Beehler. The Man. The Band. The Legend grows….anyone who is a professed ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ who grew up in the 80s will know who Dan Beehler is. Moreover, they’ll remember the sound that defined the band he sang AND drummed for – Exciter. Almost 3 decades on and he’s now back again with that ‘pounding metal’ sound from hell!!
Hi Dan, lemme say first off that as a fan who bought “Heavy Metal Maniac” all those years ago what an honor it is to finally interview you! I actually wanted to speak to you at Metallica’s Marquee show in ’83 but you were such a big dude I felt a little intimidated being just a 13 year old kid LOL – lemme say how much I respect you for being a drummer / vocalist. As I remember, it was only you and Zoetrope’s Barry Stern (RIP) who pounded and screamed in unison!!
Dan: Thanks for the compliments, wow! I remember everything from my past. I remember the gig at the Marquee club with Metallica. You should have said hi, HaHa!!!Those were crazy days in London with Motorhead. Remember Scott Ian was Metallica’s guitar roadie at the Marquee club. I have a million stories. I still listen to Zoetrope, I love that band. They opened for us in Chicago in 84, wicked band.
Fast forward 30 years on and we actually met briefly backstage at Headbangers Open Air in 2008 – I’m a much bigger bloke now LOL but the main reason was that I was TOTALLY blown away by you and Alan – to me you were the REAL voice of Exciter as I said in my review back then (http://www.battlehelmarchives.com/livereviews/hoa08.htm). I haveta also confess that back in the 90s I booked a performance with John Ricci’s Exciter but throughout the show I kept imagining you and Alan there – i think my sulk matched John’s by the end LOL.
Dan: Again Thanks for the compliments! That was funny shit about the sulk. That’s a real compliment to the old days. It’s not the same. It’s too bad we will never get back together, but people are getting their fill of old Exciter with Beehler live!
So why has it taken so long for you & Alan so long to get back into things – I figured John owned the rights to the name but we all waited and waited to see if you guys would bounce back like Megadeth or something but nothing happened?
Dan: I was in a different part of my life through the Beehler years. I couldn’t commit 100% to music. Now it’s time, it’s been too long. I never wanted the rights to the name, it has went through so many changes. I would rather have the freedom to do something a little different.
When Exciter first arrived you were at the forefront of the early ‘thrash’ scene – in fact I remember buying a ticket to go see you at the (cancelled) Hammy Odeon gig alongside The Rods and Metallica – but something didn’t seem to click for the band? The Rods went on tour, Metallica went on to produce “Ride The Lightning” and as I remember you guys took some flak over “Violence & Force” and for some bizarre reason ended up playing the Royal Standard in Walthamstow?! My friend told me about the gig but I refused to believe it, thinking it was impossible for Exciter to end up there, so how did that happen – or rather why didn’t it happen?
Dan: Wow imagine if that Hell on Earth tour would have happened. We ended up at the Royal Standard LOL. Metallica, Johnny Z and Queensriche were there. We got wasted with Cliff Burton too! I have a cassette of that show. The record company stuck us there, but I’m glad now that it happened. There was a lot of history in that bar. We were young and stupid and fighting with the record labels and sent back to Canada (Siberia) while everyone else got the tours. It was always an uphill battle, but I blame ourselves for being stupid and making bad decisions. Turmoil in the band didn’t help.
By the way, what ever happened to ‘East Side Slasher’ – who was this dude – some Canadian biker?
Dan: The East Side Slasher was a fictitious character made up by my brother and we figured East NY was rough as was East London so we said we would make him the “East Side Slasher”. That’s actually me on the cover with fake tattoos!
Oh yeah, and those mean guitars that Alan and John used to play – Shark custom – are they still around? They were mean ass man, fuckin looked like Alan would slice ma head off during ‘Iron Dawgs’ LOL
Dan: Those guitars were made in Ottawa. They were pretty cool. Sadly they’re all gone, sold many years ago. I just heard of someone in the city that has the actual Marshall Cab with the slash on the cover.
Just going back to you probably still being the only drummer / singer still there ‘pounding metal’ – do you do any kinda special fitness training to do this cos I wonder if it must put a lotta pressure on your lungs to both sing and drum the way you do?
Dan: Drumming and singing is the only exercise I do. It’s like going to the gym five days crammed into one. I still love it but it’s fucking hard. I’ll keep it up as long as I can pull it off. I feel better now than in my twenties.
Ok, so who’s in the new Exciter LOL – sorry Beehler The Band: what immediately grabbed me about your new album “Messages To The Dead” is just how old school Exciter it sounds – right down to John’s trademark raw guitar sound. Hey, I hope the title isn’t directly at old headbangers like me is it LOL?!
Dan: The new band is made up of family. Scott Walsh is my brother in law. I grew up with Sean Brophy’s family and our new Bass player Brian Stephenson “Dirty Little Bastard” has been family long before he joined. They all buy into old school blow your head off metal! I don’t want to play any other way. We all have tremendous respect for each other and for the first time I can have fun with my band! I believe this comes out in the music.
Are you and Alan on speaking terms with John these days? How does he feel about Beehler? Did the opportunity arise for you guys to get back together again once more as Exciter?
Dan: Oh ya Al’s a great friend. It’s sad not playing with him. I’m not on speaking terms with John. It’s too bad. I wish him and his band all the best but this isn’t Exciter – it’s Beehler!
Y’know, when I saw Sasha Gervasi’s recent(ish) movie on Anvil I kept wondering if Lars Ulrich was right about the ‘Canadian thing’ similarly befalling Exciter so how do you feel things will work out with Beehler? I really hope it does for you man, cos you are a living legend. I’d offer to bring you to the UK but sadly all I can afford these days is another stint at the Royal Standard (it’s closing down but i think Chariot and Tokyo Blade played there recently) LOL
Dan: Lars was right about the Canadian thing man. I lived it. I’m still living it. It’s different now because of the internet. Back then we were sentenced when we came home. Also everyone in Toronto back then hated bands from Ottawa. You had to move there. We were doubly fucked. Hope we get to the UK soon. Hopefully not in Walthamstow!!! Anything else you need you let me know. Thanks for the memories! Dan