STEFAN FRANKE – A Dive…
This is our third dive into the record collection of selected people working within the record labels. We had the pleasure of diving with Haavard Holm from Aftermath Music and Pip Soret from Relapse Records in Europe in the two first editions in this second series of our record collection interviews, and now the time has come to Stefan Franke from Century Media Records Germany.
Are you a vinyl freak or more of the modern CD type?
I’d say I’m more like a hybrid listener. I really enjoy the practical sides of a CD and often CDs are cheaper to get, too and I’m most of all a physical listener, I just need some kind of original – it can even be a tape, to be honest. However, the "true" music format is of course vinyl from the bigger cover to the more pure, analogue sound. Simply putting on an LP to me is almost like a ritual and feels better than just slipping in a CD.
Do you have a record player? If so – do you use it?
Of course I have one! Nothing fancy but it works just fine and yeah, I use it for sure. There’s people out there who buy vinyl just to have it, impress their friends and never even unpack or play it – that sucks big time as vinyl is meant to be played in the first place! If you only have vinyl for showing off purposes than you’re nothing but a poser!
Do you remember the very first record you bought?
To be honest, I do not remember which one I bought first. However, the first LPs I owned I remember all too well: A compilation I got when I was 4 years old from my grandma called "So klingt’s in Brakel" (1981) containing various brass bands from Westfalia (a part of Western Germany) and Cash’s "Live At San Quentin" since my parents got it double!
What is the rarest album you’ve got?
Probably that previously mentioned brass band compilation, did not find anything about it on the internet. I also got this Repulsion/Carcass bootleg from ’01 which was only printed 100 times, should be quite rare, too. Also, the one and only album by Island death metal band Sororicide might be worth mentioning – was sold for 2000$ once, which is sick! For half of this I’ll be selling this already straight away, haha! So get in touch rich kids!
Does Stefan’s record collection consist of metal only? What else can one find that Stefan highly appreciates?
Nah, it’s not only metal, but easily 90-95%. I also have some old punk/hardcore records and my beloved collection of the 70’s albums done by Johnny Cash.
How do you preserve your collection? Is it categorized or is it just helter skelter?
Alphabetically sorted and loosely divided into genres as I don’t like having a 80’s heavy metal album standing next to my dear Cash LPs or some more recent stuff. I even have split my death metal stuff into brutal death and traditional death metal to keep Disgorge away from Dismember, welcome to Nerdistan, hehe.
You told me in advance of this interview that Slayer is your favorite band. Do you remember the first time you heard Slayer? Was it "love" at first listen or did it take some time before you realized that Slayer meant something special for you?
Definitely love at first listen! The first time I heard them was when I was twelve (so that was 1990) and the music video for "Seasons In The Abyss" played on the tube. The heaviest stuff I was listening to at that time was Metallica, so I consider this song a perfect bridge from the latter to something more extreme. Slayer inspired me to simply start looking for things that are faster and more extreme. My magic Slayer-moment though was in the same year when I bought "Reign In Blood" after spending weeks with "Seasons…": Back then my father’s computer was standing in my room next to my stereo and I will never forget his face when "Angel Of Death" started and holding the booklet in my hand I was screaming from the top of my lungs "Ausssschwiiiitz". He looked so shocked, haha. My pubescent mind loved the fact that I had found music that pisses people off. A son was lost to metal that day…
What is it with Slayer that makes them your favorite band?
Their heaviness and consistency! I think Metallica might be the band that in an emotional way means the most to me and created my absolute favorite albums but there was "St. Anger", a half assed thrash album with "Death Magnetic" and now "Lulu" whereas Slayer’s weaker albums are still "ok" (I actually only don’t like "God Hates Us All"). Slayer never tested my level of tolerance so hard (though "Diabolus…" was tough to digest, too) and never appeared to me as a joke, they’ve never let me down as a fan so to speak. I only would have liked a better production on the last album (the guitars definitely lack power, don’t you got a "Reign In Blood" preset, Mr Rubin?). I think generally Slayer is timeless and even in 25 years their classic albums will still rip you a new one. Aggression, speed, great riffs, brutal lyrics and killer vocals, it’s all there. So if you ask me what’s the definition of metal: I will scream "SLAYER!!!!"
Everybody likes Slayer. It’s not possible to not like them and a lot of Slayer fans have "Reign in Blood" as their favorite Slayer album. What about you; "Reign in Blood", "South of Heaven" or any of the newer albums? And why?
In the Slayer discography there are three personal favorites of mine and depending on my mood these are the following: "Hell Awaits" since it has such an evil, ominous atmosphere, "Reign In Blood" since it is so insanely brutal and intense and "Seasons…" as it is their most varied album with the best vocals Tom ever delivered in terms of scope.
Slayer with or without Dave Lombardo?
With AND without since "Divine Intervention" is also a totally awesome album which I play quite often nowadays. It’s a really sinister, murderous record that is terribly underrated and Bostaph performs quite well on it.
When did you first see Slayer live and how many times have you seen them on stage?
Have seen them 4 or 5 times, not thaaaat often but apart from the show on the tour with The Haunted in 2010 I’ve never seen a bad one. First time must have been 1998 during Diabolus On Tour in Düsseldorf, sorry, but I’m not old enough to be able to brag about seeing them in ’84 though I would have LOVED to!
Your favorite albums are Metallica "Ride the Lightning" (1984) and "Master of Puppets (1986). Why are these albums your favorite?
Because they are the best metal albums ever recorded and among the first metal albums I ever heard when I was a teenager, so I connect a lot of memories to them. Got "Ride…" copied on tape from a friend back then and I literally listened to it nonstop! I think I might even have that tape still. They simply created my addiction to metal. The classic 80’s metal albums had a way to spark your imagination and like a good book created pictures and stories in my mind when I listened to them. Metallica were just the best storytellers in my opinion.
What is it that makes them so good?
The riffs, the melodies, the vocals, the atmosphere, the variety, they are simply beyond brilliant. Especially the records you hear at 12-18 become part of your life and transport a mystical, otherworldly feeling I nowadays can’t imagine to live without. In my case "Ride…" and "Master…" fulfill that function, for others it might be classic Maiden or something.
What was your relationship to Metallica before you heard "Ride the Lightning"?
As I wasn’t reading any kind of music mags in the 80’s or early 90’s and thus knew nothing much about metal I heard them for the first time when I was 12 when "Enter Sandman" was played on MTV. Before that I only listened to Scorpions, some Accept/UDO and Depeche Mode, it was one of those "Holy shiiit" moments where you wonder how you could miss that in the first place. My mum bought the black album for me on cassette and I bought my first metal mag in the same year so then I basically started caring about this music at all. Since I got hooked on Metallica with the black album digging deeper into their past made me discover only even much better records. For me it was such a rewarding time since all the classic bands I discovered back then had so many great albums already out there. I even stole money from my parents to be able to buy all these records, because there was a treasure literally behind every corner.
Is there any other album that has the potential to take over the place as a favorite album or are that too many memories and too much history behind the choice of "Ride the Lightning" and "Master of Puppets"?
I think these records will have these positions forever, carved in stone and cut in iron. Slayer and a lot of classic death metal albums (like "Leprosy" or "Blessed Are The Sick") might have been able to put up some serious competition but in the long run it’ll always be these.
Slayer and Metallica are two of the Big Four in thrash metal. What about the other two; Megadeth and Anthrax?
I really, really like Megadeth a lot and still listen to them quite often. "Peace Sells…" and "Rust…" are totally fantastic. I always enjoyed Anthrax ("Persistence Of Time" in particular) but they never managed to create the magic and special something Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth had. These three bands had a more serious, darker vibe to me than Anthrax.
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?
To relax either some Johnny Cash, alternative country like 16 Horsepower or 70’s rock like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash or The Free is my favorite choice. I also find technical (death) metal very moody, so listening to Death’s "Symbolic", Nocturnus "Thresholds", some Nevermore, Polluted Inheritance, Coroner, The Faceless, earlier Obliveon etc is pretty relaxing to me as well.
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?
I don’t really mind though I like the fact that some reissues also offer you a thicker booklet containing detailed liner notes revealing the story behind an album, tell more about the recordings and mood the band was in and thus prove to be quite helpful when you just discover a band. Especially for albums that were recorded before I was even born, I really like this chance to travel through time and discover the history of an album along with its music/lyrics. Honestly, today I’ll be buying the deluxe edition of Sabbath’s "Born Again" as I’m curious to see if they could improve the sound somewhat, so, yes, I like reissues. First pressings are terribly expensive often and since I like to buy music at a reasonable price, I’d rather go for several re-releases instead of one expensive first press. But you can definitely make some bad experiences with reissues, recently bought one that sounded rather bad from King Diamond’s "Spider’s Lullaby", was pretty pissed at that. I really love buying second hand stuff, so music fairs are still terribly attractive to me.
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?
"Decade Of Aggression" is awesome and I think I don’t need to explain why – it simply slays! Also, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Venom is killer or "Live After Death" by Iron Maiden, but I prefer studio albums since my concentration for the music is not being distracted by some cheering audience. Listening to a studio album for me is more like a personal listening experience which I prefer over a live record.
What about the gender distribution in your collection; how is that coming along?
I love women but I hate female vocals except for the band Nuclear Death and some classic 60’s soul voices, so consider my record collection somewhat misogynist. Sorry, ladies!
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?
I would definitely put on some drama to get rid of him, cry like a baby and shit like that, but in the end I would simply try to pick something I’ve never listened to yet or do not care that much about.