Interview with John Ricci (guitar)
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: January 3, 2011
MetalMike: Congratulation on the new album, Death Machine! How has the public reaction been since it was released?
John: The reviews for the new record have been mostly excellent with high ratings. Both fans and journalists have responded very positively. This album is more basic musically speaking than our previous effort Thrash Speed Burn. Exciter has never been about flash, just straight ahead metal to pound the senses!
MetalMike: Death Machine has a definite old-school Thrash sound, not surprising considering Exciter has been around since the late 70s/early 80s. Was there a conscious effort to go for that old school sound or is that just the type of music you enjoy writing and playing?
John: Every time we enter the studio we do not try to get the old school production, it is definitely not intentional. The last two records we've recorded have been in studios with digital consoles and all kinds of software but we still come out sounding like we recorded in a garage. I think we get this traditional old school sound perhaps because myself and Clammy, our bassist, use Marshall amps from the 70s and 80s therefore we get this very mid-range distorted unprocessed rough tone. We don't use any effects or processors, just guitar and amp; we may use a little reverb or delay in the final mix otherwise all the instruments are recorded raw. We actually try to get a slicker production but it never happens. Exciter's music has always stayed to the roots, like you say we enjoy playing the same intense style over and over, album after album.
MetalMike: The lyrics on the new album deal with violence and torture. What drew you to this subject matter? Are the band members horror movie fans or did you approach this from a more historical perspective?
John: Yes, I am a fan of horror movies and so are the other guys. I write most of the lyrics and music (sometimes Kenny, our singer, will edit the lyrics to make them more suitable for his voice). There are only so many topics you can write about when playing metal; war, destruction, death, Satan and torture, etc. I was inspired this time by slasher movies but on the other hand you hear about these terrible stories in the news about people who have been held captive for years and tortured! What kind of person would do that to another person! I don t understand it. It seems so inhumane!
MetalMike: You mentioned, on your MySpace page, that you recorded each instrument separately, a more modern approach, on Death Machine. Safe to assume it was different in the past? How did this new approach work for you? Safe to say you are happy with the results?
John: In the past we would always record guitar, bass and drums as the foundation basic track then we would add second guitar parts, solos and all the vocal tracks. We found because in the studio we couldn't isolate all the instruments properly we would get this muddy sound. This time Rik and I did the drums and guitar first. We kept the drum tracks and scrapped the guitar parts. Once Rik removed his drum kit from the recording room I set up my Marshalls and re-recorded all the guitar parts, and added solos. Once all the guitar parts were confirmed and ok, Clammy played the bass parts and then of course Kenny's vocals were last. This procedure helped but it was harder to play tight musically, it was definitely more challenging and it measured how good of a musician you are!
MetalMike: Have you had a chance to play the new material from Death Machine live? How are the audiences reacting to it?
John: We haven't played any new songs yet live in concert. Our first time will be in March when we tour South America; we will play "Death Machine," "Slaughtered in Vain" and "Pray for Pain". Basically, we will see how they react to these particular songs and if they shout out other new songs then that will give us reference what to play next time.
MetalMike: I really liked the guitar solo at the end of "Skull Breaker." Very old school! What was the inspiration for including that at the end of the album?
John: The guitar solo was just an idea; it was improvised on the spot. We didn't have a 10th track so I suggested I play a solo and if it worked we would keep it and if it didn't we'd throw it out. Everyone seemed to like it so we kept it.
MetalMike: Each band member cites some fairly traditional influences, like Judas Priest and Motorhead, yet Exciter is much different from either of those bands. Who were and are some of your influences from the Thrash field?
John: Even though we have always been inspired by Priest, Motorhead and Sabbath we don't sound anything like them. I feel it is important to have your own original style and not copy anyone. Exciter has never had any other thrash band influences. After all, all the thrash bands emerged from the early 80s so we were all evolving at the same time.
MetalMike: Are there any current bands you like to listen to?
John: Other bands that I listen to are Arch Enemy, Cannibal Corpse, High On Fire, Destruction, etc.
MetalMike: Any bands from the 80s, who are no longer together, you'd like to be able to go back in time and see?
John: I m not very retrospective there are not any old bands from the 80 s that have broken up that I would like to see again.
MetalMike: What is next for Exciter? Touring? More albums?
John: In 2011 we have shows booked which are the following:
March 24-27, South America
April 23, Toronto, Canada
May 7,Madrid, Spain
August 20, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
And of course, there will be many Exciter records to follow year after year!
MetalMike: Do you get a lot of requests for the old material and does that bother you or are you comfortable with the band's past?
John: Fans always request the old songs which are a pleasure to play. If it wasn't for the old classic songs I wouldn't be here today. Our set list is usually 50% old stuff and 50% newer stuff. I am not bothered at all if fans request old songs, these songs set the foundation and recognition that Exciter have today!
MetalMike: Which countries have been your favorites to play? Is there anywhere you haven't been yet you'd like to visit and/or play?
John: Germany definitely has the largest Exciter fan base, we can't do wrong in that country! I would like to play Japan someday; I know we have fans there.
MetalMike: As I mentioned, Exciter has been around for quite a while. What are some of the lessons you've learned during your time in the music, specifically heavy metal, business? What things would you pass on to young bands starting out?
John: The most important lesson I learned in the music business is don't trust anyone. Try to do as much by yourself as possible. If you sign a record deal make sure you retain your publishing rights. If you have a manager make sure he shows you financial statements on a regular basis. These are some of the reasons Exciter is self-managed.
MetalMike: Again, congratulations on the new album. Anything we didn't cover you'd like to talk about?
John: I would like to thank the fans for keeping the Exciter dream alive. Without the fans we would not exist. A big horns up thank you to all our fans!
MetalMike: Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule and good luck! Hope to see you in the States soon!
John: As I mentioned earlier we will be playing Thrashageddon 111 in Albuquerque, August 20th. We do have other USA dates tentative at this time!Thank you MetalMike !
|Other information about Exciter on this site|
|Review: Thrash Speed Burn|
|Review: New Testament|
|Review: Death Machine|
|Review: Death Machine|
|Interview with drummer and vocalist Dan Beehler and bassist Allan Johnson on December 20, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with guitarist John Ricci on November 13, 2017 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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