Brian Slagel is the founder/owner of Metal Blade Records. This year marks the labels 30th anniversary and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Brian about the labels history and what it has planned to celebrate this monumental occasion.
Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what initially led you to putting together the first Metal Massacre compilation?
Brian Slagel: I was in Los Angeles and saw so many really great metal bands playing around. At that
time there was no way for them to get heard. I was a huge fan of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in England and its DIY attitude and from there I got the idea to do a compilation of local LA heavy metal bands. I was also working at a record store and I asked the import distributors I bought from if they would buy a compilation if I put one out. They said yes and the album became a reality.
AL: Did the success of that release plant the seed for you in starting Metal Blade Records or was starting/having your own label always something you wanted?
BS: I never intended to start a label. I was working at a record store and also doing a fanzine. After the album was released, I was offered a pressing and distribution deal from one of the importers. That is when it started to become a label.
AL: You gave Metallica their first real exposure with the Metal Massacre release. Was there a specific reason the band did not sign to Metal Blade?
BS: Yes I had no money as did they. So with no money there was no way to record an album. They came to me first, but no money meant it never happened.
AL: What do you feel has been the labels biggest accomplishment in its 30 years of existence?
BS: Probably just being around for 30 years and still going strong. It is a difficult business, but we have been lucky to still be around and doing what we love.
AL: With the 30 year anniversary of the label is their going to be any special edition releases or re-releases from the label?
BS: Yes we are doing special versions, vinyl, picture discs all year long. Also we are doing special sales around the world as well tied into the 30th.
AL: When signing bands to your label are there any specific qualities or characteristics you look for?
BS: There is nothing specific. We always look for bands that sound a bit different and also are willing to work with us. Getting signed these days is the easy part, and then the work really begins. It’s always helpful if the band has something happening before they ever sign with us.