I have to start by saying congratulations! Metal Blade Records is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year…in today’s climate such longevity can only be respected and admired, how does it feel to reach this milestone?
"Thanks! I think by remaining true to the music and being fans first all the hard work over the years has paid off!"
To mark the occasion, you’ve penned a book entitled “For The Sake Of Heaviness: The History Of Metal Blade Records” which is scheduled for release on August 29th…it details the story behind one of the most influential and important labels in heavy metal, something you created…where did the idea to write the book come from?
"We have been talking about this for a while…people have offered me book deals before but, this seemed like a good time. Plus as we were deciding what to do for our 35th anniversary a book was a great choice…"
The book tells the story of how you built Metal Blade from the ground up…starting writing for a fanzine, writing your own reviews and features on your favourite bands at the time, you were very much just a fan with a passion for heavy metal…it must have had its challenges and obstacles back in the days before the internet?
"Of course, I think any business does. But we were able to figure out how to manage all of the changes and survive for all these years."
Things begun picking up when you started piecing together the first “Metal Massacre” compilation album, it’s here the notion of Metal Blade as a label was born and again, it was all done simply out of passion…you simply wanted to champion the Los Angeles underground scene at the time; did you ever imagine it would become the label we know today?
"Never in a million years! If you would have told any of us metal heads back then this would all get so big that we would still be talking about it in 35 years’ time?...We would say that is crazy!"
Your name is now synonymous with heavy metal to the point where, many would say that without Brian Slagel, the world of metal would be an entirely different place…you’re owed a lot of credit for enabling artists such as METALLICA and SLAYER (two of the most iconic bands in metal history) to even get their foot in the door…you must have an immense sense of pride in that...?
"Sure, I’m just happy to have played whatever role I played to get those two amazing bands started. It’s simply amazing seeing the careers they both have had. They still remain good friends to this day and that I might be more proud of…"
Speaking of Metallica, it speaks volumes when Lars Ulrich personally wrote your book’s foreword…when arguably the biggest band in the world thank you for essentially what was their very formation, it goes to show just how important you have been in the ever evolving story that is heavy metal…do you ever look back and just think to yourself, “Wow”?
"Not as much as I should, to be honest…but certainly moments like this are very humbling!"
As nostalgic as the book is, Metal Blade is as much about new and exciting bands as it is known for its heritage, you’ve always approached bands as a fan first and foremost…are there any new artists on your radar right now that you are looking to or hoping to work alongside? What do you look for in a band when it comes to the Metal Blade roster?
"There really is no formula to it...it’s simply just whatever I hear…if I like it I want to work with it. Certainly it helps if the band has something going on; whether a big following in their home town or on the internet…the bottom line is if we like it we will work with them."
With the popularity of blogging, you see so many people from around the world having the opportunity to share their passions with the world, very much like you did back in the day…what advice would you give to somebody who may be looking to make that next step and get anywhere in an ever changing music industry?
"I believe that you should do it for the love of the music first and foremost…if you’re doing it for that, you have a path to succeed…look at Metal Blade!"
Mr Slagel, thank you very much for time and I wish you all the best with the new book.
"For The Sake Of Heaviness: The History Of Metal Blade Records" is out August 29th. Click on the image below to be sent directly to the Metal Blade Records webstore to pre-order your copy today.