Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series
Part 27: Danko Jones (Canada)
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! When did you start?
DANKO: I guess I started collecting back in grade school when I would save up allowance money and odd job money and buy cassettes in downtown Toronto. I started buying vinyl when too many cassettes unravelled and I discovered used record stores like Vortex Records and Driftwood Music. You could buy a couple of records for the same price as one new cassette.
How big is your collection?
DANKO: I go through spurts of selling a lot off and then buying some more. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve managed to sell around 100 records and bought only 2. I think my collection is only around 1300 or 1400. Not much, really.
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
DANKO: I only consider vinyl “a collection”. I have about 500 or 600 cds but they don’t count. I also have terabytes of albums on hard drives but they don’t count either.
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?
DANKO: Again, a record collection, to me, is only vinyl. I might have a copy of an album on vinyl and cd and a digital MP3, but I only consider it “collected” if it’s on vinyl.
When you collect certain bands, do you buy all of their stuff such as Live albums, EP’s, Compilations, box-sets etc?
DANKO: I used to be a completist but over the last 10-15 years I’ve really stopped caring about every single item. It’s too much of a burden and not enough money to buy every desired record.
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
DANKO: Organizing record collections by genre absolutely disgusts me. I have a physical reaction when I see it – dry heaving and slight headache. If I’m at someone’s place, I’ll be polite, but on the inside, I want to avert my eyes. There are so many bands that can fall under multiple categories. Is Motörhead a rock band or a metal band? To me, they’re a rock band but to others they are metal. Lots of people think we’re even a metal band.
Alphabetically, regardless of genre, is the only way to go. Also, organizing by last name is the only option. If someone puts Tom Waits records in their “T” category, I immediately know I am dealing with a halfwit.
Do you insure your collection?
How do you store your collection?
DANKO: Vinyl needs to be in plastic record sleeves/bags. When I see record collections without them, usually records are scuffed and spines are peeling off, it tells me this person probably doesn’t thoroughly wash their hands after taking a dump. They might even have halitosis or carry a tape worm or both.
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?
DANKO: I don’t think like that. I have no idea. I find this way of thinking so odd.
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
DANKO: I’ve been selling cassettes, cds and vinyl since I was a little kid. It used to be to used record stores but as they’ve just about dried up, it’s now to record show organizers. I don’t like trading.
What is your preferred format?
DANKO: I love vinyl records. I do also understand that for people who never grew up with it, vinyl records are cumbersome. I think a lot of people who fancy themselves record collectors are really more into buying furniture. Records these days are often used as something to display than actually listen.
Having said that, I do listen to a lot of music online and via MP3 players.
How do your track your collection? Do you use a spreadsheet or one of the on-line services or even a hand-written list?
DANKO: I recently catalogued my whole collection on Discogs but I lost the password to log back in once I was done. It was a nice way to go through my collection with a fine tooth comb and see how much they were worth. Sadly, most weren’t worth as much as I had hoped.
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. )
DANKO: I had a some records that were over $100, nothing more than 10 or 12. I sold a few of them over the pandemic but not for nearly the price Discogs quoted. I still have my Ramones “End Of The Century” album that seems to be a pressing that’s currently worth around $120-$140. That’s about as valuable as it got. I know there’s a couple more records in that area but that’s about it.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
DANKO: Hmm….I don’t know. Maybe signed copies of albums from bands? Motörhead, Mötley Crüe? A recently acquired the Vincent Price Co-Star album, which has been on my want list for years.
What is the most you have paid for an item?
DANKO: I can’t think of a specific album, but I know I’ve paid for albums over $50 while out on tour. I don’t pay any more than that no matter what.
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
DANKO: I used to collect Metallica live bootleg DVD’s but I don’t anymore. I’m probably gonna give that away.
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
DANKO: It’s not that rare but I would love to have “To Hell With The Devil” by Stryper with the original artwork. I saw it in a record store in Iceland once but it was waaaaay overpriced.
Why do you collect Metal music?
DANKO: I like to listen to people who sound angrier than me. It’s strangely calming.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
DANKO: Hopefully the bubble on vinyl collecting wouldn’t have burst and family members would be able to benefit from its sale.
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.
DANKO: I should come clean and say that I mainly collect odd/kitsch records these days than anything metal. I mean, I still listen to a lot of metal.
I post a lot of this collection on my @nextlevelrecordcollecting Instagram account. There you can view my copy of the Jack Palance solo album or my Barbara Woodhouse “Train Your Dog” album or my rare Canadian Rattlesnakes nature album etc. etc.
Also, I’ve quietly told friends that once I have all Co-Star albums, I will stop collecting vinyl forever.