Category Archives: Collectors in Belgium

Week 4, 2014: Geert, Belgium

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?

When I was a child, my parents had a Blaupunkt record player and some records. Most of them were easy listening, but there were also a couple of classic jazz records and a single by Louis Prima (‘Buona Sera’) that was really rockin’! In 1965 when I was twelve I wanted my own records and my first one was a 7” EP by Belgian/Italian singer Adamo. He was my first idol. A boy in my neighborhood had an older brother and there I heard The Beatles (‘Can’t Buy Me Love’) and The Rolling Stones (‘Tell Me’). That sound got me and my first single was ‘Tell Me’ c/w ‘Route 66’. I knew people in the family that had a lot of records (mostly singles) and that fascinated me. I had another friend who had a much older brother with a big jazz collection. I remember seeing him sitting in his tiny room with a record player on his right side and there was always jazz … When The Beatles became more experimental with ‘Revolver’ and got a more arty image, I was allowed to buy my first LP, it was ‘Revolver’ … I didn’t look back since. I started collecting all the Beatles songs (unfortunately I sold some now valuable singles and EP’s, because I had the songs on LP). I became mainly a LP collector and singles were only interesting when the songs were not on a LP. My next discovery was The Cream with Clapton, Bruce and Baker. I had all their LP’s, which was rare in those days (in Belgium that was…). My next discovery was the very first Pink Floyd album ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’. After that came Colosseum, the first Black Sabbath, the first Yes etc … Later I became a big fan of progressive rock, krautrock, experimental rock, Kiss, Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix and Nazareth. In between I also bought jazz albums now and then. When the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal came along, that was my thing. I also got interested in US Metal and glam. I got the very first Mötley Crüe album on Leathür records when it was released from a contact in Oregon, USA. In 1983 I started doing a hardrock show on local radio and that’s when I got my first promo records. In 1986 I started writing for a metal magazine here in Belgium called Mindview. That were golden years for promo CD’s. When Mindview stopped, I started writing for Rock Tribune, a glossy magazine that is sold on the newsstands. But the well for promo CD’s is dry now, almost everything comes digitally these days. Today I have a 20.000 plus collection with 50% titles on vinyl and the other half on CD. I also have a lot of music video’s (VHS, DVD and Blu-ray).

Do you remember your first purchase?

As I told already, my first EP in 1965 was by Adamo, my first single by The Stones and my first LP was ‘Revolver’ by The Beatles in 1966. My first music video was by Nazareth (‘Live’) in 1982. My first CD was ‘Live At Winterland’ by Jimi Hendrix (1987).

I know you started early with your vinyl passion. How do you think the music progressed from the time you begun to discover music to today’s style ?

Well of course there’s a big evolution with a couple of important bench marks. In the fifties there was Elvis, In the sixties there were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. From there came bluesrock, heavy rock, progressive rock, experimental rock, folk rock … Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Bob Dylan… Everything changed when punk and new wave came along at the end of the seventies. At the start of the eighties ‘classic rock’ fought back with the new sound of NWOBHM and at the other side of the Atlantic US Metal. Along came popmetal and glam … Again at the end of that decade we got grunge and alternative rock. The big names are still big names and metal has become a very dark and sometimes extreme place. To be honest, I am starting to lose my affinity with it and I go back to all the great music that was made in the last sixty years and listen more and more to jazz and fusion as well. The biggest evolution at the moment is in the way people consume music, with things like Youtube, MP3, downloads etc … All kinds of music is being made and there something for everyone. The history of the music is also not forgotten and that is a good thing. I see my daughter – with a love for dance music – going on Youtube researching the music of the fifties and sixties!

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?

Today, it’s mostly classic rock, jazz, fusion and progressive/experimental rock. I love an earsplitting metal record now and then though! For the magazine I do a lot of female fronted metal band. Recently I interviewed Within Temptation and a very exciting Spanish band called Diabulus In Musica is on my list.

One of my favourite labels, Mausoleum Records, are hailing from Belgium. They got a undeserved bad reputation I think. What are your own experiences of them ?

Well, they managed to release a lot of albums during the rise of metal in the eighties and I think that their ambition was honest, but running a label is a very expensive thing and maybe, they could not meet all financial obligations, I don’t know. Today their catalogue is impressive and collectable. What I know, is that Doro is still very grateful that her band Warlock got it’s break through Mausoleum. Today they still release CD’s and the guy behind the label is still active in the music business.

How do you discover new music?

By reading magazines, by getting promo downloads. We even have a couple of record shops here with listening facilities. Today my priority is not so much in discovering new music, but in consolidating my collection and enjoying it. I am retired now and finally have the time to enjoy it!

ImagePlease let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect? Many record stores left?

Yes here are a lot of collector’s, but everybody does it quite isolated I think. I regret that there isn’t more contact between collectors. A blog like yours is a very good thing! Record fairs are attracting a lot of costumers and in the bigger cities like Antwerp, Ghent or Brussels, there are still a lot of stores. Also in Liège, Bruges, Kortrijk, Leuven and Mechelen, there are interesting collector’s stores. We even have some specialist metal stores. The big chains have all folded though. The only one lasting now is Media Markt. Their Belgian shops still have a lot on offer.

You are we well reputed reviewer on metal-nose.org, please let us know more about it!

Well, in the past I wrote all my reviews for Mindview and now for Rock Tribune. The Metal-nose site gets the things that are not used by Rock Tribune. These days I do five or six reviews and a couple of interviews per month. In the days of Mindview, I sometimes did more than 20 reviews in one month!. These days I get some melodic rock acts for interviews and like I told already some female fronted bands.

Acid, Ostrogoth, Warhead, Crossfire – the 80’s were great ! How about these days ??

Don’t forget Killer who are the godfathers of Belgian metal! Today there are a lot of metal bands around. The best known are Channel Zero and Iron Mask. They are very professional, but there are a lot of other bands in different metal styles. I just did an interview with Valkyre, a female fronted band that released a very good album. The Belgian music scene is more developed in other styles. Bands like Deus or Hooverphonic for example have international success but have a different audience. Also the dance scene is very developed here. One band that really makes it internationally is Triggerfinger with a crossover between classic rock and alternative rock.

ImageOver the years, I think I reviewed around 5000 records, and I have no ideas left, how about yourself?

Yes, I understand. I’m glad I write less reviews these days, and when I have to review, I want to listen properly to the record. Once I start writing, it goes quiet easy, although not every time. But there’s so much music coming out, in spite of the fact that everybody is complaining in the music business.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?

These days I buy most of them online (Discogs), but also at fairs and second hand shops mostly in Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels.

How were your feelings when Plastic Bertrand ‘s (scam) project switched from a punk rocker to disco freak ?? “Ca plane pour moi” still stands as a classic…

Yes, well today we all know that he didn’t even sing on that single. He was just used as a face to sell the record. So maybe he wasn’t a punk rocker by heart or he was guided by record companies towards a more commercial sound. He could sing though! He even sang in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxemburg!

ImageName three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.

Just three ??? Well, the records that really defined my musical evolution were Revolver’ by the Beatles, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ by Pink Floyd and ‘The Valentine Suite’ by Colosseum. I bought all three at a local shop in my hometown. The shop has long gone (today there no record shops anymore in my hometown). In those days you could really spend time in a record shop and listen to different records before you bought anything. We also had a weekly here called Humo and they had a section on rock music (they still do) and that was very educating (in the sixties and early seventies)! Two other records that defined my musical education were ‘Disraeli Gears’ by The Cream and ‘Days Of Future Past’ by The Moody Blues (which I bought in a shop in Luzern, Switzerland, while on holiday with my parents). A fifth one was ‘Firefly’ by Uriah Heep which I bought in a fantastic shop called ‘Brabo’ in Antwerp (now also gone).  The very first shop that sold rock only was in Bruges and was called Bilbo. There I discovered ‘Acquiring The Taste’ by Gentle Giant, another album that was crucial for my musical development. In the jazz and fusion section, Colosseum’s ‘Valentyne Suite’ and John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ were important triggers. Of course there are other albums, but these were really important.

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?

One thing that goes through my head is what will happen to all these big collections that were build by the people of my generation? I hope to find an answer for my collection. My children or grandchildren could keep it, but if they don’t, they should know how to handle this. I think there will always be collectors around and the collections of today should be passed on one way or another to the next generations. I think that records and more specific vinyl is considered as a cultural heritage now and people should take care of it. At fairs I see a lot of younger people and also more girls and women. We should find a way to interest younger people for carriers of modern culture, be it records, films or books … I hope we do!  It’s nice to see the renewed interest for vinyl, but I think CD’s will also come back some day as collectible objects. The constant flow of ‘limited editions’ is something that will have to prove it’s collecting relevance in the future. I remember seeing original spiral Vertigo albums in the early seventies sell in the bargain bins for less than 5 euro’s! Now they are very valuable collector’s items. Same goes for the very collectable Neon label! So who knows what will happen with today’s releases. Then there’s always the fundamental economic rule: supply and demand! But in the end, it’s the music that counts. Lots of fantastic records from the past still sell for very few euro’s because they are so many around, but the music stands! Collecting is always finding the balance between the music and the rarity. The music should come first …

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Week 52, 2013: Mike, Belgium

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
Back when I was still in my crib, I was already listening to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin… My father was an enthusiast of hard rock, and I grew up between his records. I was fascinated by the spinning vinyl as a toddler, and I constantly bugged my father to put on a record. So I was born and raised between classic rock records. When I was about 8 I got the Appetite For Destruction box set from my cousin. She outgrew her Guns ‘n’ Roses phase, and gave it to me. Back then I was a big fan, so I was truly over the moon. Also, it was a box set. So magical! I held on to that like it was a treasure (I also outgrew my Guns ‘n’ Roses phase quite quickly, but even to this day I still hold on to that box set. I think that box set sparked my collector’s soul). After that, I inherited the collection from some friends of my parents. There was much there I wasn’t particularly interested in back then (like The Cure and Depeche Mode), but there were some albums by AC/DC and Iron Maiden that grabbed my attention. Being really grateful, I held on to all those records (and I’m very happy I did, because in time really started to appreciate all those albums). This meant my pile of records was amassing, and I could start to talk about “a collection”. It also sparked my interest in metal. I raided our local libraries for metal music, and a whole new world opened up. And I was sold…

Do you remember your first purchase?
Yes, although my first purchase was a cd. I just got my first cd-player, and I was very eager to break it in. My first album was Morbid Angel’s Covenant. Plunged straight into the death metal pool! Got it when it was just released, and much to my surprise, this has been already 20 years ago! Time does fly…
I collected a lot of cd’s from then on. The Norwegian wave of black metal swept me away. But it didn’t take all too long before I returned to my trusted medium. With Satyricon’s Megiddo I rekindled my love for vinyl, and I started to buy a lot of vinyl too.

How long have you been collecting?
It depends on when you start to count. Back when I was 8? In that case, I’ve been collecting for some 25 years.
If you start counting from the moment I purchased the first album with my own allowance, it will be 20 years.

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Well, that kinda came in waves. In the beginning I mainly listened to death metal. Then Mayhem came, and it pulled me under in the Norwegian frenzy. Then somehow I ended up – via speed and thrash metal – in traditional metal. Until some 12 years ago I grew really tired of metal. It all sounded the same to me. Nothing that really excited me anymore. I discovered bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and the likes. I immersed myself completely in post rock. A friend of mine who liked post rock too said I should get into doom, because they kinda deal with the same atmosphere. I started to discover that end of the spectrum, and it felt like coming home. Bands like Isis, Cult of Luna and Pelican blended the post rock aesthetic seamlessly with doom metal, and I was excited all over. All of a sudden I got to know bands like Agalloch and rediscovered Enslaved, and saw that they too blended progressive and post rock elements with black metal. And all of the sudden, the circle was complete. Today I focus on a rather vast arrange of genres, but from my perspective it does make sense: post rock, post metal, doom, drone, ambient, black metal and progressive rock and metal. I occasionally take a jazzy side-step, but I still feel very much at home in my obsession for over 10 years now.

How do you discover new music?
I keep close watch to all kinds of blogs, Facebook accounts, and mailing lists like the Record Heaven Newsletter. Those channels usually keep me up to date with regards to the new and exciting albums and bands.
I also have a subscription to an experimental music zine (for those interested, it’s called Gonzo (Circus)), so if something might slip under my radar, I’m usually set straight by that zine.

ImagePlease let us know more about the Belgian situation. Many people who collect ? Many record stores left ?
Just like anywhere else in the world, Belgium too got hit hard by the crisis in the music business. A lot of record stores closed over the years, and it was really hard to get a hand of those underground releases. For years I mainly bought music online. There are a lot of collectors though. I have a lot of friends that share the passion for music collecting, so there was still a strong pulse. And as we grew older, we saw a lot of youngsters really getting into music. So there’s always been a real strong undercurrent for music in general and for collecting music specifically. And now the worst of the crisis seems to have been left behind us. The playing field kinda leveled out. Yes, downloading will be here to stay, but it also enabled the formation of music lovers who go to indie shops and buy the music almost as a kind of statement. In the last couple of years, a lot of young collectors joined our ranks. And it shows! Instead of closing down, in my city new record stores are opening up! So I’m very optimistic about the future.

You also run a label, Consouling Sounds, please let us know more about it !
Yes indeed, thanks. Well, that same friend who convinced me to listen to doom music also got me to join a black/doom metal band. Some 6 years ago, the group disbanded, and I had it with playing in live bands. All the trouble… It just wasn’t worth it. But I did want to keep on playing my part in the music scene. Almost by accident I spoke to Miguel who had a small label, but wanted to stop because he had had it with that dabbling in the margins. He wanted to stop and restart, and approach it seriously and with ambition. That sounded like music to my ears, and we teamed up to start consouling sounds. We both share a love for “post music” and all sorts of doom, so our focus was quickly found. We had the chance to release an album by Nadja early on, and that gave us a head-start. We managed to grow, and build a – if I say so myself – qualitative and respectable back catalogue. Some truly great bands, like Sweden’s Snailking for example, but also Amenra, The Black Heart Rebellion, or Gnaw Their Tongues and Alkerdeel have done some magnificent things on our label – and that’s just to name a few. I’m very grateful and feel truly blessed we’ve been able to work with these artists. And we keep our ambition going!

ImageWhere do you prefer to buy your records?
I prefer to by my records in brick and mortar shops. I like the crate digging, the personal contact with the salesman, and I just need to actually see and feel the records. Nothing more satisfying than coming home with some great finds. I visit my local record store nearly every week. I don’t even have to buy something. Just stop by and say hi. Have a little chat about what’s new and exciting… (Although I admit I usually do come home with a few records).
But I also buy online if a band I closely follow releases an album. I usually buy directly from the label or from the artists. Having a label myself, I feel compelled to support my colleagues. Also, buying directly from them mostly means you’ll be able to score some limited editions. I’m not completely hung up on colored vinyl and all, but there’s that collector in me that feels strangely attracted to anything “limited” 🙂
Only for out of print stuff, I resort to Discogs or eBay. And I rarely buy records for my own on Amazon or the likes.

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Well, the first one would be that Guns ‘n’ Roses box set I mentioned earlier. I was only 8, but I have vivid memories of it. I can’t begin to describe the impact getting that box set had on me. I really think that’s where I turned into the collector I am now. Some 25 years older, but in the mean time having a collection of 5000 albums and counting…

The second album would be the Isis Shades of the Swarm box set. Yes, another box set, I can’t help it. This box set was due to be released back when I was really short on cash. Me being a major Isis fan was absolutely gutted. Unfortunately, the box set was too expensive for me to ever buy it. My mom overheard me, and she convinced my whole family to pitch in. On the date of the release, the Shades of the Swarm box set got delivered to me. I just couldn’t believe it. The feeling of pure happiness and bliss in that moment has only been surpassed by the birth of my children. So yes, that was a pretty special occasion. I will never ever forget what my mom (and the rest of my family) did for me.

The third one would be Mass II by Amenra. I had been a huge fan of Amenra for years. I was dreaming to collaborate with Amenra on some kind of project with our label. A few years ago, that all came true. We got to reissue Mass II for the first time on vinyl. So I was able to release a band I adored, and got to work with people I tremendously respect. Something I’m incredibly proud of!

ImageAnd finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
I’m actually pretty confident about the future. Of course, the vinyl renaissance will surely temper again. The hype is a bit too much right now. I think the current popularity of vinyl to be a bit suspicious. 🙂

But I do believe it has sparked the collecting bug in a lot of youngsters. People are starting to physically buy music again. And I do think that’s a trend that will perpetuate. After our darkest days, I’m pretty confident we’ve had the worst, and we will reach an equilibrium. This will probably weed out the common denominator, but it will give some more breathing room to specialized shops. To be more precise, I’m not sure Madonna will necessarily flourish on a physical medium. Why would you buy it? The radio plays it all the time! But more niche stuff – usually released with a lot of care – will remain sought after. Of this I’m really sure!