The Jimmy Cabbs 5150 Interview Series conducted an interview with the reunited original lineup of Canadian thrash metal pioneers EXCITER — guitarist John Ricci, drummer/vocalist Dan Beehler and bassist Allan Johnson prior to the band's June 22 appearance at Los Angeles Strikefest. You can watch the entire chat in two parts below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On EXCITER still being able to draw strong crowds:
Dan: "It's awesome. It's great. Like you said — it's like 1983 all over again. The young people are taking the metal thing over so well. It's more and more young people and we noticed here in L.A., it's great, they're really passing on the torch. It's cool. We're looking forward to it."
Allan: "It's encouraging. You see all the young people coming out and it's encouraging to know that the resurgence is happening, but it's a whole new fanbase coming along for the ride. It's great."
John: "I think the kids are going back to discover the origins of metal and all of the sudden, boom, EXCITER pops up and it's like, 'Who are these guys?' Then they discover where the whole genre and the whole '80s vibe came from. When we play shows like this, they go, 'We got to go check this band out. This is where it all started.' Most of the young people we talk to at the shows, that's what they tell us. They want to go back to the roots and we're a roots-rooted band. [Laughs]"
On EXCITER's music maintaining its relevance:
Dan: "It's pretty wild. It's pretty surprising. We never thought back then that we'd be going today, but it's pretty cool. We're the band, so we're not going to sit here and really talk about ourselves, but, everybody comes up to us and is really starting to realize what we did back then. Like you said, the music stands the test of time. It's pure metal played at its hardest. We're one of the last old-school bands that are together."
Allan: "It's exactly what he said. I go back to being encouraged again. It's encouraging to know that everything we did way back then is still relevant and current and everybody is still into it. That's what keeps us going."
John: "We were talking to our promoter last night, Taylor, and he was saying we're the 'real deal.' There's a lot of bands who get up there and try to do the speed and the thrash, but they said, 'You guys are the real deal.' He told us younger bands should check us out because we're playing it for real. We created the vibe. We're responsible for the vibe. When we play, we're not posing. [Laughs] It comes right from the insides. We've always, always been like that. Every single performance, no matter if we're playing Los Angeles or in Europe or South America. When we start into a song, the crowd reacts exactly like they did in the '80s because they feel the music. They feel the vibe and then when we see the reaction from the audience, it's like 'Oh yeah! This is it!' We feel like we're 24 years old."
On the chemistry between EXCITER when they're working on new music:
Dan: "It's the same as the old music. We got back together, it was like, we played 'Stand Up And Fight', the first song, it was like we took a week off. Everything fell together. We just had this chemistry in the '80s that we still have now. Like I said, it just slipped back together. The chemistry is great. We feel like we've been playing forever."
On whether EXCITER feels any stress while composing new material:
Allan: "It can be stressful. I mean, there's a lot of pressure on us, too. It's going to have to be great and we know that and that's why we're being really fussy with what we're putting out. We're taking our time. At first, we were pressured and we thought, 'Let's just take the pressure off and take our time, do it right.' We got to do it right. So far so good. We're happy with what we got so far."
John: "We're being really careful about the new music that we put out because it has to stand up to the old stuff. We feel kind of pressured. We don't want to put out a weak record, and, like Al said, we're taking our time to make sure the music is going to be just as explosive as it was back in the day when we were making albums together."
Dan: "It's the same things that these guys said. The pressure is on. We don't go around chewing our nails or anything like that, but we enjoy the challenge. But, again, we're not going to race out and put out an album just to please everybody who wants to hear a new EXCITER album. We always pleased ourselves with those first albums and then we hoped the world followed and that's what we're going to do. When we're ready, we're going to release it and not before."
On the band's future plans:
John: "We have some more shows. We're doing Germany in August and we're doing a gig in Singapore, also in August. We do, at this point in our career, we do most of the time, one-off shows. We do have some exceptions when we do a lot of Brazilian and South American dates. We have a good agent down there. That's the only time we actually tour. Otherwise, we do these one-off shows, but those are the next gigs coming up. Like I said, we're in pre-production. There's new songs coming out of us all the time, but we want to really jell the new stuff before we have anyone hear it. That's where we are right now. It's going to come out EXCITER no matter what, but we want the songwriting to be really, really strong. We can't come out with a weak album. We keep emphasizing that. We were talking earlier, people have very high expectations because it's the original three guys. We just want to make sure this music is strong."
The original EXCITER lineup recorded three classic albums in the 1980s — "Heavy Metal Maniac" (1983), "Violence & Force" (1984) and "Long Live the Loud" (1985) — before Ricci left the group and was replaced by Brian McPhee.
EXCITER's latest album, "Death Machine", which featured Ricci as the sole remaining original member, was released in October 2010 via Massacre Records.
Ricci, Beehler and Johnson reunited as EXCITER in 2014 and have been playing sporadic shows ever since.