Middle America in general, and Northeast Ohio in particular, have long been hotbeds for guitar driven music. In the early 80s, as a college DJ and a young employee of a major label, Bill Peters became enamored with the sounds emanating from the NWOBHM movement, yet saw how giant multi-national record companies virtually ignored heavy metal. Through tape traders and his weekly FM outlet, more and more demos landed in the mailbox of his Metal On Metal radio program (still going strong after 26 years). Fully aware of the futility in talking about those fledgling efforts with his coworkers, Peters sought to take some of Cleveland’s finest (and the occasional outsider) to the next level.

This wasn’t unique, as similar minded individuals on both coasts began upstart labels like Metal Blade, Megaforce, Combat and countless others, most of whom no longer exist. With a keen ear and hands on approach, Auburn quickly became a Midwest stronghold, reaching beyond the banks of the Cuyahoga to tap into live venues in Chicago, Detroit and upstate New York, while taking neither direction, nor inspiration from the so-called media centers on each coast. Peters engineered major deals for some of his bands with I.R.S./MCA, Island, SPV and Roadrunner but his love has always been working in the underground, developing new bands and keeping the label independent. To ensure the longstanding family relationship with his bands remained intact (as they do, to this day, something rare in the industry), he stood by their sides throughout the entire process of jumping to a major label. For Peters, and therefore Auburn, the goal has always been to give bands the proper recognition/support, quality production, packaging and promotion they deserved. In short, it’s about the music, not self-aggrandizing.

It must have worked, as a quarter of a century later, the global metal community remains fervent for classic Auburn releases from Breaker, Shok Paris, Destructor, Black Death and Purgatory, as well as consumed by Peters’ latest discoveries. So much so that representatives of the ever-expanding Auburn roster, new and vintage alike, are frequent participants at prestigious European festivals, including the kingpin, Wacken Open Air, Bang Your Head, Headbanger’s Open Air and Keep It True. Peters always travels overseas with his bands, still right by their sides, as they deliver their original musical creations in front of thousands on the world’s biggest stages.

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