Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series
Part 22: Dimitri S. (Germany)
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’. In 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 Rush documentary TIME STAND STILL. Ray is a Rush super-fan 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 a bit about yourself.
This is always the hardest question for me. I really don’t know how to start of where to go with it. I am 41 years old. Recently married. Born and raised in Ukraine. Where I fell in love with metal music. Actually, I got a gift – a tape deck with one dubbed tape, from my uncle. When I was like 11-12 or so… There was a Dio’s “Holy Diver” on one side, and Saxon’s “Power and the Glory” on the other. (still love them both). And for the first few years I used this tape to annoy shit out of my parents. When I was upset or angry with them, I would put this tape into the deck turn the volume to max and hide under the pillow, so I wouldn’t hear “that terrible noise”. And few years later, I realized, that the music actually doesn’t annoy me anymore and I really like to sound coming out of the speakers. This is where I started to like metal. This was when I was like 15. As you see, it took me a lot of time to get used to the “noise”. 😊Then, a week before my 20thbirthday I moved to Germany with my family. Where I am living since. Working a normal job, that has nothing to do with music…
Tell us how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
Oh…😊That’s a bit convoluted story. I started to collect dubbed tapes when I was like 16 (it was impossible to get any legit stuff back then in USSR). Then when I started to earn some money, I started to buy CDs. Few of my first were surprisingly very diverse and a bit of left field to get into metal as I mostly got bands recommended by the older brothers of some of my friends.:
X-Wild – a damn underrated band, created by the entire line up of Running Wild with a new lead vocal. They released only three albums between 1993 and 1997 and then split up, after being screwed by the manager. My favourite is their sophomore album “Monster Effect“ from the year 1995. Awesome record. Totally underrated.
Running Wild, Gamma Ray, Grave Digger, Crematory (the German one), Clawfinger, Megadeth, Liv Kristine first solo album (back then from Theatre of Tragedy fame), Blind Guardian.
When I started listening to metal, I didn’t like “not clear” vocals at all. So, I was more on the power metal side then. Then I learned about a biggest Russian Metal act – Aria and became a real fan. Still a fan. 😊
Surprisingly, as I had no metalheads among my friends, I came to the big ones only much much later, and from a very strange side.
The first album from Iron Maiden I heard – “The X-Factor”, first album I heard from Judas Priest – was “Jugulator”, Megadeth – “Cryptic Writing”, and besides a ballads compilation, the first album I heard from Metallica was “Load”…
And so, my collection was slowly growing. I was at about 40-50 CDs and few tapes when I moved to Germany. And the collection went to a basement for years, there were neither time nor money or any interest. I bought few CDs sometimes, but at some point in time, when the money was very tight I sold it almost entirely.
Came back to collection music again when I finished university, got a job and got some free money available.
How big is your collection?
Actually, yesterday cracked 6500 items….
(Sorry to interrupt, this is the wife. WTF????? I’m gonna kill you!!!!)
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
|(Others singing frogs?)||14||0.22%|
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 count only physical items. One media – one item. Exceptions are boxes, as box counts one, regardless the number of medias or albums it contains. (Sorry to interrupt again… There are also more then 6500????)
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
It really depends. There are few bands I am trying to collect everything, but even then, I do not collect compilations. But mostly I collect only studio albums.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
Semi-Alphabetically😊All bands starting with A are grouped together, sorted by the size of the bands presents in my collection. Say if I have 12 CDs of Angra and 8 CDs of Alchemist, Anger will go first, then Alchemist. Inside the group all albums by a same band a staying next to each other. But this goes only for CDs. Vinyls are sorted only by letters.
Do you insure your collection?
It is insured with my home insurance.
How do you store your collection?
Due to the space restriction in our flat, the collection is distributed between two rooms. CDs are in a stored in the shelfs I bought in internet and extended them up to the sealing. Vinyls are in IKEA Kellax shelfs.
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 never thought about such split, so I just ran some analysis on my collection… 😊
The most significant look like these:
Doom, Gothic, Speed, Symphonic, Folk are somewhere in a region of 2-3% with about 200 items for the genre. But of cause some albums belongs to more than one genre, therefore the total number is probably higher than the collection count.
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I mostly buy, I have few boxes that are for sell or trade, but somehow nothing is happening there. I want to sell at a record fairy rather than only, but I didn’t manage it before and with current situation it is not clear when the next one will happen.
What is your preferred format?
That’s a hard one. I think every format has its perks.
CDs are compact, the sound quality is awesome. You can easily digitalize it and have it in your pocket at any time. On the other side, its dying format at the time, as the market moves in the digital direction, some companies do not release CDs anymore.
Vinyl is an awesome format. With huge covers, where you can spend hours looking for details on the ones like of “Somewhere in Time”. If you have a nice release it feels like holding a piece of art in your hands. On the negative side – it’s hard to digitalize (thankfully many labels provide a download codes), the prices sky rocketed in the last few years as it came back to mainstream. And labels are trying to capitalize on it as hard as they can. They release 10-12-15 versions of the same release on different coloured vinyls. It feels a bit like a comic bubble of the 90s.
Tapes are also cool. It gives you this old DIY feel. And I love old (and even some new) demos on tapes. On the downside here also the digitalization thing. And I can’t really get the point of releasing new albums by established bands on tapes. This is definitely a complete mystery for me.
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 am a person with a very analytical mind, IT background and a bit of control freak. I track my collection in two online services at the same time. One is discogs – as there you can buy and sell, as well as track a value of your stuff and a great German service called music-sammler.de – the page is completely in German. There you can track where when you bought stuff, how much you paid etc. It also allows you extract your collection into the file, which can be then imported into Excel. Where I can do additional analysis (like genres split above).
I also have an Excel list for my whish list, so I can have it on my mobile all the time and consult it when in a record store.
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. )
This would be Nightwish – Sleepwalker promo single CD (the highest price it was sold on discogs was 1500 Euro with a median price been 850 Euro and last time available for sale more than three years ago). It seems like nobody knows definitely how many copies were made, but the number is somewhere between 10 and 20. The single was produced in 2000 as Nightwish was competing for the honour to represent Finland in European Song Contest. The single was produced to be distributed to some radio stations in Finland to promote the band and the song.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
The Nightwish single probably would be the rarest item in the collection. Or maybe the Metallica – Ride the Lightning Picture disc misprint. With part of picture missing on the B-Side, not sure if there is more than a handful copies went into the world, as it is definitely a production defect and the visible one.
I also have a small “collection” of about 20 Test-Pressings. These usually also really rare items.
Another contender would be a bootleg copy of Rhapsody‘s “Symphony of Enchanted Land” signed by the entire Band and “Legendary Tales” signed by Fabio Lione and Tilo Wolf from Lacrimosa… 😀
What is the most you have paid for an item?
About 150 USD for an Arcturus LP.
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
Not really collecting. I have few DVDs/BluRays from the bands I collect most excessively and also few books (like 4-5) and probably about 20-25 T-Shirts.
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
Oh… The list of such items is huge. 😊When I discover a new band,I really fall in love with I want to have most things they released, and when you discover bands that are around for few decades now, it’s getting really hard to find their first demo tapes e.g. 😊
But there are two items that slipped through my hands on ebay (in both cases, because I forgot to bid) and one, because I missed notification, that I am sad for years now. These being the first full length album by Arcturus. First vinyl release. The second being a package of three original Blind Guardian (Lucifer’s Heritage) demo tapes and the third one is the first demo tape by Iced Earth.
Why do you collect Metal music?
I love metal. I love being able to hold music in my hands and I like the idea that me buying metal records help bands stay alive. (And I am a hoarder! says my wife!)
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
I gave my wife password to my discogs account lie!– so she can check what items what worth and decide by herself what to do with this information. At least she’ll have a base line for the value.
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.
Very often I can hear form different people that “The 80s was the best time for metal and nothing good came out since.” And I also heard few times that people are usually do not get into the new music and do not discover new music for themselves after about 28-32 years old. I really can’t understand where it coming from. I feel like there is much more new interesting and innovative music coming out currently, than ever before. I discover new music and new styles every day.
With the technology currently available for every young musician to start own band and write music as well as thanks to platforms like Bandcamp, YouTube, etc to distribute and bring new people there is a such amount of music to discover, that I sometimes filling like I am drowning in a new music. And there is such abundance of one-man/girl-bands doing such awesome music. And new styles popping left and right all of the time. I think now is the best time to be a metal head ever. Sure, there are some downsides to the current time, as there is no way to see Titans and Legends life on stage, such as Ronnie James Dio, Vinnie Paul, Dimebag Darrell, Cliff Burton and many more who passed away. Still, to say that the metal is dead – never were as wrong as now.
As a final note Dimitri wanted to promote one of his newest favourite bands; Dream Troll! Check out this traditional Metal band from England!