WATCH NOW! Facebook Twitter Instagram LOGIN

Metal Nerd: An Exclusive Interview With METAL BLADE RECORDS Founder BRIAN SLAGEL

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Friday, September 1, 2017 @ 9:12 AM

“Not much has really changed. I still love the music. I still go to as many shows as I can. So, I’m pretty much the metal nerd I was 35 years ago.”

- advertisement -
It has been a momentous year for Metal Blade Records as 2017 marks its 35th anniversary. Commemorating the occasion is the publication of For The Sake Of Heaviness: The History Of Metal Blade Records by the label’s prominent founder, Brian Slagel.

“It kind of seemed like this might be a good time to do a book and (provide) a focal point for the 35th anniversary,” says Slagel. “I might as well tell some of these stories before I start to forget them.” It was Slagel’s passion that was the accelerant which would inadvertently launch Metal Blade. For The Sake Of Heaviness is an engaging account of the unintentional start of a record label, which in time would include some of the most influential bands in heavy metal in its roster.

“I didn’t put out a record to start a record label, I was just trying to help out the scene,” he insists. “I was just working in the record store, doing a fanzine, I was promoting the local shows—kind of doing anything I could in the area to help promote the scene that was happening. But outside of L.A. nobody knew that this thing existed at all."

“Being hugely influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, there were a couple of compilation albums, one being Metal For Muthas (released in 1980). I thought “Well, that’s a really cool idea. Maybe I could do the same thing here.” With no money to fund his venture, Slagel eventually found a distributor, which then prompted him to go out and ask bands if they had something on tape that he could put on the record. “As I was doing that,” Slagel explains, “my friend Lars Ulrich, whom I had known for a couple years because we were huge fans of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, called me and said ‘If I put together a band, could I be on your album?’” Ulrich’s fateful phone call to Slagel was the impetus that formed METALLICA, whose track landed on the 1982 compilation Metal Massacre.

The initial pressing of the first Metal Massacre record featured BITCH, RATT, MALICE, STEELER, and METALLICA, among others. Metal Massacre II, released the same year, brought groups such as ARMORED SAINT and OVERKILL into the light. SLAYER, hailing from Huntington Park, California, revealed their track “Aggressive Perfector” for the Metal Massacre Volume III vinyl LP. Since then, several Metal Massacre albums have been released, helping to launch the careers of FATES WARNING, TROUBLE, LIZZY BORDEN, METAL CHURCH, GWAR, and a throng of other metal bands, some of whom are still putting out records on the Metal Blade label today.

For the record, who would have ever imagined that METALLICA and SLAYER, who were once about as underground and as heavy as any bands could be, would eventually be performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel Live! network television shows?

Slagel’s love for heavy music began early: “Growing up as a kid I got really into all that 70s KISS, SABBATH, DEEP PURPLE, JUDAS PRIEST, you know. You name it. Then, really, the New Wave of British Wave of Heavy Metal that started happening back in 1979—I got completely obsessed with that whole scene. That’s really what probably prompted me to start a fanzine, working in a record store, all that stuff that kind of led up to eventually doing the label.”

"If you talk to anybody who became fans of FATES WARNING or SLAYER or any of the aforementioned bands, probably 85 percent of their fans saw them first on MTV’s Headbangers Ball. “So, that was a huge vehicle once that really started getting up and getting going. We would give them videos and they would play it to this audiences all over the country—before that it was magazines or whatever. It was kind of a slow growth. Definitely the metal scene took a huge jump when MTV started that, especially when it started getting really popular.”

The impact of the Grunge era in the 90s took its toll: “Well, it’s weird. I talk a lot about that time and certainly the mainstream metal was completely out of the mainstream. Nobody really cared about it. But the underground was still really, really strong. We had CANNIBAL CORPSE, SIX FEET UNDER, MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND, GWAR, a whole bunch of bands that through the 90s sold a lot of records and did extremely well. So, I think the underground was still really thriving. I think another thing, too, I think that’s interesting about that time frame—there’s a lot of really great records that came out then that people even to this day people don’t really realize that came out because metal was so underground and people were kind of put off. There’s a lot of good stuff that still to this day doesn’t get a lot of juice like that because of when it came out. We also did a lot of marketing promotion for a lot of the grunge stuff as well. We worked with ALICE IN CHAINS, MOTHER LOVE BONE, FAITH NO MORE, and SOUNDGARDEN. So, we were able to kind of navigate the waters a little bit there and obviously got through it and survived it. But looking back it wasn’t as bad as everyone thought it was, at least in the underground.”

When asked how the metal scene stacks up now in the digital age, Slagel remains optimistic:

“Certainly, everything is changing now. Up until last year we were probably 75 percent physical across the board worldwide. Vinyl is still really popular, and probably more popular now than it’s been in a long time, which is kind of crazy. I think we’re doing vinyl on pretty much every release we’re doing now, which is interesting after all these years. The streaming stuff is coming in and certainly playing a big role in it but the physical’s not going to go away anytime soon. It’s probably going to be less and less but it’s still going to exist, for sure.”

Has Slagel become jaded about the music he has worked with for so many years? “Not much has really changed. I still love the music. I still go to as many shows as I can. So, I’m pretty much the metal nerd I was 35 years ago.”

Please log in to view RANTS




 Recent Features
Beyond Vision: An Exclusive Interview With LORI S. Of ACID KING
Guilt By Association: An Interview With NICK MILLER and TOMMY VAN ARSDALE Of DUST BITERS
What Lies Beneath: An Interview With VINCENT LANE Of REALATION
By Design: An Interview With REX & ZAK COX Of UNCURED
Awakening: An Exclusive Interview With KRIS GUSTOFSON Of TRAUMA
A House United: An Exclusive Interview With JIMI BELL Of DEMONS DOWN
Their Time: An Interview With TEZZI PERSSON Of INFINITE & DIVINE
Judging A Book By Its Cover: An Exclusive Interview With RON YOUNG Of LITTLE CAESAR
Live Again: An Interview With ISSA ØVERSVEEN
Making American Black Metal Great Again: An Exclusive Interview With PROFANA Of BLOOD STAINED DUSK
Something Wicked: An Interview With GARY HUGHES Of TEN
The Battle Rages On: An Interview With Vocalist RONNIE ROMERO
More Than A Woman: An Exclusive Interview With MO’ROYCE PETERSON Of TRAGEDY
The Dark Horse: An Exclusive Interview With STEVE RILEY Of RILEY’S L.A. GUNS
Diamond In The Rough: An Interview With FRANK NORDENG RØE Of BIG CITY
Wrong Side of Paradise: An Interview With ROBBIE CRANE Of BLACK STAR RIDERS
And Three Shall Be The Count: An Exclusive Interview With RICHIE KOTZEN Of THE WINERY DOGS
It's Alive: An Exclusive Interview With Vocalist ROBIN MCAULEY
Phoenix Rising: An Interview With ALEX STRANDELL Of CROWNE
Fatal Encounter: An Exclusive Interview With FREDRIK WERNER & ANDY JOHANSSON Of AIR RAID
40 Years Of Metal Health: An Exclusive Interview With RUDY SARZO of QUIET RIOT
Burning Brighter: An Interview With JON RICCI Of LANSDOWNE
Coming To America: An Exclusive Interview With GUILHERME Of GAEREA
Do Ya Wanna Taste It: An Interview With ÅGE STEN NELSON (AKA “GLAM”) Of WIG WAM
Emerging From Dark Waters: An Exclusive Interview With MARTIJN WESTERHOLT of DELAIN
Reborn: An Exclusive Interview With MARCO HEUBAUM Of XANDRIA
Kingmakers: An Exclusive Interview With DEJAN ROSIĆ Of SCREAMER
Decreation Day: An Exclusive Interview With DEVIN REICHE Of ANUBIS
Melting Faces, Round Two: An Exclusive Interview With CHARLIE BENANTE (ANTHRAX) And GARY HOLT (EXODUS)


©2023 KNAC.COM. All Rights Reserved.    Link to us    Advertise with us    Privacy policy
 Latest News