On Thursday (April 30), bassist Allan Johnson and guitarist Daniel Dekay of Canadian thrash metal pioneers EXCITER spoke to The Metal Voice about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band's long-awaited new album.
"We are in the demo stages still," Dekay said. "I know it seems like a long time since we last talked about it, but we've made a lot of progress. We have demos of the songs. I got the recordings with scratch guitars on 'em — Al Johnson does scratch guitars on demos; him and Dan [Beehler, drums/vocals] are an incredible team.
"My first [impression of] the songs was that they really did sound like old-school, aggressive, second-album EXCITER; it really does like sound 'Violence [& Force]' aggressiveness. Even with the shitty scratch guitar tone that Al sent me, it sounded like I could get what he was going for, with the high frequencies and stuff. It does sound like old school, and Dan sounds awesome. And there's some off-rhythm stuff, which was kind of what I always loved about EXCITER — it's not always fucking four-on-the-floor, classic straight-up; there's a lot of groove and there's a lot of feel. And there's no clicks; it's not a band that is recording demos with clicks right now; it's totally just off of feel. And doing it onto tape. It's crazy — they're doing drums onto tape. It's insane. It's fucking ridiculous. I'm not even joking."
Asked how many songs have been completed thus far, Dekay said: "Al and Dan have well more than an album written. We're really shopping around on a chunk of songs trying to find a home for the album still… They're completed songs, but they're pre-production demos. They'll get done with a proper budget once we find the right home and plan for it. We are trying to take this approach that it's been this long, we may as well fucking do it right."
Dekay replaced original guitarist John Ricci in late 2018.
Ricci previousy left EXCITER in 1985 following the release of the band's first three classic albums — "Heavy Metal Maniac" (1983), "Violence & Force" (1984) and "Long Live the Loud" (1985).
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 had been playing sporadic shows for four years before John's latest exit from the group.
This past March, Beehler told Australia's Metal Mal that the current lineup of EXCITER is "the best version" of the band "ever." Regarding how Dekay came to join EXCITER, Beehler said: "[Daniel] lives in Toronto, but he's originally from Ottawa, our hometown. And through friends and family members, and through my daughter, he's been a friend for many years. And he was in a local band called AGGRESSOR, which I've seen many times. [I've] met his dad many times.
"A lot of guitarists sent in stuff on the Internet, because they knew John had left the band and they wanted to try out for the band," he continued. "And God bless them, and there was tons of really good guitarists, but as soon as Dekay called me, I just knew that he was the guy, because I knew his character, I knew how he could play, I knew just about everything about him. And I told Al, and Al said, 'I don't even wanna listen to any more of the list,' and I said, 'We'll just respect any of those guys that sent stuff in.' And he came out for the first rehearsal and did the whole set for the first show, and it was like he'd been playing with us for years. He's such a great player and he's so good on stage. Everybody says he's the 'kid,' but he's super professional at what he does and handles all of our business and stuff. That was a bonus. So we really lucked out. It's like we got a family member instead of going out into the world and getting somebody and bringing him into EXCITER and getting to know them. It's like we've known him for years. So we really lucked out getting Dekay. We're super happy with him."
Photo credit: Laura Collins-Music Photography