Brian Slagel: “One Saxon T-Shirt helped Metallica While Established”
Brian Slagel, who is Metal Blade Records founder, revealed that 1 Saxon T-shirt helped to Metallica band. Recently Brian Slagel attended to interview on The Metal Voice podcast. He told how a Saxon T-shirt helped him meet with Lars Ulrich.
In 1981, Brian Slagel was an avid heavy metal fan. He had always dreamed of forming a label. He achieved success beyond his expectations. Putting out a compilation with unknown bands is the most important part of Metal Blade‘s becoming a well-known heavy metal label. A year after, the first ”Metal Massacre” compilation was released. It started a tradition -which lasts decades- of this label, ”Metal Massacre”.
Another reason why the 1982 edition of ”Metal Massacre” is valuable in the history of metal music is, buying the first studio recording of Metallica, ”Hit the Lights”. In the podcast, Slagel mentioned how he met Lars Ulrich, at a Michael Schenker concert, in 1981.
“The Michael Schenker Group played a venue called the Country Club in Reseda, California, which was a suburb of Los Angeles, in December of 1980. We found out later that everybody – from Metallica, Armored Saint – all the bands later featured on “Metal Massacre” were on that show, even though nobody knew each other.
The connection between ”Metal Massacre” and Metallica is not just that. There was news about them putting a new compilation album which made Lars Ulrich‘s jamming sessions with James Hetfield double down and request a spot on the compilation album of Slagel‘s.
“So, I was there with my good friend, John Kornarens who was the other guy helping me with the fanzine, and also with the compilation. So, after the show, he’s in the parking lot, he sees a kid wearing a Saxon European t-shirt. Now, in 1980, nobody in LA knew who Saxon was, let alone would be wearing a European t-shirt. So John runs up to the kid and says, ‘Where’d you get that shirt?’ He goes, ‘Oh, my God, you’re who Saxon is?’ And goes, ‘Yeah’, and he said, ‘I just moved here from Denmark, like two weeks ago. I didn’t think anybody knew who Saxon was.’ ‘No, no, I’m totally into it. My friend Brian and I are really into it, you got to meet him.”
“A couple of days later – I don’t remember if it was his house or my house – but Lars and I and John all got together and started going crazy over the New Wave of British Heavy Metal because Lars, you know, moving here from Denmark didn’t think he’d know anybody, wouldn’t find any friends that knew what was going on with the scene because he was a big music fan. So we all became fast friends because of that.”
“Fast forward to a year and a half later… I’m putting together this compilation album, and Lars called me up and said, ‘Hey, if I put together a band, can it be on the record?’ And I went like, ‘Sure, we need bands on the record? Why not?’ So, I guess the story was [that] he and James had jammed a couple of times, but nothing was happening. So when Lars came back and said, ‘Hey, we can be on a record…’ And in 1981 and ’82, being on a record was a pretty big thing, so they got together. And the three of them – well, the two of them recorded everything. And then Lloyd Grant played the lead and, that was the original ‘Hit the Lights‘.”
Brain Slagel explains the hardships that the band had and how the story of Metallica needed more strokes to start their career genuinely.
“And so they brought me – literally typical Lars – brought me a cassette tape the very last minute, they almost didn’t make it on the record, because he was probably about an hour away from it not getting there in time, because we had everything all set up to go.”
“So they brought a cassette, and then we didn’t – it was $50 to bump the cassette to a quarter-inch tape. And none of us had the money. Luckily, John Kornarens had 50 bucks, so he paid the 50 bucks, and Metallica ended up on the record.”
This year, ”Metal Massacre” and Metal Blade Records will celebrate their 40th anniversary. This year is more special than the other years because Metal Blade will release a new run of ”Metal Massacre I”.
You can listen to Metallica’s “Hit the Lights” song below!