SOURCE – What was your experience like playing in the Brazil for the first time in 1986 with Venom?
John Ricci (Guitars) – Actually in 1986 I was not in Exciter, unfortunately I left the band in August 1985, a decision I still regret today. I was out of Exciter from 1985-90 until Dan Beehler and myself reunited and released Kill After Kill and Better Live Than Dead in the early 90’s. From what Dan and Allan told me about the Venom gig in 86′ it was an over the top performance and the crowd went crazy, they told me it was a very positive experience to play in front of a Brazilian audience for the first time, the fans are so passionate about our music!
SOURCE – What expectations do you have for this forthcoming South America tour with Sacred Reich? This seems like a killer, diverse package for the fans of various genres of metal…
John Ricci (Guitars) – Well I think both us and Sacred Reich come from the same era when thrash and speed metal started to emerge, I think it’s a great package! Even though our musical styles our different the message is the same, it’s all about the ‘metal’ and thrashing out to great songs from both bands. I’m sure Exciter fans will like Sacred Reich and visa versa. Afterall metal is metal and as long as the music is loud and heavy the fans will react!
SOURCE – Making a set list at this point, even in a headlining situation, could be a nightmare for Exciter. What discussions take place to pull together a balance between the old, the new, and possibly a couple of personal favorites amongst the band members?
John Ricci (Guitars) – When we write the set list we combine songs from the first 3 albums (1983-85) with the exception of songs from the Kill After Kill album (1990). It is a difficult task because Exciter have such good songs, we have no ‘filler’ songs on our albums or in our live set. We try to pace ourselves so we can deliver the most intense performance song after song and blow the audience away! Ah… The 3 of us make the decisions which songs will be in the set, we always aim to please the audience, in our opinion the audience comes first it’s not so much which songs we personally like playing live.
SOURCE – What would you consider some of the highlights of Exciter’s career – in terms of recording memories, particular tours/ festivals, or just special memories that remain forever embedded in you?
John Ricci (Guitars) – Over Exciter’s long career we have had many good memories. Every experience has been so gratifying from recording in the studio to playing amazing live shows around th world. We have a lot of cool stories which would take a lifetime to tell but one cool story is when we toured the USA in the summer of 1985 with Megadeth, one night Dave Mustaine asked me if he could join us on stage and play with us (we played Pounding Metal) we were so honoured that he would consider doing that with us! It was quite the historic event. When we started to play the song and Dave walked on stage and started to play with us the crowd went absolutely crazy!
SOURCE – When you sing the older songs, do you sing them as they were originally done, or do you put your own twist on them?
John Ricci (Guitars) – No, we play the songs exactly like the original versions. I find when you try to modernize old songs they are not as intense as the original versions. When you are recording music for the very first time there is ‘an energy’ that can’t be duplicated. Therefore we try to play the songs the way you hear them on record. We are one of the few bands that sound the same as you hear on record. In the studio we try not to sound too polished, we prefer the raw, trashy live sound.
SOURCE – Where do you see the major differences in terms of Exciter’s output and popularity today compared to the first go around in the 1980’s?
John Ricci (Guitars) – Our popularity (since our reunion in 2014) has been the best ever! We’ve had so many show offers we had to turn some down because of a schedule conflict or because of our availability. I think young people who are into metal investigate the origins of speed and thrash and then they discover us and become instant fans! Unfortunately a lot of bands that we shared a one-time profile with in the 80’s have gone on and become big-time artists and we remained the same level of limited success as in the 80’s.
SOURCE – Being one of the veterans of the metal scene, where do you see the state of things in terms of structure and support compared to your early beginnings in the 1980’s?
John Ricci (Guitars) – We never got support from the music industry, we had to do everything ourselves. We only had over the years a few key individuals that believed in the band and would try to support us and try to make us go forward but even though we have this kind of underground cult following we never had huge success. We made decisions (right or wrong) hoping it would propel us to a higher status but it never happened. So, to this day we do everything ourselves, we manage ourselves and I personally don’t trust anyone in the music industry.
SOURCE – In terms of Exciter’s legacy, have you found that there have been more people saying that the band is the reason they started a band or that you were influential to people?
John Ricci (Guitars) – We get so many comments from bands and fans who tell me how we influenced them which is very flattering but I think the reason we’ve influenced so many people is that we always did our own thing with our music, we never tried to copy anyone, we always tried to sound original and not give in to any trends. I feel we are responsible for being one of the bands that started the whole speed and thrash movement.
SOURCE – In recent years, the way of consuming music is gone more from purchasing to streaming. Do you have any thoughts on that?
John Ricci (Guitars) – Well it’s easier to acquire new music on the Internet and I’m sure bands become more popular faster. So, I have no problem with legal downloading where bands still get royalties. Streaming sometimes good be a good thing or a bad thing for the artist. I’m kind of undecided about this whole streaming thing?
SOURCE – Thanks so much for talking with me. Anything else you wanna say?
John Ricci (Guitars) – We are really looking forward to the Brazil shows as well as the other countries we will be visiting, Argentina, Chile, Peru. We will play fast, hard and loud!!! South America here we come!