Violence And 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 (live) - 1992 - Noise
The Dark Command - 1997 - Osmose
Blood Of Tyrants - 2000 - Osmose
Thrash, Speed, Burn - 2008 - Massacre
Death Machine - 2010 - Massacre
S= Dan Beehler>>Killjoy, Beehler - Rob Malnati - Killjoy>>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 - Brian McPhee - Black Star>>JOHN RICCI>>Black Star
B= Alan Johnson>>Beehler – Crypt, Killjoy>>David Ledden - Jeff McDonald>>Great Scott - Marc Charron - Rob Cohen>>Deathriders
D= Dan Beehler>>Killjoy, Beehler – Killjoy, Beehler>>Dan Beehler>>Beehler - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel
Ottawa's Exciter was one of the leaders of the new extreme wave of metal that swept the underground metal scene in the early ‘80s.
Formed in 1979, 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 compilation. 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. The band supported album number two by opening for Motörhead in Canada and the USA. A proposed European tour with The Rods and Metallica was cancelled. Only European break came when the band supported Accept in Europe for Long Live The Loud. Gary Bidmead who had worked with Motörhead recorded this album in England.
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. This reincarnated Exciter first appeared in 1991 on the Capital Punishment sampler released by new manager Manfred Leidecker.
In the nineties 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.
Exciter was always characterized by the banshee wails of Beehler and ripping guitars. 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 summer of 1999.
In January of 2001, Beehler recruited members and formed a new band called Beehler. Months later Beehler recruited original Exciter bassist Alan 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. 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 re-recorded ‘classics’ album New Testament in North America to The End Records. 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 found 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. 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 Ricci. 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.
EXCITER - Same - MAGNETIC AIR/MVD
EXCITER - THRASH SPEED BURN - BLISTERING
Along with guitarist John Ricci and bassist Alan 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 Killjoy 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 Alan 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 Alan when John and I put this whole thing back together we wanted the original band and we phoned Alan 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 Alan, 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