In an exclusive interview with Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, our friends at Loudwire took a moment to chat about Metallica. If you didn't know, Slagel gave Metallica their first official release by including 'Hit the Lights' on his label's first compilation, 'Metal Massacre.' Were it not for Metal Blade Records and Slagel, Metallica may have never gotten the exposure they needed to take the next step and record 'Kill 'Em All.'

"It's still crazy when you think about it," Slagel tells Loudwire. "I was friends with Lars [Ulrich] before there even was a band; I knew those guys before they existed, so it's still pretty surreal." Slagel is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his record label this year, so it's hard to not reflect on his career without reminiscing about Metallica. "When they get to these milestones like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and some of these other milestones, we end up getting together and just sitting around and going, 'How did all of this happen,'" he says. "It’s amazing but it’s also a huge testament as to how dedicated, smart, and talented those guys are."

Slagel goes on, "They get bashed here and there, obviously from other different things, but those guys are the same people today as they were 30 years ago — same guys. They haven’t been affected by everything else. I think they did an incredible job of kind of pulling up that flag for a long period of time ... I’m just insanely grateful to play a small part in it and those guys have been nothing but great to me."

Read the full interview with Slagel at

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