want to ask you about signing to Noise and why the album isn’t out in North America. I hear that the album will be out, but on Sony, which is a surprise to me. Then again, Noise US has gone under. How does that affect you?
DAN: We did get signed very quickly to Noise. The album has been out in Europe since April and we have toured it over there. It’s gone very well, but something happened. Noise US went under and they lost their deal with BMG. The latest I heard was that they were supposed to do a deal with Sony in America and I just heard in the past week that that has fallen through as well so we are not very happy right now with the record company. I don’t want to say too much right now here, but it doesn’t look too good for America. I am not sure when Kill After Kill is going to come out. It was supposed to be out by now so we are not really happy right now.
METALLIAN: Well, surely someone will pick it up.
DAN: We will definitely get it released here, but it’s just a matter of it should have been out months ago. It is a big delay and it is really too bad. I wish it was out now.
METALLIAN: You toured Germany with Rage. How did that go? Did you get along with that band?
DAN: Oh yeah, Rage is great. We became very very good friends. We had an amazing tour with a lot of fun. Both bands ended up watching each other every night. They really got into us and we really got into them. It was a lot of fun. Just for John and I to get back on the road together it really boosted our confidence because when we flew over there we were really afraid of how our reception was going to be and if people remembered Exciter. All of these bleak things are going through our heads, but when we got there we realized there still is a lot of Exciter fans out there.
METALLIAN: That was going to be my next question. Do you feel as if you are starting from scratch?
DAN: Well, we do, you know? We are not doing big arenas or anything like that obviously. We do have to start from the bottom. A lot of dedicated Exciter fans kept coming up to us saying ‘why are you backing up Rage? Why are you opening these shows? You should be headlining’ and all the stuff that people tend to say about their favourite bands, but John and I replied to that with ‘we have been out of the business on a national scale for a long time. We cannot just come back in like a ton of bricks. We have to start from the bottom. We don’t care who we open for. We don’t care how big the stage is. We just want to play and take it one step at a time.
METALLIAN: One hears that Exciter is releasing a live album. What is the story behind that?
DAN: Well, we had some tapes from last year from some local shows that we did and we brought them back into the studio, remixed it, cleaned it all up and took the best songs. There are thirteen songs that are from the fist three albums – sort of a ‘best of’ of what we put down. It is called Better Live Than Dead and it is in the can right now. The album cover is done. We are talking to five different companies that are interested in it. We are either going to get signed or release it on our own.
METALLIAN: Let me get this straight. Does that imply that the deal with Noise was a one-album one?
DAN: No, the deal with Noise was for more than one album, but this live album is material that we had before we signed the deal. We are free to shop it anywhere.
METALLIAN: You are not under contract with Megaforce, are you?
METALLIAN: Could you compare the scene, as you see it, with the metal scene of ’82 or ’83? What difference do you see?
DAN: It is strange because in ’82 or ’83 there was such a big surge of heavy metal. In ’84 we were playing in front of 1,000 people at the Spectrum in Montreal. We were selling out The Concert Hall in Toronto. I find after being all over the world all these years that Canada has always been behind as far as the metal scene goes. In the last year there is a big resurgence of heavy metal in Canada. With people like Drew Masters of M.E.A.T. Magazine it is hard for Canadians to ignore that there is Canadian metal talent here. We are here and we are Canadian. We have never left the country. It is about time for Canadians to realize the talent is that within the country. It is not as big a resurgence as it was ten years ago, but I think it is turning around.
METALLIAN: How could we compete with the Americans, for example?
DAN: Well, I don’t think we can. We sell more albums in the state of New York than we do in the country of Canada. So you are looking at a population thing. We can do a show in Vancouver and the next show might not be until Toronto. Canada is a big country with not many people if you look at it. If you put us on tour in the States there is no comparison. It’s a population thing, but at the same time there are a lot of people into metal than have been in the last few years.
METALLIAN: When will we see Exciter live here in Montreal?
DAN: I just heard that we are starting a little Canadian tour here in Ottawa actually. It will be in Hull at Roxanne’s. We are going to play a club called Backstreet. I am pretty sure that is in late October or early November so we are taking it back on the road. We are doing this part of Canada anyway and then going back to Europe, the States and there is talk of Japan, but nothing has been confirmed.
METALLIAN: The last word is yours.
DAN: To the people of Montreal: people who are listening who are into Exciter, we are back. The maniac is back. Our new album, Kill After Kill, will be in stores soon. I am sure you can pick it up at Rock En Stock. Come out and see us and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
This interview was originally heard on CRSG cable radio in Montreal.
If you enjoyed this, read Exumer