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Metal or Punk? Not Even Headbangers Know

April 14, 1989|LAURIE OCHOA

To parents, the lines between punk and metal have always been blurred--it always just sounded like noise. Lately, though, even kids are having trouble sorting out the labels. Hardcore fans turn up at speed metal shows, especially if Slayer or Metallica is playing, while bands with punk roots (DRI, Crumbsuckers) have converted lifelong metalheads.

What happened? Basically, metal guitarists discovered the joys of playing fast . . . real fast, and hardcore musicians started exploring metal riffs and liked what they found.

"At first, it was really weird seeing a bunch of metal bands playing faster," Excel's Dan Clements said by phone from the Venice skate shop where he works. Formerly a member of the hardcore band Chaotic Noise, Clements now is in a group that even he has trouble classifying.

Founded by Clements and fellow Chaotic Noise alumnus Adam Siegel, Excel is often associated with Suicidal Tendencies, the best-known group of the Venice skate metal/hardcore scene. Suicidal's Mike Muir is credited as executive producer on Excel's first album, "Split Image," and when he's not in the studio, Clements works in the Suicidal-owned skate shop in Venice.

Listen to Excel, and you'll hear the influence of thrash producer Randy Burns (Megadeth, Nuclear Assault). He produced both "Split Image" and Excel's second album, "The Joke's on You," to be released April 21.

Adam Siegel's guitar riffs are heavier than the Suicidal sound, and, as if to emphasize the differences between the bands, Clements also works for skateboard star Tony Alva, who owns Alva Skates and is considered by many to be the arch-enemy of Suicidal Tendencies. It's all part of Clements' way of defying classification and staying neutral. "One thing I respect is seeing a band like Jane's Addiction--they used to play to punk crowds, but they never took a side."

Excel doesn't take sides either. Individuality and fighting hypocrisy are common themes in Clements' song lyrics. "People sing about politics, people sing about the devil, people sing about nuclear war--they're always thinking they know more than everybody else about something," Clements said. "But when people read my lyrics they can't say they disagree with what I write."

Excel, Candlemass, Steel Prophet and Visual Discrimination appear at 7:45 tonight at the Country Club, 18415 Sherman Way, Reseda. Tickets are $12. For information, call (818) 881-5601.

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