Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series. Part 5
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 was in the mid 1980’s when I started listening to whatever my older brother, friends and so on would present to me. The library was also very useful and I would just pick random stuff based on what looked cool. I remember taping stuff like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Accept and listening to those tapes endlessly on my walkman. A couple of years later I started buying tapes myself and later on CDs and vinyl. My first complete collection was the first 4 Bon Jovi albums on tape. I have always had a compulsion for collecting music and whenever I liked a band I would buy as many albums as possible with that band. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s we had 6-7 record stores in town so spending a day searching for records was no problem. Esbjerg my hometown was a hotbed in Denmark in the early 90’s with a lot of Death and thrash bands and that was also very inspiring. Invocator being the most well-known band of course.
How big is your collection?
Discogs says 4283 items today but it’s a little bit more as I never cared to catalogue all the promos I have. I worked in a record store for 18 years until 2015 so I’ve gathered quite a lot of promo stuff over the years.
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
Today my collection is mostly CD’s but also tapes and vinyl. I do not own a digital release and I only have an old IPod which I use in the car or when I go for a run. I do not use Spotify or other streaming services. I used to have a lot more vinyl but I sold a lot of it many years ago and with the prices today I just don’t have the urge to start collecting vinyl again. It’s good to be a CD collector again as vinyl has taken over and a lot of people sell their CD collection.
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?
I would count that as 5 items but I usually don’t have albums on more than 1 format with some exceptions of course. If I buy a version which I prefer over a version I already have I usually sell it. One can only listen to one format at a time anyways 😉
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
Yes, I love to have complete discographies! I don’t really care for live albums but with some bands I buy them anyway. I only buy compilations if they contain rare stuff or alternate versions. Buying a Best Of release with a band where I have a complete discography is not really interesting but as I’m mainly into the more extreme kinds of metal metal those releases a few and far between anyways.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
I organize it alphabetically by band name and then chronologically with each band. I have a few rooms where I store my CDs and in each room it’s organized separately. The main collection is in the living room but I’ve run out of space.
Do you insure your collection?
Yeah, I have it insured but I doubt I would make a good deal out of a stolen collection as the insurance company demands a picture of the barcode and each spine and I don’t have the time for that. But the value of my collection is inluded in the house insurance.
How do you store your collection?
I have 11 double CD racks which store about 400 CDs each. 8 of them are in the living rooms and 3 in other rooms where I also keep my fanzines. Boxes and books are in the bedroom and vinyl and tapes in a cupboard along with some CDs.
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 am a music fan generally so I do have all sorts of music but Metal is by far the majority. I am mostly into death, black, doom and grind. I fell in love with the more extreme metal in the late 80’s when I discovered Kreator, Sepultura and Metallica and in 1991 I moved to death and black metal and I never looked back. My metal collection would probably look something like 45% death metal, 35% black metal, 10% Doom and the rest Heavy, Thrash, Hair and Progressive Metal. However I have never taken the time to actually divide my collection into categories.
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I mostly buy but I do sell at times if I get bored by something or if I buy a collection from someone then I keep the stuff I need and sell the rest. As I said I don’t really care for having 15 versions of the same album. I made the mistake of selling my vast demo collection years and years ago and also a lot of vinyl which years later turned out to be quite valuable. As I’ve been working with music for most of my adult life I find it hard to let go of the trade so I love both buying and selling. I could have had a much bigger collection but I do not collect to have vast amounts of music but to have quality over quantity.
What is your preferred format?
Well, that would be CD as I said earlier. However if a release is only availbale on vinyl I will buy that. Tapes are nostalgic for me but I don’t buy them anymore.
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 Discogs as I find it to the most reliable concerning value and it’s a pretty easy way to add new items. Sometimes you also get interesting offers through Discogs so I’ve sold some stuff I didn’t really care for if the price was high enough. I used to have a spreadsheet but gave that up years ago.
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. )
Regarding Metal Discogs tells me it’s stuff like Sacrificial “Forever Entangled” CD, the Gorguts LP box, the Demilich LP box etc. But it’s hard to tell as some of my rare items have never been sold so I don’t know what they’re worth. I don’t have any items that could buy my a new car like the Bathory Yellow Goat LP though 😉
What is your rarest item in your collection?
I guess it could be something like the Ripping Corpse “Industry” promo tape which only 7 people on Discogs have. Maybe the compilation tape “Choir Of Solitude” I did in 1993 as it wasn’t that widely spread haha. I also have a lot of the early Death Metal first press CDs which were more widely spread on vinyl back then. But what is rare these days? If you have the money nothing is really hard to come by anymore.
What is the most you have paid for an item?
I am a very patient man so I would never spend 500$ on a CD. I just wait around and eventually I will find what I’m looking for and a repress will do until then. So I guess the Morbid Angel wooden Illud Divinum Insanus boxset is probably the most and that wasn’t that bad as I got it when it was released.
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
I have a lot of t-shirts but the really early ones my mom gave away which I still cry about every once in a while 😉 I love books and fanzines and I read a lot of biographies and genre books. I used to run a small underground distribution from 1992-1997 so I have quite a lot of fanzines stored away in the house. I have a lot of Metal coffee cups as well. Buying Iron Maiden beers and Cannibal Corpse cheese grinders has never really been my thing.
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
As I said I’m a patient man so I always seem to find what I want. Finding stuff is not that hard these days; finding it a the right price is another story!
Why do you collect Metal music?
Because I love Metal! It also seems that the Metal community is the last bastion for physical releases and I guess it’s integrated in the genre to collect. You don’t find the new Neil Young album in 25 different colors on vinyl but with Metal it’s a different story. Collecting Metal has been part of my life for so many years and there’s always stuff I need to add so it never stops thankfully.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
I have no idea. Burning it along with me seems like a waste so hopefully one of my 3 sons will find pleasure in it.
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 fro your fellow collectors.
Keep supporting your local record store, the underground labels etc as that’s what keeps collecting possible and interesting. If the market for physical releases dies we’re all doomed! Collectors should also help each other and I loathe the people who buy multiple copies of limited releases only to sell them at ridiculous prices later on. Let the people who appreciate the music have the items. Let the Metal flow!!