Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series. Part 6
Jeff Brownell (America)
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!
My name is Jeff Brownell. I reside in a small town in upstate NY called Gloversville. It’s about 30 miles west of the capital Albany. I’ve lived here pretty much my entire life.
Tell us how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
I started getting into music when I was very young,about 6 or 7 thanks to older brothers. In 1976 when I was 8 and I heard Kiss for the first time I was hooked. It has just grown from there. Then came Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Aerosmith, B.O.C., Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple,etc…
How big is your collection?
Currently my collection stands at about 3000 CD’s. I do have some vinyl and cassettes but not much. Maybe 100 pieces of each. My primary collection is indeed the compact disc. I’ve sent a pic separately. Just one cabinet.
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 one?
I count my collection as one piece per band. So if I have two different versions of an Album ( One Japanese import and a domestic release) ) I still count it as one because it’s still essentially the same record. If I have different formats of the same album (cd,Vinyl,cassette,etc…) then I will count them individually because even though they are the same record they are cataloged differently for me.
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
I’m not a completionist ( is that even a word hahaha) whatsoever. I have to like the music first and foremost. The material has to “mean” something to me. I do by some live albums. It depends on the band. I certainly don’t feel the need to buy every bands live record. Ep’s are essential if they contain new material I like. If they just contain bootleg stuff and live material or different versions of songs then again,it depends on who the band is. Some are more important than others to me. Box sets are typically a waste of money in my opinion. I usually have most of the material contained within because a majority of it has been released on the bands regular studio albums. Again though,it depends on who the band is and what the box set actually contains.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
I organize my collection alphabetically and then chronologically. Start with the first “A” band then their albums in order of release and then the next “A” band and so on…
Do you insure your collection?
I do have insurance on my collection for $100,000
How do you store your collection?
My collection is housed in large cabinets with sliding glass doors so you can see all of my cd’s without having to actually go inside of the cabinet.
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?
My preferred genre is Thrash and I have quite a bit of it but I really don’t have a breakdown. If I had to guess I’d say that the least represented styles of what I like is probably Black Metal.
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I strictly buy my collection. I have traded/sold in the past but I’ve gotten away from that practice over the last several years. I’m not willing to part with my stuff so that takes away the trade aspect and I’ve only sold a few pieces here and there that either I had duplicates of or I just didn’t have any interest in for whatever reason.
What is your preferred format?
My preferred format is definitely the compact disc. I like its sound,its convenience and its durability overall.
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 track my collection through a program called Readerware. It’s available for music,movies and obviously books. It’s extremely easy to use and fairly inexpensive.
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. )
I honestly don’t believe I have any really valuable pieces. I just buy music that I like and I always have. I’ve never bought something with the viewpoint that it would be worth a lot of money down the road. That’s just not me. I just happen to have a lot of cd’s because I like a lot of different bands. I know something like the original copy of Violence-Eternal Nightmare on the MCA/Mechanix label fetches like $50-$60 usually. I have that and some stuff similar but nothing real valuable worth hundreds of dollars.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
The rarest item I have is a cassette from a band called Primal Scream. They were formed out of the ashes of the original Carnivore (Peter Steele/Type O Negative). They released one album back in 1987 titled Volume on Mercenary records and it’s initial pressing was only 500 on cassette. I have one of those 500.
What is the most you have paid for an item?
I think the most I have paid for an item was in the $50 range for a cd buy a Japanese band called Anthem. They’re stuff is only available as an import as they have no domestic North American record deal. I pay almost any price for Anthem. They are worth it in my book. 🙂
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
I definitely have other Metal related memorabilia such as T-shirts,mugs,DVDs,Pop Vinyl collectibles,books,etc…but I only have so much space currently so I have to somewhat limit myself on what I buy. T-shirts are my biggest addiction. I have at least 150 ranging from Rush to Cannibal Corpse to Dream Theater to Black Death etc…
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
A couple of items have eluded me now for awhile. One is the very first Pretty Maids ep on cd. I see it once in awhile on ebay but it’s ridiculously over priced most of the time. Another piece is Gehennah and their first album titled Hardrocker. I had it back in the 90’s but it was lost in a move somehow and I’ve never been able to score it back on cd for a reasonable price. I’m sure there are many more I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Why do you collect Metal music?
I collect Metal music because it’s the genre of music I enjoy most. I have other bands outside of metal in my collection but Heavy Metal will always be my first love. It’s been there since I was a child. I was lucky enough to have been born at the right time to be able to actually witness the growth of the genre. All of its many bastard children like Thrash,Death,Black,Progressive,etc… I was there through all of it. From the early 70’s ’til the present. It’s been quite the ride.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
It’s already been established that my three children are to inherit my collection after I pass away and not a second before hahaha…
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.
I guess the one thing I want to say that kind of goes against the general idea of this whole interview is that I don’t really see myslef as a “collector”. I’m just an average guy who loves Heavy Metal and buys what I enjoy from the bands that I like. I have a good sized collection of music and memorabilia only because I have been buying stuff for so many years,stuff I thoroughly enjoy listening to,reading about,etc…but I wouldn’t really call myself a “collector”.