Interview with John Ricci
Welcome back , Heavy Metal Maniacs, we missed you so much ! Did you miss us too ? Your fans, those glorious times , Metal loud and proud way, did you miss it all ?
Well actually while the original band was not together ( 1996-2013 ) I kept on with Exciter with a different line-up, toured the world and made records. So, the fans were still there for us but many times when I would talk to fans and journalists at the shows they would tell me how much they wished the original line-up would get back together , which at that time was the furthest thing from my mind. But I guess it was fate that brought the 3 back together. As a result we are getting booked 2 years in advance by various promoters which makes us feel the people are still interested in our music.
What’s the story behind the original Exciter lineup getting back together ? It seemed like it was never gonna happen ?
After the previous line-up broke up all I wanted to do is take some time off and not even think about bands or musicians but in early 2014 I got visit from Dan and he expressed interest to re-unite with Allan and myself and start all over again, he told me we should do it for the fans and the fact we probably still have some good music in us to share with world. It took me about a week to decide yes lets do it !
Wasn’t it one of your roadies suggesting that new name in 1980 ? Anyway, did you really have roadies already at that early stage ?
We`ve always had roadies, our roadies are our close friends that have always been supportive no matter what we did . Yes, it was Richard Beehler ( Dan`s brother ) that suggested the name Exciter. It`s no secret we got the name from the Judas Priest song `Exciter`. His opinion was the energy and essence of the that song captured what were all about ! Before that my previous band was called Hell Razor before Allan and Dan joined up with me, we actually continued using that name up till 1980 before we made the name change. When we were know as Hell Razor we were basically a cover band but then when we decided to start writing our own music we wanted a fresh start with a new name and attitude.
How did you first get into Heavy Metal ? When did you discover Heavy Metal ? What was your first Metal album? What did you like in this kind of metal then, and why was it without any doubt better than other genres of music ?
As far as the term `Heavy Metal ` for myself I go way back to the 60`s when I first heard a distorted guitar tone on an album like for example the first Black Sabbath record. I liked the aggression and the dark message of these mind-blowing guitar riffs , I think that was when I got hooked for life onto Heavy Metal. Even though I like and I can play all styles of music, Metal music is what has kept me going since I started to play guitar and dreamed of playing in a Metal band and making records.
What should peoples expect before listening to Exciter and would you advice so that they feel in the right conditions for your sounds ?
Our music is basically a stress reliever type of music , it`s fast and aggressive. I`ve talked to all kinds of people that listen to our music for therapy when their down and out ,they tell me it helps them re-think their situation with a positive attitude and makes them carry on.
What do you think of the production of Exciter all this 37 years ?
If you`re asking about the production of our records , it`s always been a challenge in the studio to capture what we really sound like, I think thats why our first record Heavy Metal Maniac set the template for the records that followed. We could never recapture that `garage sound` again on any of our albums to this day. As far as the production when a band is in the studio, their producer has to have an `insight` on what the band is all about ? it`s like have an additional member in the band but the only difference is the he`s working the gear in the studio.
Have you ever felt yourselves to be the prisoners of your frst album ? You see, besides being a milestone Metal record, it has also confined you severely within its very strict borders, as the fans simply wouldn’t accept anything different from Exciter. So I wonder, aren’t you going to start hating your own creation “Heavy Metal Maniac” one day because of that ?
Yes, we are a prisoners of our first record because the circumstances have never been the same and it`s impossible to duplicate the sound again. The first record was not meant to be an actual album , it was just meant to be a 9 song demo to sop around record companies and then if we got signed our plan was to re-record it in a proper studio not in the basement of our sound technician`s house .
In your opinion, which one of your classic albums has been more important to put Exciter among the top class bands of Speed Metal ?
Of course HMM, everyone around the world knows the first album most of all and when we play in concert HHM and Stand Up and Fight the 2 signature songs the crowd goes crazy ! It will very difficult to match that ever again.
How long did you spend to compose and record all these albums ? Is it about months or years ? Is it always easy to find a guitar part to follow this killer riff you found ? Does everything happen “live” in the rehearsal room, or do you need to record songs and take some distance to hear what’s not efficient enough ?
When we write songs we always weed out the weak riffs and we don`t use them . I always go to rehearsal with a main riff and then the 3 of us develop it from there . Like I mentioned its very difficult to write classic Exciter riffs that have not been done before by some other band. The challenge is even great today, because every theme every title every riff has been thought of already by some other band. The early albums took about a month to record and mix , that`s about the longest time spent recording and album beyond that in my opinion of you spend longer recording the material definitely goes stale.
Is there something you regret doing or not doing with your Metal Career ?
I have no regrets except for one, quitting the band from 1985-90 , I should of stuck it out, things may of been different today.
What does Speed Metal mean for you ? Do you think you could play another kind of Metal on command ?
Yes I / we can play any type of Metal if need to be but we are in a comfort zone playing our own style and we don t try to be anything that we`re not.
If you had the change to go back in time and change something in your career, would you do it ? If so, what would that change involve ?
I wouldn`t change anything , what happened happened, there`s a reason for everything .
What was the Metal scene like in Ontario in old days ? You had bands like Anvil, Slaughter and Piledriver in Toronto while you guys were in Ottawa. Were the two scenes completely separate ?
Yes, the two scenes were completely different, Ottawa was so far behind ( and still is ) on picking up new musical trends, it was very difficult trying to get any respect in our home town. That situation still exists today, people in Ottawa have a hard time accepting the fact that we are an international band that is partially responsible for creating Speed/Thrash Metal . The 2 strongest markets in Canada for Metal music is Calgary and Montreal and we get more support in those cities than Ottawa.
Allright ! Tell us about your band Future ! It’s time to conclude, so feel free to spit the last words, and do it an original way if possible , Thanks for the answers !
We`ve been trying to write new material but we`ve been so busy playing shows since 2014 we haven`t been able to focus on the new stuff, we`re hoping within the next two years we have a new record out.
Interviewer : Med Manef Slama