What 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.
What 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.
Do 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.
Name 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.