Tomorrow, for the first time in America in over 25 years, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax will take the stage as the Big Four in Indio CA. The metal titans have played European festivals before, but their sole American date (so far, anyway) is seeing people fly in from around the world to witness a part of history.

For our last day of pre-coverage, in addition to some responses from musicians, we also caught up with Metal Blade president Brian Slagel. In 1982, Slagel’s first Metal Massacre compilation featured a then-unknown Metallica. He would form Metal Blade the following year, and release Slayer’s Show No Mercy. Having had such a close connection to those bands, Metal Insider asked him his thoughts on Saturday’s Big 4 show.

How does it feel to have been there at the very beginning of some of these bands’ careers, to be on your way to see them play in front of thousands of people?

It’s crazy. I mean, if anyone had said back then that we’d be going to see these bands play in front of 70,000 people in 1981 or 1982, none of us would have believed it. It’s just amazing how far the whole metal scene has come. It’s just a testament to those four bands.

Did you get to go to any of the shows last year?

I did not go to them last year, and I was ridiculed by members of Slayer and Metallica and Anthrax for not going. So this will actually be my first time.

Did you have any idea all those years ago when you were putting out the first Slayer album or putting Metallica on a compilation that you were dealing with something special that might be bigger than everything else you were doing?

Absolutely not. I dont’ think any of us back then had ever thought it would come to this. We were just music fans, me and the bands were all fans because we loved the music. It was such a small community back then. We were happy to sell 5 or 10,000 records, and never in any of our wildest dreams would any of us predicted that it would be this big. There’s plenty of times where I’ve hung out with both Metallica and Slayer and we’ve looked at each other and just said ‘how did we get here?”

What are your thoughts on whether this is going to turn into an actual tour?

My personal opinion is that I don’t know that it needs to be a whole tour. I like it as an event, because it makes it more special. If it was a tour, it would be cool, but I don’t know that it would make sense. That being said, I can guarantee you there will be more shows, and more shows within the whole U.S.

I think it’d be great if it was something like the first leg of the last Maiden tour, or Ozzfest, where they play a handful of dates that hits most regions of the country.

It’s getting there. They did the run last Summer in Europe, they’re doing some more European dates. I think as long as everyone’s having fun and enjoying it, I couldn’t see why you wouldn’t have a few more here and flesh it out a little further.

We also asked musicians which of the four bands playing the festival meant the most to them. Responses from GWAR’s Dave Brockie, Unearth’s Trevor Phipps and more after the jump. You can read part 1 here and 2 here.

Trevor Phipps (Unearth): If I had to pick one, the Joey Belladonna era of Anthrax was the band that I gravitated to most out of the Big Four and they essentially became my first favorite band. The thrash and sometimes crossover sound spoke to me as a kid and I liked the fact that they also seemed to be having a lot of fun doing their own thing. “Among the Living” is on top of my list as the best thrash album of all time and the impact of that album can still be heard in heavy music today. The instant classics “Caught in a Mosh”, “I am the Law” and “Indians” helped separate these guys from the pack of dozens of thrash bands and cast them onto a different level with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

Of course I dug all of the Big Four and each of them had a place in my top 10 bands growing up. The first concert I bought tickets to was the Clash of the Titans which had three of the big four (minus Metallica). All of those bands had a huge impact on me as young metalhead and the albums I grew up listening to will forever be in rotation for me. I would even argue that Testament deserves to be
thrown into the mix and we could all just call it the “Big Five.”

Charles Elliot (Abysmal Dawn): Although I think maybe Marty Friedman-era Megadeth influenced me a lot as a lead player, I have to say Metallica was what really got me into metal. The way they arranged songs really had a lasting affect on me. Everything they wrote in the early days was written to be played live and just run over you like a steamroller. I use to religiously rent the “Cliff ‘Em All” VHS from the video store when I was a kid and watch it with my friends. Someone had it on at a party a couple of years ago too and it just reminded me how much I love that band.

For years they were the very definition of metal to me, even though I guess you’d call them thrash. I remember someone playing Iron Maiden for me when I was younger and just thinking they were more of a hard rock band in comparison. Not that they’re a bad band, but Metallica was what got to me first back then and I wouldn’t accept anything as metal that wasn’t as heavy as they were. Still can’t beat those first five Metallica records in my opinion.

Dave Brockie/Oderus Urungus (GWAR): If I was answering as Oderus I would have to say none of them mean a fucking thing to me, but since I love all of these bands, I am going to answer as me for once. Of the “Big Four” I have to go with Slayer…I was a huge Slayer fan when I was coming up and used to delight in torturing people with those first couple horrible sounding yet-so-good records…then when Reign in Blood came out it really changed my life, and “Altar of Sacrifice” was my favorite song for years. I can’t tell you how many car wrecks I almost had head-banging to that song while driving. Plus they really have kept it going in a very respectful way…they never sold out or went soft…and for this and many more reasons….SLAYER RULES, even though I have met Kerry like five times and he is always a jerk to me.

Will Lindsay (Indian): I would be torn to pick which one of the Big Four means the most to me, as all four bands were so important to me when I was younger. They were all incredibly influential and really impacted music. No one that started playing guitar in the last 20 years or so can deny the influence of Hetfield’s rhythm guitar playing or Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman’s guitar work together. Charlie Benante and Dave Lombardo’s drumming in the ’80s broke all kinds of new ground and is more or less unequaled. Megadeth made Vic Rattlehead an instantly recognizable icon. All four band’s early output is as important and relevant now as when it was released.

With that all being said, I think the Big Four tour is a horrible idea. None of the bands, with the exception of Slayer, have released an album worth hearing in 20 years or more. And honestly, Slayer’s last good album was 17 years ago. The bands all hit their peaks in the ’80s. If this had happened when I was fifteen, I would have thought it was the greatest thing that could possibly happen, with the possible exception of the Campaign For Musical Destruction tour. Today, all I can think when I hear about it is, ‘Why?’ Slayer is the only one of the Big Four I’ve seen in recent years and the last few times I saw them have not encouraged me to see them again. When I envision this show, I picture a bunch of has-beens making caricatures of themselves and their previous accomplishments.

Sean Patton (Indian): slayer…do I need to explain? Metallica is a bunch of capitalist queers. Megadeth is fronted by a whiny junkie pussy and, well, Anthrax rules. But come on, its Slayer. Slayer and Anthrax have been the only 2 of these 4 to always be releasing albums and touring through thick and thin no matter what lineup changes or anything.

Erik Barath (Indestructible Noise Command): Metallica. Kill ‘Em All was my introduction into speed mixed with metal and was my own most influential album as a musician and songwriter.

Jason Orton (Conflicted): Definitely Anthrax….  Why? Because they have a sense of humour! They’ve stood the test of time. Their music still sounds just as energized today as it ever did. Their singer (Joey Belladonna) has an AWESOME voice. Hands down: Anthrax!!!

Mark Owen (Conflicted): Megadeth – As a guitar player, I find every album is full of moments that both inspire and amaze.  From the intricate and demanding rhythm work to solos that fly and everything in between, the Megadeth catalogue is full of must haves for anyone serious about developing their metal chops!

Alex Howard (Conditions): Out of the Big 4 I would say that Metallica means the most to me. I didn’t grow up a “metal” kid, I was really into alt rock and punk rock growing up, so Metallica was the one who kind of bridged that gap. Listening to Metallica lead me to tons of other metal acts that have influenced me.

Marc Bourgon (Fuck The Facts): For me, the band that means the most on this weekend’s Big Four show would definitely be Metallica. Ride the Lightning was the first cassette I ever bought (the second was Alapalooza by Weird Al). Right after I bought RTL I had to go to my Aunts house for some lame family get-together shit. I ended up just sitting in the corner by myself listening to it over and over again and an ear blistering volume. I eventually ended up leaving the safety of the corner and hanging out with my family but not after giving myself a brutal headache. Metallica has become a shameful shadow of what it once was, but I can never deny the fact that they were the band that got me into heavier music. 

Fuck The Facts guitarist Johnny Ibay’s pre-cap of the Big 4 show:

– Guitar nerds will be there for Megadeth solos.

– Meatheads will be there to beat the shit out of each other for Slayer.

– Kids with flipped brim hats with writing on them will be there for Anthrax wondering when Municipal Waste will be playing.

– Everybody will be stoked to hear anything from the first four Metallica albums.