Heavy Metal Collectors: An interview series
Part 29: Misha Heinen (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?
It was 1992 when I bought my first record. I spent my holidays together with my parents in Berlin. The radio stations played the song «Wind of Change» very often at that time. So I decided to spend my pocket money and bought the cassette: Crazy World. Back home I got in touch with some other Rock and Metal fans in or near my hometown. Together we startet to explore the holy world of harder music. We did tape trading, bought magazines like Metal Hammer, Rock Hard… but the weekly highlight was the Headbangers Ball show with Vanessa Warwick. Soon I bought more cassettes from a local music store ofAlice Cooper: Hey Stoopid, Iron Maiden: Seventh son of a seventh son and Guns’n’Roses: Appetite for destruction. But it didn’t take a long time until I changed from cassettes to CD’s because I got a CD player from my parents for X-mas. My first CD was Mötley Crüe: Dr. Feelgood. The rest is history, hahaha…
How big is your collection?
Today (25.4.2021) my collection includes 7034 CD’s, but on the release date of this interview I think I’ll have some more items , haha!
Can you give us a break down? (Vinyl, vs. Cassette, vs. CD vs. digital)
I don’t buy digital, I need something physical! However I put every single CD/song into iTunes as a «safety back up mp3 file». I don’t have a lot of cassettes/vinyl or other formats either. When I startet collecting, I choose CD’s as the format I like most. I mean if I was a millionair I would buy everything in every available format, but due to space problems and not having millions of dollars (or in my case Swiss Francs) I have to limit the collection to CD’s.
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 my CD’s in a strict way. If I own a release twice or more, I count them as often as I have it. But if a release includes bonus discs or is just released as a double (or more) edition, I only count it once. It’s a bit different with boxsets. If it’s a Best of – boxset, I count it as one item, but if the boxset includes studio albums (like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC did for example – look at the picture below), I list every single CD. Because of this, the amount of my collection at Discogs (they always list the boxsets as one item) and the displayed amount in my own made Word document doesn’t fit.
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 of how much I like a band, but mostly I want all their studio albums and their most famous live albums. Back in the days (90s) when the flood of releases was manageable, I often bought Bootlegs but I stopped because of the bad sound quality. I’m a bit more relaxed related to the fact the amount of bands I follow and support grows and grows and I really can’t buy everything of every band. So I have to select what I want to acquire and decide what isn’t that important and necessary for me.
Sometimes I deceide only to buy a «Best of»,if I only need a band’s most famous songs. But if I own a band’s whole discography it dosn’t make sense to me buying Best of-CD’s – except there are special bonus tracks I’m interested in. And what I don’t need either is an album in every available edition. But I confess, sometimes it hard to resist buying rereleases (especially if it’s a Mediabook, Digi or another nice looking edition, haha!
How do you organize your collection if at all; by genre, Chronologically? Alphabetically?
First I have to mention that I live in a house with small rooms… So I had to split my collection in two rooms / garrets. One is called «Heaven» and includes the genres Rock up to Heavy Metal. The other a bit smaller room is called «Hell» and includes the «harder stuff» – Thrash, – Death, – Black Metal, Grindcore, Metalcore …
So first I sort them by genres – the rest is very easy… first alphabetically, then chronologically in order to find them as quickly as possible if I want to pick one out of the collection. For the boxsets there are no special rules (except the genre – in which room they have to be exhibited.) I put them on top of the shelves – how I think they look best together.
Do you insure your collection?
When the insurance agent came to my house fort he first time (to negotiate a new deal for the household insurance) he couldn’t believe his eyes, hahahaha and he took evidence photos, hahaha! . But to answer your question – yes it’s part of the normal household insurance. By the way, the agent became a friend of mine and now he often calls me or writes me a message to ask me if I could lend him a CD of band certain, hahaha!
How do you store your collection?
I have to store my collection on two different kind of shelves. As you can see in each of the two rooms there is a wodden wall and in order to use the space perfectly I had to assemble this shelves myself. The black ones on the photos are shelves from a famous swedish furniture house…haha.
The newest acquirements I store temporarelly in my office desk. Once a month I add them to the collection. There are also some handmade shelves for boxsets on the wall.
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?
Ok, that’s really hard to say… I mean, the room «Heaven» is a bit bigger, so all I can say is, that the genres from Rock up to Heavy Metal are represented more in that collection owed to the fact, that I started listening to Death, – Black Metal later in the 90s. But I really can’t assert, that I prefer a genre. It really depends on the actual mood. What I would say is, that my music taste is a bit influenced by weather conditions and seasons. That means in spring / summer I use to listen more easier stuff (Rock, Hard Rock, Power, – Melodic Metal…) in autumn/winter my playlist is more filled with Black, – Gothic, Death Metal….)
Do you sell and trade or strictly buy?
I’m really not a trader but sometimes it happens that I order a CD twice. In this case I sell them to friends or at Discogs. Few month ago I decluttered my collection a bit… some Best of albums and bad purchases were «allowed» to go. But that’s really not a big deal, I won’t get rich with that, hahaha!
What is your preferred format?
My personal favorites are Earbooks, also known as Artbooks. They look absolutely gorgeous in my opinion – hardcover book style with lovely illustrations, linernotes and mostly some additional discs… you see, I love them. The Earbook’s «little sister» the Mediabook ist my second favourite. …not to forget Digis! And sometimes the labels make an effort to release beautiful boxsets like on my photos. But I’m also fine with standart jewelcase editions – I mean – it’s the music that counts!
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 have three Word lists: One with the whole collection, one «wish list» and one called «Newest acquirements. I also have a Discogs account where the most items of my collection can be found. There is also a wish list included. I wish I tracked my collection in an Excel list… I could sort then them (and switch the view) by band name, release date or genre… Word files are less flexible (or I’m too stupid to handle that, hahaha). But ok, I’m fine with the way it is…
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 really don’t care about the value of a CD, so I can’t give you an exact answer. A lot of my boxsets or limited editions are no longer available (if man can trust Discogs…). But more and more unsigned bands or bands with an independend label in the back only release a small batch of physical copies (most of them on Bandcamp) and if you miss the release date, the CDs are quickly sold out and often there’s no repress. These CDs rise extremely fast in high end prices. I don’t like this kind of development! And some traders play fast and loose with potential buyers… they catch several CDs and double (or triple…..) the price at Discogs/Ebay… For all of those: Fuck you! Sorry, but I have to write this!
But to come back to your question… the last two releases I bought and know that they are sold out AND have a high value are: Grima (Black Metal from Russia) with their third release: Will of the Primordial, …. and Eric Clayton’s (also known as the singer of the amazing band: Saviour Machine) solo debut: A thousand scars. The CD is limited to 300 physical copies and was released in February 2021 Shortly after the release I saw on Ebay someone’s selling this CD for 500 USD!! Absolute crazy!
But sometimes passion is gold… I was looking for Shade Empire`s: Omega… for a long time. Finally I found a copy on Discogs for about 80 Dollars. With a heavy heart I deceided to put the money out. About 3 or 4 months later the band rereleased the album. Available for 15 bucks, hahaha. A German idiom`s says: Luck is a deceptive friend.
What is your rarest item in your collection?
Ok, that’s easy! It is a 3 track demo tape of my first band Avenger, haha. Only 20 copies and I have only one copy! The songs are called: Slave to moonlight, Land of the Dawn and Black War….hahaha! OMG as time goes by… but seriously, I have no idea, I don’t really care about that, sorry. But this edition of Arrayan Path’s: Ira Imperium is limited to 50 copies and I’m a bit proud to own a copy!
What is the most you have paid for an item?
Some boxsets were really expensive like the newest Accept or Memorian releases… over 100.- I?ve also spent a lot of money on (about 80.-) for the CD: Dark Forest: Land of the Evening Star.
And I remember when I was 14 – 15 years old and heard the song «Medieval Steel» for the first time. I really wanted a copy! The guy from the music store had to import the CD from the USA… it took more than a month ‘till the CD finally arrived and I had to spend about 50 Swiss Francs! Back then this was a lot of money for me! But it was worth it because for that moment I was one of the happiest dudes in the world!
Do you collect other non-music Metal memorabilia such as books, DVD’s, T-shirts, stickers, hot sauces, wine/beer etc.
I wouldn’t call it «collect» but sometimes I buy DVD’s / Bluerays… but only if a movie really captivates me…or a nice bottle of Single Malt Whisky. Ok, ok, I love Single Malt Whisky, hahaha! As you may see below, the Single Malt Whisky collection grows and grows… There are some nice Band bottling for example from Hammerfall, Powerwolf, Grave Digger… I think In Flames was the first band who collaborated with a Whisky Distillery (Glenfarclas). But the most valuable «things» I’ve been collecting are memories / impressions while traveling around the world!
What is the one item you have been searching for that you cannot seem to find?
There are some Death, – Black Metal releases I’m looking for: Maat, Arcos, Demonical, Rotting Christ, So if you (who are reading this interview) have one of those items and want to sell it…or you know someone, or know someone who knows someone…hahaha!
There are some Death, – Black Metal (except «Civil War») releases I’m looking for:
Maat: Born in Sand (EP)
Arctos: A spire Silent (EP)
Demonical: Hellsworn (Album)
Civil War; Civil War (EP)
Grima: Tales oft he enchanted Woods (Digi)
Bloodbath: Unblessing the Purity (EP)
Before the Dawn: 4:17 am (Digi)
So if you (who is reading this interview) have one of those items and want to sell it…or you know someone, or know someone who knows someone…hahaha!
Why do you collect Metal music?
Why not? Hahaha. No seriously… I think it is so important to support bands by buying their stuff! Sometimes I suspect, more and more people are losing a bit the view of what muisc is worth and how much time, money, sweat and toil the bands put into a release! Music has a bit degenerated into a «general good» if you know what I mean…
…and in my two rooms I`ve created my own small world where I can forget the all day problems and immerse into my own world of music.
In a morbid and Metal question, what do you plan to do with your collection when you die?
My slaves (whoever and wherever they may be, haha) will build me a pyramid and I’ll get buried with my whole collection. The second idea is, I’ll hide and bury the whole collection somewhere in the middle of nowhere (Norwegian Woods maybe) shortly before my passing, then I’ll design a treasure map and after my death – let the game / quest begin! My third proposal is, my friends and family simply set me and the collection on fire – my body bedded on a Viking ship of course… hahaha ! In the case all those scenarios won’t occur (what’s sad but likely) my wife will inherit all the stuff… I’m not a father yet, but I hope I will one day…so my child or children would get the whole collection… ok… I really like the pyramide – idea the most!!! Hahahaha!
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.
Just a bit of / suggestions / pieces of wisdom from an old collector to the younger among us :
Never compare your collection with others ! Be satisfied with what you have and don’t be discontented or disappointed about what’s missing ! You will NEVER own everything you want ! A collection will NEVER be completed ! Your boy -girlfriend, wife/husband may not always react as excited about new acquisitions as you do ! Despite collecting being a wonderful hobby – you also need money for food!
Anything else? Stay healthy and keep on rocking, banging and collecting! Thank you for your interest! And Joshua, many thanks for contacting me and for giving me the chance to exhibit my collection to the rest of the world. May all the guardian angels (…and demons) alway watch over you!