Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series
Part 25: Thomas Brogli (Switzerland)
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 how you started collecting Metal! When did you start?
Ok, this is gonna be a longer story since I’d like to go way back before it started or what lead to it’s start. So please forgive me if I bore you to death and feel free to skip to the next question if you’re about to fall asleep.
It was in early 1981 when I was at the age of becoming 12 that some of my parents friends took me to the movies to see «Flash Gordon» when that hypnotic title track ‘Flash’ by the band Queen really grabbed my attention. I had to have that song and went to a local electronics shop in town that I knew had also some 7’’ vinyls and they were able to obtain me that record, the very first one I bought with my own money – and I still have it in my collection. Later I started buying albums by the band Queen and became a fan (luckily I never started collecting their stuff, otherwise I’d have gone broke years ago, haha) and was even fortunate enough to see them live twice.
Anyway, I was the only one in our high-school to listen to such ‚hard’ music and therefore no one introduced me to heavier stuff that was out there, but Queen whetted my appetite for harder music for sure. It wasn’t until in late 1984 when there was a format on Swiss television (we didn’t have MTV back then here) that would show various music videoclips once a week for half an hour (yeah, that’s all we got) where I saw/heard the songs ‘Run To The Hills’ by Iron Maiden that got me mesmerized.
I went to the nearest department store I knew that also had a records department and they even had a few albums by that then new to me Iron Maiden band. I checked all the trackless on the albums but couldn’t find ‘Run to the Hills’ on any of them. But I thought when this band had such a great song their other music must be good as well, so I was mostly impressed with the cover that had this massive cool looking egyptian pyramid on it – that would sound great for sure as well I thought – and it did of course. So that was my first Metal record and soon after I found a great record store in town that had quite an impressive department with heavy metal records and that’s where most of my money went from then on.
I am thankfull that I started collecting when one still had to go to record shops to find new stuff and rarities and later I was going to record fairs localy and across the country and even accross Europe where I met dealers from all over the world and many fellow collectors that shared the same ‘crazyness’ like I did.
It was always a thrill standing outside the record fair venues early in the morning waiting fort the doors to open and imagine what items I would find today. That was way before the internet where one would not know about almost everything that was out there, so you often find surprising new items at those fairs you didn’t even know existed.
I also still remember finding an add in a music mag from a private seller who offered the 1st pressing of Queensryche’s EP on 206-records. I had to hand write a letter and mail it to him, wait for his reply-letter back, send him some cash concealed in an envelope and wait for the vinyl to arrive at my place – all over a timespan of several weeks.
But I am also equally thankfull for nowadays that I have a family with kids, there’s this luxury of the internet that allows me to aquire items for my collection without having to travel and invest all the time and money anymore involved with that.
I still go to our local record shop to buy new releases so I guess I have/had the best of both worlds.
-How big is your collection?
Way too big according to my wife, haha.
It needs it’s own room and that one isn’t the smallest in the house… 😉
But to give you a number – if the non-music Metal memorabial is included as well it’s probably about 10 000 items in total.
-Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
Ok, that would be approximately 3’000 CD’s, 1’300 Vinyls & 500 cassettes.
So over half of my whole collection are items that are mentioned in the ‘other non-musical Metal memorabila’ question further below – that are mainly shirts & dvds/blurays/vhs (over 3’500 of those).
I do not have any ‘digital’ music that I don’t have a ‘physical’ equivalent of, except some demo-recordings of a band I used to be part of.
-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?
Well for example I do have something over 140 versions of Queensryche’s masterpiece ‚Operation: mindcrime’ and to get to such a number of collectibles that I stated above I do count them all as individual pieces ;).
And yes, they are all different, althou they all contain at least the same 15 original songs of the album no two of them are exactly alike – be it different foreign pressings, re-releases, promo-issues, testpressings, barcodes, copyrights etc.
Also back in the day many countries had their own record plants/factories and therefore their own local manufactured pressings. So I have various vinyl-pressing from these countries: USA, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Guatemala, Colombia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Korea, China, Japan, New Zealand, UK, Germany, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, South Africa.
And not to sound snobbish but I don’t count digital formats as ‘collectibles’ – I could download all music that’s on youtube and call it a collection, but that would be just an abomination.
-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 on the band. The two main bands I do collect are Queensryche & Nightwish and regarding Queensryche I buy really everything there is that contains the music of the band. For Nightwish I leave out the compilations that are not related to strictly the band itself, meaning compilations that feature just one song from the band and otherwise songs from other artists/bands I don’t collect from Nightwish but Queensryche.
For all other bands I usually just get one single version of their studio releases and that’s it. But that probably doesn’t fall under the strict definition of ‚collecting’ I guess. For example, I do have all studio releases from King Diamond on CD, but not because I do collect Kind Diamond in general but because so far I liked all his albums – if he’d put out a record I don’t like, I wouldn’t buy it even if that means I wouldn’t have his complete studio discography.
-How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
Again, the answer is ‘it depends’… 😉
My Queensryche & Nightwish collection is organized (separately from the other items) chronologically. And the CD’s/LP’s from all other bands are organized alphabetically, but only by the bands/artist first letter – maybe when I’m tired from my job and too bored I will organize it more detailed, haha.
-Do you insure your collection?
It is included in the total insurance sum for our whole household. I guess it would be about time to adjust it since that was done quite a few years ago and never changed since then.
-How do you store your collection?
Mostly in various different types of shelves from Ikea. But my Queensryche vinyls I have in a metal rack that I bought from a local record store when they didn’t need it anymore. Also my non-Queensryche/Nightwish CD’s are stored in some metal towers that can be turned around 360°.
-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’m sorry, I really don’t have a breakdown by genre. I come form a generation where one was listening simply to metal, no matter if it was Bon Jovi or Slayer (which I both like, at least the first few Bon Jovi albums ;)). I never was into extrem metal like grindcore or blackmetal since I guess Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of filth and Dissection aren’t considered ‘pure’ black metal.
For me there is actually just music I do like or I don’t like no matter of the genre.
My last purchases were from these artists to give you some kind of overview of the variety of my ‘taste’ : Trivium, Heathen, The Night Flight Orchestra, Crematory, Fates Warning, Rush, Rammstein, Candlemass, Pretty Maids, Dark Tranquillity, Evergrey, Subway To Sally, Warrior Soul, Communic, Hittman, Soilwork, Lords of black, Kobra And The Lotus, Tourniquet, Amorphis, Psychotic Waltz, Halestorm.
-Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I mostly just buy nowadays.
But sometimes when I listen to some old albums and I realize I don’t like it anymore as I used to, I usually sell or trade it, to make room for new stuff.
I also used to have much more vinyls, but sold most of them to replace ‘em by the CD version of it. Also when my Queensryche collection got bigger and bigger is sold many rarities from other bands to get more space and also more money to buy all Queensryche stuff.
I thought rather than trying to collect all kind of rarities from various bands and it becoming a never ending story, I’d better focus on one or two bands and try to get everything I can from them.
Little did I know this could be a never ending story as well, haha – but I feel I’m closer now to some kind of an end than I would have been if I would have kept collecting somehow ‘aimlessly’ like I did.
-What is your preferred format?
Another case of ‘it depends’… 😉
Judging from the numbers in my collection it is the CD for sure.
But I always rip it to mp3’s so I can listen to the music on the computer while I do work and I also have it on my old iIod-classic (160GB) when I travel from home to the office where I work and back.
A format that I have a special fondness for is the 7’’ vinyl single – that’s because I do own an old jukebox that plays them. About 70% of the singles in it are metal music singles and the rest mostly 80ties pop/rock-hits that I liked since my teenage days from artists like Depeche Mode, Abba, Duran Duran, U2, The Police, Pink Floyd, Queen and so on.
-How do your track your collection? Do you use a spreadsheet or one of the on-line services or even a hand-written list?
Oh man, tracking the collection is a bitch… sorry for the language… 😉
Again, I have multiple ways depending the part of my collection.
The musical stuff from Queensryche is in a list in the ‘Frontpage’ format on my computer. The musical Nightwish stuff in an Excel list. The CD’s & most LP’s are in my Itunes since I rip them.
My shirts are all at the thsirtslayer.com website and all the dvds/blurays are in a tool called „DVD-Profiler“. All the rest is tracked in my head and sometimes gets lost there, haha.
-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 think that would be my official awards from Queensryche & Nightwish – I guess some of them could fetch a price in the lower 4 digits range if I’ll find the right crazy person to pay it… 😉 And also the original Tri-ryche shaped guitar by ESP is in the same price range I’d say.
-What is your rarest item in your collection?
I guess all the testpressings, acetates & masterdiscs that exist only in a quantity of a handfull each.
But if I’d have to pick just one I’d say the white vinyl testpressing of Queensryche’s ‚Operation: mindcrime’ picture disc – I don’t know of any other collector who has a copy.
-What is the most you have paid for an item?
That would be the huge gold award for Queensryche’s Empire album that I bought sometimes in the 90’s. I think I paid about $3 000 for that one – but I was young, well paid and most importantly single without kids, haha.
-Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
The short answer is – yes, all of the above.
And then there are also press kits & promo-photos, tour-books & iteneraries, tabulatures, fanclub newsletters, patches, pins, necklaces, awards, passes, artwork-prints, posters, pants, instruments, newsletters, postcards, magazines, mugs, glasses, waterbottles, koozies, wristbands, bags, caps, scarfs, blankets, jackets, sunglasses, watches/clocks, pens, playcards, mousepads, cellphone-cases, belt-buckles, lighters, flags, bandanas, appron, recordstore-displays, drum-sticks, drum-heads, plectrums, strings, frisbee, keychains, bottle-openers, santa hats, flip-flops, condoms, nailpolish, cork screwers, tourist-brochure, stamps, coffee, energy-drink.
I’m sure I forgot something, haha.
In a kind of ‚metal-related’ thing, I am also collecting a bit stuff (litographs & sculptures/figures) from the Swiss artist HR Giger who’s art has been prominently featured on quite a few metal bands album sleeves like Celtic Frost, Danzig, Carcass, Sacrosanct, Atrocity & Tryptikon to name a few.
-What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
That would probably be Queensryche’s official platinum award for the ‘Promised Land’ album issued by the RIAA, that I’m looking for for decades now – it’s the only one from their studio albums that I am missing.
-Why do you collect Metal music?
Because I’m an addict and I don’t want to be cured…;)
I probably have this ‚collectors-gene’ implanted in my DNA – it’s just such a great and rewarding hobby, not only the collecting, hunting and hoarding of these items but also the people you get to know along the way doing it – that’s really as important for me, some became very good friends of mine for many years now.
And I also have a kind of ‚gentelmen’s agreement’ with two other collecting buddies that whomever of us sees something he wants first on eBay he let’s the other two know and then it’s ‚hands off’ for the others. Of course I missed some items because of that but also saved a lot of money that would have been spent in bidding wars’ against each other when no one else would be bidding anymore.
-In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
I actually have a ‘pact’ with another Queensryche collector who lives is the USA (hello Mike if your read this ;)) – we are in each others will to inherit ones collection.
I also have a good friend here in Switzerland who’s also an avid Nightwish collector, so he’ll have some comfort if I should die before him, haha.
As for the rest, it’s up to my wife & kids what they want to do with it. My wife listens to metal as well, so I guess she’ll keep most of the albums.
-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 think collecting is a great and rewarding hobby that never gets tired (except when Nuclear Blast is releasing the 11th vinyl-color of the latest Nightwish release ;)) and sends you on a journey like a neverending rollercoaster ride. I will be collecting until my last breath I guess and the journey is more important than destination in this case for sure.
If there are any nerds or curious collectors (but that’s the same, isn’t it ? ;)) that want to see more of my Queensryche or Nightwish collection,m I have websites for them that I updated usually once per month – there’s still hundreds of items I need to photograph or scan, so there’s still new items being added for quite some time.
For Queensryche I also do have also a facebook page where I upload magazine articles, clippings, ads, fanclub newsletters & mags, promo stuff, live pics etc – so called ‘paper-goods’. It’s located here:
Some might call some items there even spectacularly majestic 😉
And for those who don’t know it, I’d like to recommend to visit the tshirtslayer-website, it’s promoted as the «Worlds largest community of heavy metal t-shirt and battlejacket collectors.
My stuff there can be seen here : https://tshirtslayer.com/user/brogli