HAAVARD HOLM – A Dive…
Previous this year we did a few "record collection interviews" with selected people from the international metal press. The interview series went very well and we decided to continue with this, though with another group of people. This time; we are digging in the collections to the people behind the record labels. We are starting with the founder of the Norwegian record label Aftermath Music; Haavard Holm.
Are you a vinyl freak or more of the modern CD type?
Oh, by no doubts a vinyl freak! I grew up with vinyl, and for me it was a bit weird when the CDs started taking over in the early 90s, as it hadn’t been too many years where I had collected myself, so it was more of a frustration back in the days when the CDs were introduced as I was not comfortable with the new format.
I threw in the towel in 1993 though, and got myself a CD player at last…
Do you have a record player? If so – do you use it?
Actually, at the moment I don’t! I used to have this very old player, real 70s style, and in the end it just had to go. I just couldn’t let my mind play with the fact that it probably would mess up my records if I kept on using it, so… And after that its been a lonely time for my records unfortunately. I’ve been planning on getting a new one, and even though I’m neither a hi-fi freak or addicted to listening to my old records, its a special feeling that I miss from time to time. So one day…
Do you remember the very first record you bought?
Oh yeah, that was at Rockin’ here in Trondheim, probably in 1988. Atleast I remember it was Judas Priest "Ram it Down" record, and then I followed up just after with Helloween’s "Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II".
When I finally gave in and got a CD player, the first CD was Entombed’s "Wolverine Blues".
Not too bad those first selections though, still listen to them today!
What is the rarest album you’ve got?
That’s kind of difficult to answer, as these days its all chaos what is the "rarest" albums around. But the Iron Maiden "Soundhouse Tapes" 7" is kind of rare, as well as a few Devil Doll vinyls. Then its naturally also some ancient Black Metal gems in there, but those are always overrated when people speak about how rare they are, so…
Does Haavard’s record collection consist of metal only? What else can one find that Haavard highly appreciates?
Far from, its quite varied, even though in the beginning it was mostly about metal. But eventually in the early 90s I started moving slowly towards more punk, like with the traditional Sex Pistols, Exploited and Toy Dolls, before a bit later again went more in a progressive field, with Rush, Genesis and what not. As well I have a little weird fascination for soundtracks, for a while I picked up some stuff I don’t even understand why I got, but… Thats what record collecting was about at that time, just trying and failing to discover new bands. No spotify or youtube then!
How do you preserve your collection? Is it categorized or is it just helter skelter?
Ah, now its divided into three parts actually, one of the old vinyls that have their own shelf – uncategorized and non-alphabetically, to always ensure I get surprised when I go through it myself (!?). Then a CD system which is divided between either those I listen to the most, and those that are more just in the alphabetically correct collection and won’t be played that much, unless in special needs.
You told me in advance of this interview that Iron Maiden, Rush and Devil Doll is your favorite bands and that Iron Maiden "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and the Rush albums "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres" is your favorite albums. Let’s talk a bit about these albums first. When did this love relationship between you and these three albums revealed itself? Was it love at first listen or did it take some time before you found the tone?
With Iron Maiden it was a love at first sight when I got the "Seventh Son" album, as I had HIGH expectations after the almost equally amazing "Somewhere In Time" a year or so before. One of those albums that you just know will be right up there instantly, and where the expectations doesn’t go completely overboard, like f.ex when Carcass tried to follow up "Necroticism" with "Heartwork". Major bummer at the time, even if that album is also a great one.
With Rush it was a bit different, and also its a bit more complex music to get used to. But I was 16-17 I guess, and I was a bit tired of all the other stuff that came out, and needed something fresh. So I found a few records in the 2ndhand shop, and I just looked at them and thought to myself that these I would love, I juad had to. And those two were actually "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres". Total classics!
What is it with these albums that make them so good?
I have a theory that I am a sucker for the longer and epic compositions, which explains it to a certain point, also considering other top 10 records in my collections like Bathory’s "Hammerheart" and "Twilight of the Gods". Ofcourse music comes first, but maybe at those times when I got into those albums when I was fairly young, then it was about it being epic and a bit mighty.
What was your relationship to Iron Maiden before you heard "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"?
I was actually only aquainted with "Somewhere In Time" before, which I loved, so it was a natural follow-up for me, and I am kind of glad that I went that way, instead of moving backwards to "Powerslave" first. No offence "Powerslave", but that one’s not even in the top 5 of Maidens discography I believe…
What about Rush before you heard "A Farewell to Kings" and "Hemispheres"?
Those were the first ones I tried, and they totally nailed it. Afterwards I ofcourse also have a close affection to the "2112" and "Moving Pictures" albums, but hey, its Rush, a band that did most right until they did the "Signals" album in the 80s.
You mentioned three favorite bands, and three quite different bands it is; Iron Maiden, Rush and Devil Doll. Why these three bands?
Maybe because its three bands representing (majorly) three different decades where my favourite albums were in ? Its always very very difficult to choose the favourite bands, as its a thin line between what is right in just that moment. But they’re all bands that have stuck with me over the years, and I still enjoy listening to them.
I could have mentioned Metallica, Bathory, Carcass and perhaps a few others too, but somehow it doesn’t feel right just now. But who knows, maybe one day they’ll be back in the top three too 🙂
You are home after a long day’s work and want to relax with some music. What do you, most likely, want to listen to?
Probably I’d go for some classic metal album or some calmer rock/prog album. Just now my first thoughts went towards Ozzy’s "No More Tears" and Fair to Midland’s "Arrows & Anchors"…
Where do you stand when it comes to original albums? Do you want a first press or are you pleased with re-mastered re-publications?
As a general rule, ofcourse the first press of a vinyl is way more interesting than a re-issue, as also its a special charm when a album still sounds the way it was intended back in the days. With more modern releases its not too important for me I guess, usually I however feel its a bit overdone all this talk about re-masters and such.
There are split opinions about live albums. Where do you stand and what’s your ultimate live album? What’s so special about this record?
I kind of like live-albums, that is if you look at it from the non-extreme metal point of view, as in that genre its a lot of unnescessary stuff coming out, that really doesn’t manage to capture the atmosphere in the right way.
But there are many classic live-albums too, and I don’t mind overlooking the fact that they’re all heavily touched up before they were released. You never get one album from me, so I’ll say that Iron Maiden’s "Live After Death", Ozzy’s "Live and Loud" and Slayers "Decade of Aggression" are probably the most memorable ones. I guess the trick on all of these is that they have a atmosphere that manage to capture the music differently than on the studio recordings, and make the songs maybe a bit more dynamic and vital. I love them all!
The vinyl tax collector is standing at your doorstep and demanding one – 1 – vinyl record as an instant charge. What record do you choose to give away?
Now you just made me go and have a look in the shelves, if I could find something really embarrasing, haha. So after a closer inspection, I think I’d have to settle with a copy of Metallica’s "And Justice For All". By all means, its one of my favourite albums, but it seems I have been a little too close to this album, and have three copies of the exact same pressing. No need for that, so there you go!