It’s a privilege to talk to Exciter, a band active since 1980 and an undisputed legend in the Metal universe. More than 10 studio albums, some of them considered as classic jewels of our music, and hundreds of great gigs in their pocket, few bands can offer such a wide collection of achievements. So, let’s go for it!
Hello Exciter, you are right now on tour. In fact, you have been in Argentina recently, how was it going?
Our South American tour we did recently was great. We co-headlined with Nuclear Assault and we drew approx 1000 fans per show. We played Argentina,Chile and Brazil. Rock and heavy metal is alive and well in South America. These fans are very passionate about metal, as we arrived at the Buenos Aires airport there were fans waiting for us for autographs and photos. A lot of them had the original pressings of our vinyl records.
Everyone from the fans to the crew that worked the shows were very pleasant and accommodating to us and made us feel very welcomed in their country.
Exciter was in his day kind of a revolution in the Metal world, you are a power trio, with Dan Beehler in the drums and vocals. How do you remember the first years of Exciter, when you were still building your name and brand?
We originally played cover songs before we started writing our own music. Everyone in our hometown never thought we would become an international touring band. In Canada specifically we were never taken seriously and we had for the most part no support by the Canadian music industry. It was very difficult for us to make a name for ourselves.We approached all kinds of industry people, managers, agents, record companies but they all brushed us off. Everything we accomplished we accomplished by ourselves, there was no one to give us advice or give us financial backing. Our first record we financed ourselves and the studio gear that we used was very primitive and outdated equipment, but thats all we could afford but in some magical way our first record Heavy Metal Maniac has been the most successful to this day. Little that we knew we were creating a fresh genre of heavy metal that was never done before. So, the success of our first record took us by surprise!
Eleven studio albums in your handbag… Is there a favorite one? Or may be one of them that you think represents better what Exciter is? Please, don’t tell me that this is the typical question as whom you love more, mama o papa, hahahaha
I like the first 3 albums because I have favourite songs on each of those albums but I guess if I had to narrow it down it would have to be the first record, HMM. The albums that followed we had a difficult time with the production trying to capture the `essence` of our first record. It seemed no matter what studio we recorded in, in later years we just couldn`t get the same vibe as HMM, because it was so raw and garage like.
I know this is a difficult question with so a long career as yours, and so “exciting”, but if you had to pick up the best moment of the band to frozen and show it to your grandsons, it would be…?
We had so many highlights in the band`s career. One of the biggest tours we did was in the 80`s, with Motorhead, Mercyful Fate. There were a lot of great moments during that tour and alot of promotional flyers from that tour. , so I am very proud of touring with such great and influential bands.
The late 80’s was a time of changes for Heavy Metal, the sound was turning more commercial and big or small acts, all the same, were entering into that tunnel. However, Exciter was sounding a little bit more melodic but keeping all the aggressiveness you have always delivered in your songs, I think you can stay proud, and almost alone with a few more bands, as guys who never gave up their roots and personal style…
We`ve always stayed to our musical roots. A lot of bands feel pressured with the different waves of trends and pressure from their record companies and managers. We never had that problem basically because any record company that would sign us would expect from us the music that originally made us known around the world, so there has been no need to change. Fans always thank us for staying to our roots. I mean in my opinion you have stick to your roots otherwise we would end up sounding like every other band and we would lose our identity. The 3 of us have the same musical vision when we write songs, so the approach to song writing is tunnelled into fast and loud aggression, the Exciter way !
The composition, the quality of the songs, the vibe and the energy are the key when we think about success in the Metal business, as it’s your case. But there was a time when the cover art was high valued and I think you have delivered first class Metal albums, but you were also easy to recognise by your album covers. What do you think? Is the cover art not so much valued nowadays as before?
I still think the artwork on your album cover is very important because you want it to stand out in the bins of your local record store plus the fact usually album covers translate into t-shirts as well. The cover will tell the story what the music is going to like on the record. We`ve always taken the same approach to come up with a unique album cover so at first glance you know its an Exciter record and easy to spot.Sometimes when you see an album cover with too much art and you can`t even read the band`s name, I find that very annoying. Sometimes plain and simple is the best thats what the Exciter philosophy is !
Imagine you could go back in time to the 80’s, with all the experience and knowledge you have right now. Would you warn the Metal industry and the bands about the Grunge wave that was coming or you would just walk your own path once again?
The best thing to do when new waves of music are about to be born ( like grunge in the 80`s) is to just follow your path and don`t be influenced by any other kind of music otherwise if you try to copy the `new trend` most likely you would not do a good job of it anyway, so whats the use ?
Bands that are strong-willed will not conform to trends, like alot of great bands that started in the late 60`s and early 70`s.
Exciter has a killing live sound, a Metal thunder, will we have the chance to see you in Spain with your show?
We have played Spain twice before with the former line-up of Exciter but with the original line-up we haven`t. At this time there are no plans to play Spain. We`ve had some offers but the offers have not been good enough, so we`ll wait till the right offer comes along.
As I mentioned we`ve played Spain previously and there`s been local Spanish support bands on the bill but I don`t recall any of them.
Death Machine was released in 2010, that is five years ago, enough time to test and taste it, how do you feel about it?
The production on Death Machine wasn`t what we expected so the songs did not translate the way they should of. Unfortunately our schedules did not allow us to be in the studio at the same time so the album sounds very dis-jointed and I think the former musicians didn`t grasp the songs either. So, with all this in mind I think the album suffered and it could of been a much stronger record. I think the best thing I like about this record is the cover artwork, the girl and chainsaw, ha, ha !
Do you have in mind to release a new album in the near future?
Now that we`ve finished touring for this year we have some down time so we are writing new songs and hope for a release sometime in 2016.
The new record will be on Massacre Records (Germany). The music will be more of the same, it will probably sound like a continuation of our early records.
What do you think about the Heavy Metal scene nowadays?
The metal scene today is over- saturated. There are so many bands trying to do the same thing to become rockstars that there missing the point of trying to be creative and original. So many times when there are support bands at our shows I cant tell them apart, they all sound the same. I do have an open mind about all genres of metal, when I listen to music I hear it as `art` so no matter what it is, death, goth, speed, thrash etc it all has substance and merit but the problem is every band is trying to sound like the band with the biggest following therefore they loose their direction and focus for any kind of success.
There is a revival wave at the moment in such subgenres as Heavy Metal, Thrash, Death…, and many bands are inspired by such big acts as Exciter. What do you think of those revival bands?
I`m glad that new bands recognize the origins of speed and thrash etc. Many bands that we meet on the road tell us how much of an influence we are to them and in some cases try to sound exactly like us or even play their versions of our songs. I find this very complimentary. With this kind of response to our music I know we`ve made a difference in the metal world. It just reassures me that by staying to the music that is close to our heart that we created we have made a difference to the lives of fans and musicians.
What are your plans for the future?
The plan now is to write songs and release a new record hopefully between now and Feb. Then, so far the confirmed shows in 2016 are, Play It Loud Fest, Feb.13 Italy, Maryland Deathfest, May.24, USA, Metalfest at Reggies Club, July 16, Chicago,USA.
It was an honor to chat a little with such a legend a Exciter, thank you very much guys. If you wish to add something…
We`d like to thank all the fans for supporting us over the 30 + years through all the line-up changes and albums and now finally the original-line-up
lives again and is still grinding metal to everyone around the world.