Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series. Part 2
(Photos courtesy of Michael Pythoud)
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.
If you, or know someone you know, has a monster Metal collection (in the 1000+ range) please feel free to get them in touch with me!
Tell us how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
I started listening to metal in the early 80’s with the album Dynasty by Kiss and Back In Black byAC/DC (my first purchase was the album Powerslave of Iron Maiden in 1984.), but the desire to make a collection started late 80’s when I realized the number of bands I enjoyed and all the different styles that flowed from it.
How big is your collection?
My collection currently has 3350 cd’s, 215 dvd’s, 297 box’s and 220 vinyl’s. I also have a few vhs, cassettes and others. For a few years, I have privileged the boxes limited to cd’s and others, because I find them more attractive for eyes..
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
As for the vinyls, it is quite simple: from an aesthetic point of view and sound, it goes far beyond the cassette, but for the practical side, (the period of the walkmans), the cassette in all its place on the practical side of the thing. The fight between cd’s and Mp3 is a bit the same. And for Mp3 there is also the fact that not everything is on physical support.
How do you count your collection? For example. 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?
Although not having many albums on various formats, (except if I find a previously purchased album in a box I just acquired). I have for example the album Best Of The Beast by Iron Maiden on the following formats: CD, Vinyl Box and MiniDisc, in this case I count three pieces. I also have the album of King Diamond The Graveyard in cd (Jewel case) and in cd digipack, so I count equally two pieces. But in general, I do not buy the same album in different formats.
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
For example, I started with the group Iron Maiden (again? Haha), to buy almost everything, which came out within the limits of my finances. But as I said before, being a fan of Metal in general and a lot of bands, I quickly stopped because I no longer had the financial means for other bands. Of course, if I were a millionaire, it would be a whole different story.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
I organize my collection alphabetically, because as Chuck Schuldiner said, genres are made only for people to get to buy or not what is stamped in their style of predilection. And if I were to classify the bands by genre I would be well bet with some of them. For example: how to classify a group like Paradise Lost? I have to put the albums Lost Paradise, Gothic, Shades Of Gods, etc … in the Death Metal category and after putting albums like Host and Symbol Of Life in the New Wave? It does not make sense to me. Finally, as I like almost all Metal styles I do not differentiate between Wings Of Tomorrow of Europe and Tomb Of The Mutilated of Cannibal Corpse because they are two Metal albums for me, (of course in a very different style , but of Metal).
Do you insure your collection?
Yes, but I assured it a lot more when I lived in an apartment more likely to burn, than now that I live in an armed concrete building.
How do you store your collection?
At home, in the living room, I am lucky to have a comprehensive family and I do not think I can store my collection other than at home, I would never be quiet and would not sleep on my two ears.
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?
I admit that I have never counted my albums or bands by genre, so I do not know the different percentages of my collection, but I think at nose view I have at least 40% of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Glam etc, 50% Thrash, Death and Black Metal and 10% of bands like Pain, Rammstein, Deathstars etc … My favorite style is a very difficult question. I think it depends on the time of the year. When I started listening to Metal, I was listening to a lot of Heavy Metal. But at that time the most brutal bands like Deicide were not many. For example, the first time I heard a Death Metal album, it was Unleashed’s Where No Life Dwell album, and I did not like this first-listen style. I think that if I had been listening to a Rammstein album when I was fifteen, I would have found that completely ridiculous. Finally, I think that the appreciation of the genres comes also from the time when they are discovered and listened to.
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
Never. finally … not today. When I was younger, I sold or traded some items but now I bite my fingers for that. The worst memories related to this and when I exchanged my disc picture of Celtic Frost, Morbid Tales when I was fifteen. Since I have not found it, (at least at a correct price).
What is your preferred format?
Definitely the CD because it is the format that degrades the least over the years. I love the vinyls and CD digipack for their beauty, but they degrade much faster than a cd. After I heard this story with the rotten Cd’s of the 80’s, but personally I have never encountered this problem.
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 started an Excel list a decade ago. Later, I also started a website that is still today, updated regularly, (metalcollection.ch). I also have a detailed list on www.discogs.com.
(Ed. Check this site out. It is amazing!)
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. )
For the moment the piece that would be sold the most expensive will be the box of Iron Maiden Eddie’s Head, (almost 700 chf francs). But I had already paid 250 chf when it came out.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
Probably the CD of MERCILESS The Awakening released at Deathlike Silence Productions in 1990, but I have others like the album of Mandator Perfect Progeny or the first album of the Swiss band Apocalypse released at Out Of Tunes.
What is the most you have paid for an item?
It was for the Motorhead box, The Complete Early Years Box that cost me more than 350 chf, but if I had known at the time that even Lemmy was against the release of this box, I do not know if I would have paid so much for this.
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
Yes I have a few bottles of wine / beers, books, flags, action figures, bubble heads, tour book, pins, patch and many more. For the t-shirts …. I do not count them in my collection except for a piece signed by Nicko McBrain (a t-shirt of the bowl of gold of France in 1991). To finish, yes I buy some of these articles when I can afford it but they will always go after the albums and other boxes.
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
In the vinyls there is the French version of Virgin Killer of Scorpions and the famous Soundhouse Tape of Iron Maiden. In CD’s, the first albums of 220 Volt and in boxes the First Ten Years of Iron Maiden. so I found them all but at crazy prices so I’m still looking.
Why do you collect Metal music?
Because is this kind that has always accompanied me in life since I was young and that I have always been a fan of music in its own right. I remember the first time I saw a Iron Maiden patch on a jacket, I immediately fell in love with imagery and it was then, without knowing the music I looked for to know this kind that has not let me go since all this time. As the Powerwolf say, Metal is my religion.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
I do not like thinking too much about it, I think if you think about it too much, you do not do anything. I hope that my children will benefit from it to keep the collection as long as possible. But my children are still young and they do not necessarily have the same taste as me for music yet. but I am confident for the rest.
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.
Music is one of the most important things in the world for me, be it in any kind of music. I’ve been a fan of Metal for over thirty years, but I have also listened to other bands / styles that I still listen to today, such as old rock n roll, some punk bands and some new wave stuff or goth. Listening to one style or another does not make it any more idiotic or intelligent than another, but the metalheads have this faithfulness that is not found in any other style of music and if there is indeed a kind of music that can save the cd and other physical format, it’s ours. Also because if there are many music fans who do not just listen to the music as they eat and shit after, it is these same metalheads who buy what they like. Long live the Metal.