30 Years of Brian Slagel and Metal Blade Part II
By: Mike Sloan
Blistering.com: Has there ever been a band that you signed to Metal Blade, thinking it was going to a major success, only to have it wind up being a disaster and a regrettable decision?
Slagel: Yeah, thatís happened a few times over the years. Not necessarily that you think itíll wind up being a massive seller, but you sign bands and you hope they will do well [but they donít]. Currently we have this band, 3, that I absolutely love and the people seem to absolutely love, but we havenít had the success sales-wise that we hoped. Itís gotten good rotation and thatís when thereís a band that is so good and everybody loves them but it just hasnít come around yet. Itís definitely been frustrating.
Blistering.com: Whatís more annoying and difficult to deal with: prima donna bands who expect the world and are very demanding or their overly pushy and demanding agents/managers?
Slagel: Both! Thatís a tough one but both are very difficult to deal with. We try to steer away from those sorts of things and people. I think itís much, much less now than the way it used to be, which is good and thatís another reason why metal is in such a good state right now. Both are bad but I think the prima donna band would be the worst of the two because they think theyíre owed something and everything should be just handed to them or donít want to work for anything. Thatís very difficult. Sometimes with agents and managers, thatís their job to get the best things for their clients, but luckily we have a very good relationship with all the managers and agents of the bands on our roster.
Blistering.com: Whatís more difficult: promoting a bandís album and turning into a success sales-wise or landing one of your newer bands on a massive tour with a band not affiliated with Metal Blade?
Slagel: Well, the second part of that question isnít really that hard, necessarily. Sometimes somebody will just like a band and want take them out on tour. That actually happens much more than the first part of your question.
Blistering.com: What about when a media member reviews one of Metal Bladeís bandís albums and it get crushed? If you really believe in an album from your label and the critics just kill it and give it a horrible review, does it anger you and do you ever hold grudges against the reviewer or their media outlet?
Slagel: Nah, you canít do that. In the early days, I probably wouldíve gotten very upset but I never held a grudge or anything like that because everybody has different tastes. It definitely did hurt me a lot and bother me in the early days. When you put all of your blood, sweat and tears into something and then somebody says something not good about it, it kind of crushes you. But as time went on, I learned that people have different opinions than me and if they donít like it, itís not for me to say that theyíre wrong. Everybody has different tastes and I donít hold any grudges. Itís been so long now that it basically is what it is.
Blistering.com: Out of the thousands of albums Metal Blade has released over the years, which is your favorite and which are you the most proud of?
Slagel: Thereís certainly isnít one particular favorite because weíve had so many over the years, I can probably list you hundreds of ďfavorites.Ē However, the one album that I can say I was really proud to release was Symbol of Salvation by Armored Saint. They were really good friends of the label, we all grew up together and they were one of the first bands we signed. Their guitar player, David Prichard, was also a very good friend of mine and he had just passed away from leukemia. The band was just off of Chrysalis, Dave had passed away and they were going to break up. But they had made all these incredible demos and songs with Dave and I was like, ďyou just canít let these songs die with Dave; you canít not release them.Ē We were able to get those songs recorded and then having that album recorded with a great producer [Dave Jerden] and getting those great songs out, Iím really happy with how the record came out and thatís probably the thing Iím the most proud of. We were able to get Daveís stuff out there, it was a difficult time for everybody, and we were able to make a great record and get it out there.
Blistering.com: What advice do you have for young people trying to get into the record label business? Some people think itís easy to just start up a record label, but obviously itís not.
Slagel: First and foremost, you have to really love the music. If you really love the music, and youíre heart is in the right place to really go out and promote metal bands Ė or any genre of music for that matter Ė absolutely just go out and do it. I think thereís a lot of room for young labels, but itís difficult. You have to know business, but you also have to be completely in love with the music. If you like those two things, I highly encourage anyone to go out and do it.
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