Tag Archives: collecting vinyl

Week 1, 2015: Danny, Ireland

dannyWhat made you start collecting records?
My initial exposure to vinyl came through my mother’s collection, which she amassed through her youth in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Her favourite band was Queen and she bought albums or singles as they were released largely by mail order. The first vinyl I consciously remember hearing at home was her “War of the Worlds” DLP while following the story through the booklet as well as continually staring at the fantastic artwork on the gatefold sleeve! I was really besotted with the sound, feel and presentation.

Sometime later, she also introduced me to Alice Cooper “Alice Goes To Hell” and “Welcome To My Nightmare” LPs both of which combined that sense of narrative with creepy rocking music. All three records were essentially on permanent loan to me by the time I had my first record player around the age of 15 years old and remain in my collection today even though she is still alive!

dturntableDo you remember your first purchase?
Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, cassette was the format of choice. I began borrowing original copies from my older cousins and friends from school to feed my craving for more heavy music. My first purchase was Metallica “…And Justice For All”. Over the next twelve months, I continued buying original, albeit often second hand copies, of cassettes from friends. Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Slayer. I was reluctant to waste money on CDs as they tended to cost another 50% more than brand new original cassettes and without a part-time job in my early teens itcould have easily been a month between buying albums unless somebody else was culling their collection.

But it did mean that there was time to really absorb the music of each and every one. You know, playing them repeatedly on an old twin cassette deck by day as well as on a personal stereo when going to sleep at night for weeks and weeks at a time…Even without my own turntable, I began browsing the vinyl stands in a local independent record store that had been recently recommended to me. I was stunned at how much was available, boxes and boxes of second-hand titles in mint condition, the same price or often cheaper than the cassette albums I had been buying.

Comparing the detail of the artwork against small cassettes sleeves, large inserts with lyrics and my memories of those earlier experiences with the format, I thought it was time to take the plunge. Sepultura “Beneath The Remains” LP! Shortly thereafter, I was speaking to my cousin’s friend while waiting on the bus home from school. He told me he had two copies of Metallica “Garage Days Re-revisted” 12” so I promptly agreed to call round to buy that spare. As I gradually amassed more and more vinyl as my preferred medium for music my parents bought me a turntable for my bedroom…

How long have you been collecting?
Over twenty years now. My parents were genuinely surprised when I started buying LP’s just as they were making the transition to CD’s. They were even more surprised when I started ordering new albums in the post from overseas like my mother had done twenty years before me. Anyway, this pattern has continued throughout my twenties and thirties, as well as raiding local independent music shops, record fairs and mail order lists as often and as thoroughly as I could…

hawkwind

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
My focus has always been based on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal although I have continuously had an experimental streak too. Back in my teens, whether we were buying albums locally or by mail my friends and I agreed to purchase different albums so that we could compare and share by way of blank C90 audio cassettes! Those albums that thoroughly impressed would obviously need to be bought as a personal copy further down the line. But again, it did make the most of our limited budgets. In this way, I took a punt on strange gems such as Paul Chain “Alkahest” LP or Ved Buens Ende “Written In Waters” DLP. Back then, the majority of my burgeoning vinyl stack would have been built around Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Venom LPs. You know, the classics. But there are always gaps though from that ‘70s and ‘80s period. In the past two or three years, I have made more of an effort tofill them in and was very pleased to source some of the old Atomkraft, Deathwish, Legend (Jersey), Raven, Satan, Tank and Warfare LPs I needed. For older original pressings, my difficulty is that there are not enough independent music stores still standing or regular record fairs locally. Sometimes whenever people have given up on the format and sell their whole collection, you can strike gold. Quite sporadic really because I prefer not to deal with unknown overseas sellers to avoid disappointment either in an inaccurate assessment of the vinyl or poor packaging for an item that cannot be replaced…

Original versions aside, my remaining efforts would be divided between sourcing new pressings for my personal collection and my mailorder. There is a certain overlap between the two although I know that not everything I like will sell. In the past few months, this has leant more towards stranger Dark Prog, Psych, Kraut and Space Rock by way of the back catalogues of Black Widow, Kommun2, and Sulatron. Some labels you can just trust as purveyors of good taste!

How do you discover new music?
My patterns have not really changed. It still comes down to word of mouth, reading zines or online blogs and scouring mail order lists for appealing descriptions. Gigs and festivals too. Of course it is now possible to stream so much music online although I rarely allow myself more than one song as a teaser. For me, an album should be experienced from start to finish on my stereo!

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I prefer to buy albums in person at stores and fairs. But as previously explained, my collection would be infinitely diminished if it were not for mail order services and who can resist the excitement of 12” by 12” packages delivered to the front door?

paul chain collection

How is the Irish scene these days compared to the time you got into it?
In the early to mid ‘90s, I was too poor to travel to gigs in Belfast or Dublin. By the time I had my first job in ’97, there were no local gigs to speak of. The Troubles were raging on and foreign bands were too nervous to come here. But as I began to make contact with Irish underground bands by writing letters I discovered that there were smaller underground gigs scattered north and south if willing to travel. In April ’98, I helped Waylander run a bus from Portadown to an unlikely all-day event in the Folkhouse in Abbeyleix. Some seven or eight bands were on the bill and I still have the poster we used to encourage people to book a seat on it. Many of the friendships I made that day connected me to the heart of the underground and those faces remain active to the day as bands, promoters, distributors and labels.

From that point on, I travelled to as many gigs as I could and bought demos or albums available at them. The home-grown bands generally leant towards Death Metal although the lesser-known Graveyard Dirt, Thy Sinister Bloom, Arcane Sun and Scald forged a sound of their own. In the next couple of years, bands began to start travelling here again. Solstice,Waylander and Warning on the “New Dark Age” tour were all phenomenal. Cathedral hit the Rosetta Bar in Belfast a matter of weeks later and Anathema in the following spring. The same bills went to Dublin too although as a considerably larger city it would also have drawn larger bands such as Morbid Angel. Dublin always had more appetite for extreme sounds whereas Belfast has to this day more of a preference for Hard Rock.

There was a great network of records fairs around the country during that same period as well as a few independent shops in every town. Between Bangor and Belfast, I had more than enough opportunity to blow all of my pennies on old and new records. It is perhaps what I miss most from that era because of the range of titles concentrated in single shops or halls and at very affordable prices too. There was so much that was new or unfamiliar and it paid to take risks on covers that promised good music. By the guts of ten years ago, much of that infrastructure began to crumble and it was obvious how much less vinyl was circulating here hence the need to begin turning to overseas sellers for older titles. That lack of availability had a detrimental impact on the number of them I continued buying so the balance gradually shifted to newer albums or re-releases of classics almost all of which would have been sourced in England, France, Italy and Germany.

Any special relationship to Irish heroes Thin Lizzy? (one of my fave bands!)
Hmm, they were not one of my big bands when growing up and I still feel that many of my international friends love them more than me! Perhaps if I were ten years older it would have been different. “Vagabonds of the Western World” remains my favourite album and I would have loved seeing them on tour way back then. It’s always a blast when Slough Feg or Argus covers the band on their Irish tours too. From a local perspective, the Horslips possibly made as much of an impression on me because I loved that blend of traditional music and mythology with Hard Rock! Anybody out there still listen to “The Tain” or “The Book of Invasions” LPs?

paul chain test pressing

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Looking back at my teens, I was knocked for six by a song called “Master of the Universe” by Hawkwind. I knew nothing of the band and had heard none of my friends enthusing about the music. So began my personal journey to hear more. Whilst their ’70s albums particularly struck a chord, it was the “Space Ritual” Volumes 1 & 2 that remain firm favourites. I bought the second vinyl first in a very small local record store in Bangor. I loved the colours, the artwork and the way the gatefold spine was at the bottom rather than the side. More importantly, the music was so damned raw, heavy and spaced out. It was years later before I found the companion DLP and cannot remember exactly where I purchased it. But as it was already part of my collection when I moved to my first house in Belfast, it must have been from a record fair or independent store thereabouts. Again, killer artwork, which was made all the more special by some very strange ink drawings on the inner sleeve. They must have been tripped out visions of the music and I have spent as much time lying on the carpet staring at them as I have the actual gatefold sleeve. Hawkwind’s performance here possibly edges it for me.

It is almost impossible to highlight the most special Paul Chain vinyl in my collection. My love affair began with the “Alkahest” LP, which I purchased directly from Rise Above when they ran a genuinely eclectic and affordable mail order. Thanks to a tip from a friend, I bought the “Ash” MLP (yellow logo with black vinyl) from I cannot remember where. By then, my thirst for Paul Chain was insatiable. I began blindly hunting for any other titles because without making a purchase I could not hear the songs. Do bear in mind the LPs were rare and the CDs often rarer still. Through Black Widow, I sourced quite a few more originals such as “Detaching From Satan” MLP and “Highway to Hell” Picture Disc. When I bought in bulk from Quasar Records at the time their shop was closing, they included a surprise signed test pressing of “Whited Sepulchres” LP! The remaining albums and singles were generally sourced from private collectors in Italy. The “Opera Decima” 3LP boxed set and “Violet Art of Improvisation” DLP in particular took quite some time. However, the “King of the Dream” 12″ with Sabotage on the reverse possibly provided the most elation because it was the very last one I needed and the building atmosphere on that song, the very first time I dropped the needle, reaffirmed the genius of Paul Chain and his cohorts throughout the collective’s many guises. Sanctis Ghoram RIP! As an aside, I am genuinely pleased that so much of the back catalogue has since been rereleased at affordable prices so anybody with a passing interest can now listen to Paul Chain. It is perhaps a pity though that so many came at once after being long out of print because it takes time to absorb and the demand seems to have been somewhat overestimated by labels. Very much a sign of the times. Not sure I understand the merit of expanding “Alkahest” to a DLP to mirror the CD edition with almost a fourth side of silence for the short hidden track. Or the artificial construct of “Vivid Eyes in the Dark” LP from the “Relative Tapes” boxed set. If anything, surely it should have been part of a bigger vinyl boxed set than the way it was presented without any explanation? But with Paul Chain no longer involved, of his volition, it should not be that surprising these imperfections have crept into being.

Lastly, it has to be Revelation “Salvation’s Answer” LP. As teenagers, a friend and I took a punt on a couple of albums from our local record store. He picked this one from the racks, I opted for Stillborn “Permanent Solution” LP and we made cassette copies of the other vinyl the following weekend. While I was enjoying mine I instantly preferred his find. The music was young and raw. Slow and heavy then prone to unexpected bursts of speed. But it was underpinned with melancholy. Honest and very human. In the midst of Death and Black melee of the early to mid ’90s, it was a breath of fresh air. Doom proclaimed the large round sticker! Doom that recalled the roots Heavy Metal and Thrash. Combined with that alternative pointy logo on the insert, photos of a very young band and the thoughtful lyrics it made a deep impression. Over the years, I tried to buy or trade it from my friend. He never would let it go. In fact, I’m not sure he actually ever said no. My request simply met with silence. Later still, if memory serves me correctly, Oli Richling, the Doom Dealer, bought old warehouse stock from Rise Above included this long sought for record. As I was flying to Doom Shall Rise that spring of 2004 and he agreed to keep a copy aside for me to purchase at the festival. Needless up say, I was very happy walking down the Chapel steps with it in my hands again. A formative album from my youth and a band whose sixth record (only their second on vinyl) I would release the following decade.

revelation LP

You have been running Pariah Child for a long time. Please tell us about your label!
Label? I still find it strange that some think of Pariah Child in that way. First and foremost, it remains a zine. It evolved from my previous publication, Abandon All Hope. My motivation had been to hold the breach where printed zines proudly stoodin the ‘90s. I missed Reflections of Doom, Isten, Fitted Kitchens of the Living Damned and Steel Conjuring. I missed the detail, the wit and the enthusiasm. With the turning tide of the internet, communication became much easier although nothing, to this day, really replaces holding a tome in your hands. My focus was my tastes and space was not for sale as many of those who asked at the time will recall. I printed two issues under both names and circulated 1,500 copies worldwide. But the weight of handling everything alone as Pariah Child took its toll in the wake of real life. In 2009, after a silence of three years, I penned another issue, which I considered to be my fourth, after an earlier version was partially shelved and printed elsewhere. Two or three attempts to have it designed by those more able than me came to nothing so it gathered dust. A lot of dust. Then eventually a newly-forged alliance with Hell Bent For Metal under the banner of Masters of the Pit resurrected that old ghost two years ago. Spurred on, we joined forces again and we printed a brand new issue in October. If you still crave real zines, it’s 80 A5 pages crammed with lively features on varied bands such as Queen Elephantine, The Hounds of Hasselvander, Rise And Shine, The Black, The Story of Death SS Part Two and Brad Moore (Argus artist) amongst much more.

In a bid to spread the zine further and to champion the bands included in its pages, a small mailorder evolved organically around it. Very limited copies of demos, singles and albums.Ten to twelve years ago, long before YouTube or Bandcamp was taken for granted, with all manner of music only a click away, I found the underground community very willing to try what was presented almost regardless of the format or style if quality was guaranteed.Then there have been a few bands for whom I have gone that extra mile again. Eight Hands For Kali, was the first. They gave me permission to press copies of their independent EPs, “Mount Meru” and “Himalayan Necromantia” in 2005 and 2007 respectively. I manufactured 200 copies each, both of which were well received, sold quickly and requests still come for them. In 2009, when I began writing the zine again, I finally took the plunge to press vinyl when Gnod welcomed the opportunity to co-release their debut album with Pariah Child. Since then, I have pressed another five vinyl, some as co-releases, some alone, with Oresund Space Collective, Heathendom, Argus, Revelation and Second Grave. My focus has always been living bands regardless of their style. Even on paper, they are quite an eclectic horde. Earlier in the winter, the Yoshiwara Collective and Pariah Child also sent the latest album by Ogre into production as a special LP and 7” single set. This is my boldest project to date and genuinely hope it will help earn the band the higher profile they deserve when released early February 2015. While I have always favoured print media and analogue pressings, earlier this year Pariah Child took its first step into the present! I have begun to compile an archive of my written material and releases via http://www.pariahchild.co.uk so those that missed the original issues can dip into what I hope remain intriguing historical testimonies. This is really only a hint of what will come as the vaults are deep and will be gradually supplemented with new features. Of course there are some choice items for sale too although I must stress that they are not always brand new. This is not motivated as a commercial venture and I have no interest in distributing all and sundry. Instead there is a small tried and tested selection that often goes back decades because those albums made an impression and remain vital. It may often follow that I have also already written about them or will do in future. So when you think of Pariah Child, please remember it is not just another label flooding the market with an endless string of re-releases or young hip hopefuls. It is a much more personal affair that moves at my own slow pace. There has been a small yet loyal following over the years, forever cyclic, as some fall off the edge of the world only to be replaced by new faces. But each and every letter and purchase has been greatly appreciated.

And finally, what do you see in the future of record collecting?
Given the vast number of new titles and rereleases currently being pressed, month on month, it will be very interesting to see what happens when demand takes a dip. And it will. There is no hope in trying to keep pace with the machine. I have already seen quite a few people building up collections only to give up and flog the lot for whatever reasons they might have! It will do no harm to see the death of a raft of greedy labels too. We all need a little time to step back and review what music really matters. Record collecting should be about cherishing the music you love. A collection should be living and breathing. Cut the dead wood. There is no point hogging unnecessary titles. As people move on or ultimately die, plenty of titles, good and bad, should come back into circulation for more reasonable prices as tastes of the time shift. But classics will remain classics, and sure, pockets of avid collectors will remain everywhere. What intrigues me is which albums will be considered classics in ten or twenty years from now.

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Week 5, 2014: Robban, Sweden

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
It was the skateboard wave that came in the 90s. I was an ardent skateboarder and with that music and beer came along hand in hand. And in this case it was the skate punk and hardcore music (before the hiphop culture came in and almost poisoned the whole skate culture). After a few years of intensive listening to punk music I was swept up by the whole punk marsh, and my aunts husband Johnny supplied me with lots of records. And it was there that my collecting of records started and it still goes on.

Do you remember your first purchases?
Satanic Surfers – Skate To Hell, Accion Mutante – Fear,
Abstain/Nasum – Religion Is War/The Black Illusions 7” split,
Puke – Ställd Mot En Vägg 2x 7” and a few mixed tapes from Johnny.
A weird mixture but I guess it was thanks to that it gave me a wider perspective at the punk scene.

ImageHow long have you been collecting?
I started sometime between  97’ – 98’

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
Swedish 77’- 82’ punk, Crust, Käng, Anarcho punk and some HC and Oi/Street punk in small doses.

How do you discover new music?
From the web, gig/festivals, friends and other collectors.

Do you play any instruments yourself?
No.

ImageWhere do you prefer to buy your records?
Anywhere I can find them, everywhere from record exhibitions to small obscure record shops.

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Accion Mutante – Fear 7”
It was a gift from Johnny and I fucking loved it! Also I became friend with the singer Rossi AM, he helped me to complete the AM collection and it’s one of my first precious.

Paragraf 119 – Musik Til Ulempe 7”
I think that I got this one in Denmark when Ungdomens Hus still existed and Paragraf 119 played that night in 2001 (I think). Immediately I became addicted to the raw sound, their energy and uncompromising music. Totally one of the most important and best records I have.

Liket Lever – Levande Begravd / Hjärtats Slag 7″
I got an opportunity to get my hands on this incredible record of its time, quite hard to get so I’m very pleased with it.
It’s hard to just drop 3 records but these are the ones that crossed my mind.

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How big is your record collection ??
Time of writing its up in 666 records (CD/Vinyl) and it still grows…

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
It more or less looks like shit! There are lots of people sitting on good records and take a shit load of overcharge form them! And then we have shitify (spotify) as “the young” are up to. There are not so many who care about collecting / buying music for real, which is a damn shame. Hope it turns around. Stay punk as fuck and fuck the system! Cheers /Robban

Week 3, 2014: Åke, Sweden

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What made you start collecting records? And do you remember your first purchase ?

I’ve always been a music freak. When i was a kid i started drumming on chairs with my home made drumsticks. And i can’t say why, no one else in my family was, or is, into music like i am.
My first albums was “The Spotnicks in Stockholm” and “Cliff” the first album from Mr. Richard. “Surfin’ USA” was the first single.
So that’s my roots.

In the late 70’s when i toured a lot in Denmark, me and singer Roger Holegård of Wasa Express discovered that Denmark was a record collectors heaven. They were a couple of years behind Sweden considering rarities and such. And did we grab the chance to hoard ?! Oh yes, In every little town the first question was “Is there anyone selling Second hand records in this town ?” And there usually was. In Copenhagen we even made one shop open up just for us on a Sunday. We must have bought hundreds of records in that shop. Stuff like the uncensored “Kick out the jams” by MC 5.

One day Roger had to go to the local hospital in Copenhagen and I didn’t tag along. When he came back, of course he had passed a second hand store, and pulled out his treasures, “Pretty Things”, “Downliners Sect” and so on. I was a bit miffed at that one..

What sort of music do you mainly focus on?
60’s Garage, pop and psychedelia will always come first. The Seeds, The Electric Prunes, The Trashmen, The Rivieras, Dave Clark Five, i like that stuff ! But a Blue Note or CTI album are also nice. And when that first ELP album came it was a revelation. And “Fragile” by Yes. Very nice.

How do you discover new music?
I read lots of music papers, Mojo, Uncut, Record Collector, Shindig, Classic Rock. And sometimes you hear something like you’ve never heard before. It’s not often these days but i’d say Behemoth has a style of it’s own. I’m also a big fan of Infernos drumming.
Discoveries in the past when you got that YES that’s something new i’ve never heard before would be : Ramones, Pantera, Mahavishnu Orchestra,Beatles, Grandmaster Flash, Black Sabbath,

You’re also a highly acclaimed drummer in Sweden, member of fusion combo WASA EXPRESS. Please tell us the story !
Yeah, drumming my life away ! that’s me. I’m very lucky to be able not only to survive for 40 years as a musician, but also to be able to play what i like to play. A big advantage there is that i like MUSIC, And if it’s Pop, Rockabilly, Fusion, Jazz, rock, prog or whatever.
Doesn’t matter as long as it’s well done. And you can also see that in my record collection that has everything from schlager to freeform jazz in it.

To some, Eddie Meduza to Bernt Rosengren might seem like a big step, I know. And I’ve played with both and enjoyed it.

You also performed with a wide range of other Swedish musicians during the years. How do you think the scene have changed from the 70’s to today ?
There was a LOT more opportunities to play during the 70’s. There was “Musikforum”, Clubs, Folkets Park and a band like Wasa Express could actually tour for weeks , gigging every day. Or is that just a wishful memory ? Sitting on a pink cloud. I don’t know for sure. When I think back there wasn’t that many places to play in Stockholm even then.
Being a musician is always a struggle and it has more to do if you’re lucky at the moment being on a successful tour or in a band that’s hot at the moment.

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Any special crazy memories from the performance days ?
Well, playing in a band with Eddie Meduza or Thorsten Flinck will always give stories. Some not fit to print, but on the clean side: Playing Roskilde Festival, Sweden Rock Festival, gigging in Beijing, visiting Electric Ladyland studios , All the tours we did in Denmark and Germany with Wasa Express, Being number one in the charts with “Ooa Hela Natten”, Doing a drumsolo at Ullevi in front of 30.000 people.

Those are nice memories, but not that crazy. I’ve never been into crazy stuff. For me it’s the music that matters. I don’t even drink alcohol. never done drugs and stick to one woman at a time. Sorry.

How is the market for records in Stockholm  these days ? Many record stores left ?
I guess you know the answer to that one. So we’d better support “Pet Sounds” “Runtrunt” and the rest that’s left. There’s quite a few second hand stores though. Some almost as old as the street they’re at. Let’s hope they survive even longer.

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Where do you prefer to buy your records?
Since I have ALMOST all the records I need. And more. (would be nice with that Rivieras album “Campus Party” or an original “The Deep” though..) Alright, I confess ! I can’t stop , even though i always say ” Oh , i was a fanatical record collector once, but I’m not THAT fanatical anymore” . The bug just won’t go away 🙂

Sometimes i roam the streets of Stockholm on my way to “Skivbörsen” , but you can’t find those elusive rarities in a shop anymore.
It has to be Ebay (my last purchase there was an Antoine album I’d been looking for a long time)

Name three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
That would be albums from the 60’s ,that also means i bought them when they were released.
“Pet Sounds” is the greatest pop album that has ever been recorded. Bought it on vacation with my grandma in Gotland in 1966.Now it’s been said, let’s argue !
I also have a soft spot for “Spirit of 67” from Paul Revere & The Raiders and “Psychedelic Psoul” from The Freak Scene.

As a kid i was living way out in the sticks and my records came by post from “Svenska Skivklubben” When i got a note that they had arrived at the post office it was grab my bike and off i’d go to pick ’em up. I guess it took me about an hour of bicycling to get there and back every time. But to unpack that package was bliss ! See, i had the collector bug already.

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And finally: What do you see in the future of record collecting?
It will probably be as it’s always been. The records nobody wants today is the collectors gold tomorrow.

 

Week 1, 2014: Klaus, Germany

ImageWhat made you start collecting records?
If I remember correctly, everything began with The Beatles. It was in my childhood, and this was the first band I was passionate about. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy any records, because my parents didn’t see any sense in buying a record player for me. But I did own a cassette recorder, so that I could capture the Beatles records of my friends on tape. And I started to buy Beatles tapes in record stores, because back in the 1970s, you could buy cassettes in every record store. That was pretty nice.

Another band that I consider immensely significant was KISS. I think it was probably in 1976,
when I discovered them. A friend of mine was already a fan, and so I had the chance to listen to
KISS records. Needless to say that I also bought books and commercial teen magazines such as ‘Bravo’ and ‘Popcorn’, because there were a lot of articles about above-mentioned bands.

But what really turned me into collecting records was when I joined the Hardcore Punk scene in ca. 1982. The input grade and intensity got so high, there wasn’t any holding back. And finally and finite I had a record player.

Do you remember your first purchase?
I don’t know exactly, but that must have been the second Beatles album, ‘With The Beatles’. It could also be possible that it was a compilation of Tony Sheridan & The Beatles, because at that time I was in love with songs like ‘Ain’t She Sweet’, ‘My Bonnie’, ‘Ya Ya’, and so on.

How long have you been collecting?
Since 1982/1983. Then it starts to become more serious, because I discovered the multifaceted world of Punk Rock.

ImageWhat sort of music do you mainly focus on?
I am currently in the process of repurchasing some Hardcore Punk classics from the 1980s. Unfortunately, I’ve sold a lot of that stuff in the 1990s, because I urgently needed money. Even now I still regret that I’ve done that. Anyway, that’s currently my main focus. Quite apart from Punk Rock, I love a wide range of musical styles ranging from vintage Heavy Rock, Delta Blues and Psychedelic to 1960’s soul, classic Doom Metal, Detroit Rock ‘n’ Roll, heavy 1970s Funk, Jazz and more. Well, there is always something to discover, so there aren’t a lot of tiresome moments in my world of music.

Germany had a very nice underground scene in the 70’s. Do you listen to much of the old krautrock music?
Sometimes more, sometimes less. I prefer the heavier guitar-based bands such as Tiger B. Smith, Night Sun, Silberbart, Lucifer’s Friend, Mammut, Twenty Sixty Six and Then, Dschinn, Prom, just to name a few. Apart of the hard rock bands, I like German Oak, early Can, Neu!, Cluster and early Tangerine Dream. Especially ‘Zeit’ is an album that never ceases to amaze me. But there are also a lot of bands that I dislike. Most prog bands can kiss my ass, and there’s no room left for endless self-indulgent hippie jams. Or folky stuff like Witthüser & Westrupp.

How do you discover new music?
Due to my work for Cosmic Lava and Vincebus Eruptum, I receive some new stuff. Then there are friends, who recommend me bands which I don’t know. And sometimes the internet can be helpful, but most important is the word-of-mouth propaganda. Commercial magazines have never really interested me.

Please let us know more about the German situation. Many people who collect? Many record stores left?
Yes, there are a lot of record collectors around. Ca. 15 years ago, I worked in a Second-Hand record store, where I met a lot of collectors. There are record fairs and a lot of good stores. However, the situation in my hometown Oberhausen is pretty awful – in absolute contrast to the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Especially in the 1980s it was a good ground for my obsession with music. There were two great record stores, where I’ve bought a lot of Punk and Metal LP’s. Then there was a well-assorted Second-Hand shop in another part of Oberhausen. That was my most valuable source for Mothers/Frank Zappa and Black Sabbath (only the original
line-up, of course).

You run a website, Cosmiclava.com, please let us know more about it!
I’ve started the webzine in 1999, because of my affection for traditional Doom Metal and 70’s Heavy Rock. Back then, I was greatly influenced by both GL-Productions and Roadburn, but especially Gabriel Liliehook’s site (GL-Productions) has been a huge inspiration to me. It reminded me to the old fanzines, which I’ve bought in the 1980’s  – only with the difference that it wasn’t printed. I really liked that D.I.Y.-idea, especially because everyone in the world with an internet access could read it. That was the main reason why I have chosen English instead of German. Over the years Cosmic Lava has opened itself up to a wider range of styles, because it can be very boring to write only about Doom and Heavy Rock. This is particularly true when the bands become more boring. I experienced my first success, when Brian ‘Butch’ Balich (Argus, ex-Penance) sent me a copy of Penance’s ‘Proving Ground’ album in late 1999. I was happy like a kid, because Penance was (and still is) one of my favourite Doom bands.

After several years I received technical support from a buddy named Matthias, who knows a lot more about programming than I do. From that moment he also did the design and everything else, while I was still responsible for the content. However, there were always friends who gave me a little support in terms of writing reviews and/or interviews. Otherwise, I would still lie under a huge pile of promo CD’s and records.

To me, it was always important to maintain independence, honesty as well as integrity. I never wanted to be part of a scene, although it is not possible to avoid that. It would be wrong to lose critical faculties, because then one should rather think about quitting. There are enough websites around, where everything is ‘awesome’, ‘crushing’ and ‘highly recommended’. How dull is that! I never wanted to take the piss out of the reader, but if you offer each mediocre band as a new highlight, then you start to mess around.

ImageDo you ever run out of ideas to use in your reviews after so many reviews done during the years?
You bet! After a while it’s not more than a monotonous, repetitive work. Of course, you could write endless reviews where you describe each song and each note, but that was not what I wanted. To me, a review has to get to the point and it should be honest. It should make the reader curious instead of anticipating everything. During the first ten years, I really had a lot of fun and I just enjoyed writing reviews and interview questions. But the last years it was more like a plague. Quite frankly, how many different words can one use to describe the fiftieth retro blues rock band? I was terribly bored by repeating myself over and over again. Nowadays, Cosmic Lava is on indefinite hiatus, and I can easily live with that. But I’m still active, because I haven’t shot all my powder. Since a few years, I write for the Italian magazine Vincebus Eruptum. That makes very much fun to me, especially since Davide (the editor) is a very nice guy. And I have some other plans……maybe I will continue with Cosmic Lava or something else…. we will see.

Germany seems to be a very nice country for psychedelic & stoner rock bands, how does the scene look?
Oh, a lot has happened over the last 20 years. More festivals, more bands, more record labels, more tours. As far as I can tell, some of the involved people really put their heart into their efforts, because they love the music and not the money. It’s definitely a heavenly situation for newcomers and veterans. The festivals are always peaceful and non-violent, but the same is valid for the gigs.

Where do you prefer to buy your records?
I buy records and CD’s almost everywhere. In the 1990’s, I visited record fairs regularly, but that’s over now. I really like Second-Hand stores, and fortunately there are some good ones in my area, the Ruhrgebiet. Furthermore I use the internet, whether it’s a mailorder or a private auction. And it’s always nice to purchase some stuff at gigs.

ImageName three records that are special to you, and tell us the story of how you got hold of them.
Ouch, that’s a tough question. But OK, here we go:
AMEBIX – Arise!: One of the most unique apocalyptic Punk bands of the 1980’s. ‘Arise!’ was the album that turned me into a total AMEBIX fan. I’ve bought it in 1985 in Duisburg in a record store, which no longer exists today. After listening to ‘Arise!’ continuously, I borrowed the ‘Winter’ 7″ from a good friend in order then to paint the entire back cover of that 7″ on my room wall. It was gigantic and I still have a few photos of my painting. After 30 years, AMEBIX is still one of my favorite Punk bands. Only their reunion album ‘Sonic Mass’ was utter trash, but that is another story.

THE STOOGES – Fun House: ‘Fun House’ is representative for all the great bands/musicians from Detroit: MC5, The Rationals, Guardian Angel, New Order, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, Destroy All Monsters, Dark Carnival, Ramrods, early Bob Seger, early Mitch Ryder, Frijid Pink, The Third Power, The Frost, Alice Cooper Band. ‘Fun House’ is like sonic dynamite that will never grow old. I also dig the debut and ‘Raw Power’ as well, so that it was hard for me to pick one out. But I selected ‘Fun House’, because it’s their most varied album. I’ve bought it in the very late 1980’s, but I forgot where I found the platter. It was a VERY excessive period in my life.

CAPTAIN BEYOND – s/t: At first I wanted to select one of the first eight Black Sabbath albums, but then I have decided to take CAPTAIN BEYOND’s debut record. For me this is a perfect album and truly a masterpiece. This is so to say a flawless work of art. Even the cover artwork as well as the band photo on the backcover are mind blowing. I found a copy of this album in ca. 1992 in the W.O.M.-store in Essen. It was the Japanese CD edition, which was pretty expensive (ca. 45,- DM). But it was worth it!

And finally: what do you see in the future of record collecting?
It looks good, because vinyl is needed again. Basically it was never gone. There will always be people who prefer something physical (no matter if it’s vinyl or a CD) instead of iPod’s and shit like that. An album is much more than only an individual sequence of songs. That’s my unimportant opinion, at least. But what bothers me is the price increase. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all records, but a lot of them are just too expensive in our time. Music should be for everyone, whether people are poor or rich. And today, a lot of people are poor, and I’m not talking about Africa or certain areas in South America. It would be a disgrace for music, if only a small elite can allow themselves to collect records.

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!