Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series. Part I
(Photos courtesy of Jon Kruse)
Inspiration can come from a number of unique sources. The concept behind this interview series was developed over time but recently crystallized in my mind. As the owner of a large library I’ve often pondered about the nature of collecting Heavy Metal music (Cassettes, vinyl, CD’s, memorabilia etc) and how and why people accumulate Metal ‘stuff’. Earlier this year (2017) Martin Popoff wrote a book called METAL COLLECTORS which I read, thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed. It occurred to me that there are lots of people out there with pretty massive Metal collections so I decided I wanted to chat to some of them and interview them for the site.
My concept is to, over time ask people with some pretty impressive, monster collections the same series of questions. I’m basically stealing that idea of METAL COLLECTORS (Sorry Martin!) and expanding into an interview series. Lastly, the name for this series was spawned by a gentleman by the name of Ray Wawrzyniak. He appeared in the recent Rush documentary TIME STAND STILL. Ray is a Rush superfan and in one particularly charming scene in the film, the genial and friendly (but clearly obsessed) Ray shows off one piece of his Rush collection and refers to it with barely hidden glee as ‘Spectacularly Majestic’. It was in fact ‘just’ an old piece of paper, (a Rush ad from a magazine from 1979) but that phrase alone and his enthusiasm I feel embodies the spirit of Metal collecting, because I suspect that many Metal collectors have those same moments. Check out the 1:30 minute mark of the video below.
The first person to kindly consent to be interviewed is Jon Kruse of Nebraska. If you, or know someone you know, has a monster Metal collection (in the 5000+ range) please feel free to get them in touch with me!
Tell us how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
I guess you could say I started collecting back in 1977 when I fell in love with KISS and bought “Alive 2” with my own money at the age of 8…I began by collecting the older KISS albums, then continued to buy the new ones…then as years went on and I got into other bands I just tried to keep up with their new releases…problem was the number of bands I got into kept GROWING!!!
How big is your collection?
I’ve never actually sat down and counted the entire collection so I have to approximate: somewhere in the neighborhood of 14000-15000 CDs total (ALL styles/Genres), 3000-3500 Vinyl (ALL styles/Genres) and about 600-700 Cassettes (ALL styles/Genres)…I also have started to look for rare 8 Track versions of Hard Rock/Metal bands so I probably have around 100 8-Tracks (ALL styles/Genres)…I also am a movie collector, so I ALSO have 4000+ Movies (VHS/Beta/LD/DVD/BluRay)
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
WHOOPS!!!! Answered this question above, BUT, the ONLY digital stuff I do are: 1) If the band releases new material digital only (but usually I contact the band, they do press a FEW physical copies), 2) If a title is so CRAZY OOP that I’m never gonna get it unless I mortgage my house 😬 or 3) Transfer physical products I own to my Ipods to listen to in my vehicles…my CDs DO NOT leave the house!!!
How do you count your collection? If you have say, for example, multiple copies of KISS-Destroyer on the following media; Vinyl, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, and digital format do you count that as five items or just 1 item?
I “count” them separately, although as stated above I’ve not actually COUNTED them yet (that is a project I hope to get to in 2018!!!), but to use your example with Destroyer: I have a US copy of the vinyl (possibly 2?), a Japanese Copy, a copy of Resurrected, a copy of it on CD (Casablanca), a Remaster CD, a copy of Resurrected on CD, a copy on cassette and 2 different versions on 8 Track…so I would count that as 9 items…
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
I try to stick with Full Lengths and EPs with most bands, bands I like I try to get the live stuff and Box Sets, especially if it contains unreleased stuff…compilations and singles are usually impulse buys if I go CD hunting at stores or online and find something cheap…
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
My main collection is Metal and are housed on the shelves I had built around the walls of the basement…they are arranged Alphabetically and Chronologically, but all styles of Metal, Punk and Hard Core are mixed together…there are separate shelves for my Classic Rock/Pop/Country/Other Styles)…Vinyl the same way, my Metal vinyl are in two racks I had built for me, the non-metal housed below…also Alphabetically and Chronologically…
Do you insure your collection?
Yes…for as much as I CAN!!! However the collection is kept in my basement so flooding is NOT covered by ANY insurance as far as replacement of items, so I had a company come in to “waterproof” the basement and it’s guaranteed for 25 years against leakage and they check every year on humidity levels and to ensure the sump pumps work…
How do you store your collection?
I had a contractor build shelves all the way around my basement when we bought our house to house my collection…there was also a small room at the back I use to store all my KISS collectibles…I also have a Texas Chainsaw collection that is displayed in the stairwell going downstairs and on the back wall not shelved houses my Friday The 13th collection..
What is your preferred genre(s)? Do you have a genre break down of your collection? For example 15% Death Metal, 25% Black Metal etc?
Thrash Metal for me is my favorite Genre and so a majority of my collection is Thrash/Speed/Power (40%?), then Death Metal (I prefer the Old School Swedish and European Death Metal but collect all styles) (25%), Black Metal (I don’t prefer the Raw stuff other than Bathory, but that Genre is SO wide open, that I end up getting into a lot of different styles within the genre) (15%), Hard Rock/Heavy Metal (15%) and HardCore/Punk (5%)…none of that is probably completely accurate numbers but you get the idea…
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
Only buy…when I buy CDs or vinyl, it’s nice to know if I have something rare, but it’s NOT so I that I can make money on it, it’s so that I can add a “gem” to my collection!
What is your preferred format?
CD’s were the format that obvious really got me going full force on collecting but honestly since I got a Turntable that I really like, I primarily listen to vinyl now when I’m downstairs…
How do your track your collection? Do you use a spreadsheet or one of the on-line services or even a hand-written list?
I use the Notepad app on my iPhone but I’m in the process of cataloging my collection on Discogs, that way eventually I can also have a “value” of my collection and an actual total number of what I own…
What is your most valuable piece? (not in terms of sentimental value, but in actual terms of resale value on the open market. ie. Goldmine etc. )
There’s quite a few: To narrow it down, I have a copy of KISS “The Originals” all the insides intact and the records NM, the original Meco KISS figures from the 70’s, an original pressing of Merciless “The Awakening” on DSP, original pressing of Morpheus “Son Of Hypnos”, Amboss “Those Who Have Lost The Right…”…oh and an unpopular one but Destruction “Least Successful Human Cannonball”
What is your rarest item in your collection?
I have a Paganizer boxset (from this year actually!!!) only 100 made and between my friend and I we own 4, a Gurd TP vinyl of Never Fail (only 150 made) – autographed by the band and received from the bands guitarist directly, a Prowler display Promo disc box with all 4 original singles in special display packaging – #1 of 50 and was given to me by the bands guitarist for my promotion of the band…there are a lot more but those are a few off the top of my head…
What is the most you have paid for an item?
$200 for Vomiturition “Head Tales” EP…last time I will spend that much on any CD…it’s a shame what people that are out to make a quick buck have done to the collectors market…plus the bands don’t see any of that money which is ALSO a travesty…
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
Necronomicon “Screams” – the FEW times I’ve seen it online it’s sold for over $300-$400
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
KISS stuff!!!! I have quite a few Metal books, but 4 totes full of Metal Zines I’ve amassed thru the years…shirts, what I get at shows but those get worn to show my support of the bands and of Metal in general..
Why do you collect Metal music?
Metal music has always grabbed me because of the aggressiveness of the music but moreso I’d say because of the sense and feeling of community and even family that you feel with others in the Metal community…even breaking it down further, being a KISS fan for so long, I’ve heard all my life “KISS sucks!!!”, and I’ve come to realize that I’ve never really gotten into music for it’s popularity or to BE popular, but rather because I LOVE the music…Metal for the most part has always been a bad taste in society’s mouth and even when it hits the mainstream, it’s only there for a moment and most of society jump on and off of the bandwagon…this isn’t like a High School crush for me or a flavor of the week, I LOVE music, but I LOVE Metal, always have, always will!!!!
In a morbid and very Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
My kids…hopefully they will learn to love music and Metal like I do and will continue the collection, but it’s up to them to decide…☹️
Final thoughts? Feel free to use this space to share any unique or interesting items about you and your collection and/or share ideas and advice for your fellow collectors.
I just would like to say that we all have different bands we like and sometimes there are people that insult others for listening to Metal that “isn’t cool” or “not Metal”, but as a community, we need to come together and not get caught up in all this crap of Band-hate…too many people hate this or that in the world, us Metalheads are better than that!!! I also say get on FB and check out the bands you like or hear about and if you like a band, SHARE the band all over FB!!!! I do a Metal Show on YouTube called “The Metal Inquisition” where I try to feature bands that haven’t garnered the attention I think they deserve but also to give new bands I discover and friend on FB some exposure, so please help spread the word about all the great band you love (and check out my YouTube shows – help me build my views so we can get this music out to more Metalheads!!!)…
Check out the Metal Inquisition show!
Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview, I appreciate and am humbled that you were interested in including me!!!