Interview: Brian Slagel Head of Metal Blade Records on His New Book.
As I sit here preparing for my debut feature, I take a deep breath and let it sink in the importance of my first interview. There are few metal bands that have risen to above godly proportions; Metallica are one such band. The man I talk to today is the very man who gave Metallica their first musical opportunity.
His label is Metal Blade Records, his name...BRIAN SLAGEL. (Carl) Hi Brian, thank you for taking the time to chat to us today. First off, I must say, you have created some legacy with Metal Blade, how proud are you of what you have achieved for heavy metal music? (Brian) Yeah it is certainly very cool to have been a part of all this. I am most proud of all the great artists we have worked with over the years.
(Carl) The music industry has changed exponentially over the last 35 years, with that in mind how do you manage to keep Metal Blade relevant? (Brian) I think not being afraid of change. We have had so many changes in formats, styles everything. I think we have always embraced what is the "new" thing and tried to be as far ahead as we can on all that.
(Carl) Gonna try get you to jog your memory a bit now Brian, you started off with the now legendary compilation series ‘Metal Massacre’, which one of the compilations do you think was the strongest release from start to finish? (Brian) Well the first one was pretty amazing, but I think 5 was the strongest one. It is a pretty incredible lineup with Metal Church, Fates Warning, Voi Vod, Hellhammer, Omen, Overkill etc...
(Carl) You recently released a book ‘For the sake of heaviness, the history of Metal Blade records’, firstly, what has the reception to the book been like? And why now is 2017 the right time to release the book? (Brian)The reception has been beyond what I though it would be. The fans and everyone have reacted so positively to it. It is very humbling for sure. Last year was our 35th anniversary and we have done so many things to document ever 5 years. It just seemed right to to a book now, especially while I can still remember things!
(Carl) Is the book a genuine tell-all, or are there some stories that will stay hidden away in Metal Blade lore? (Brian) I tried to make it more of a history then a real tell all. Luckily there are few stories that we have that are controversial so that made it easier. Also I felt it was more important to really go over the history of the label.
(Carl) Tell me Brian, are there any bands Metal Blade would have liked to have signed, if so tell us who, and are there any bands that you have let slip through your fingers? (Brian) Guns N Roses are one. I never went to see them when they played LA and thought the were a "glam band" which I was not into. Then I heard Appetitie and realized how wrong I was!! We did end up doing marketing for that album early on so that was cool. Also Pantera was one we might have signed but they wanted a lot of money and we passed on an offer. Oops!!
(Carl) How many bands do you currently have on your roster? Are you always on the lookout for the next big thing? (Brian) We have about 60 worldwide right now. Yes we are always looking for cool new bands for sure!
(Carl) Most people will (quite rightly) point to Metallica and Slayer as examples of Metal Blade giving some big bands the start they needed, but you also had a part in the success story that is Ghost, did you think they would be as successful as they have been so far? (Brian) I knew the first time I heard Ghost there was something really special there. I mean you never know how big a band can be. No one thought Metallica or Slayer would be as huge as they are now. That said I am super happy for Ghost and glad we helped get them on their way.
(Carl) With so many great stories in the book, I really feel like it could have been double the size it is, could we ever see a second book in the future?
(Brian) Possibly, I guess if enough people want it! So far reaction has been great. I intentionally wanted to keep it short as I did not want people to be bored. It is about a record label so that is not the most interesting subject..
(Carl) What are your top 5 albums of all time? Metal or non-metal?
(Brian) 1. Iron Maiden "The Number Of The Beast" 2. Rainbow "Rising" 3. Black Sabbath "Sabotage" 4. AC/DC "Powerage" 5. Thin Lizzy "Johnny The Fox" (Carl) Thanks Brian, great to chat to you and thank you for help shape Metal to what it is.
Interview By Carl King.
For the Sake of Heaviness is published by BMG, you can buy it here.