On June 20, Houston-based auction house Backstage Auctions will begin its annual Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction. Consisting of memorabilia from iconic rock ‘n’ roll artists and the heaviest bands on the planet, the Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction is as interesting and rock solid as any annual music auction there is.
Goldmine asked Backstage Auctions owner Jacques van Gool a few questions about the upcoming Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction, which runs June 20-28 (special VIP preview June 13-19).
GOLDMINE: Why and when did you decide to make the Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction an annual event?
JACQUES VAN GOOL: Well, let’s see, this is our fourth one in four years, so 2011 was the first time. The reason why is multiple; it’s a lot of fun, we’re very comfortable handling “all things” Hard-Rock and Heavy-Metal and most importantly, there is a growing number of collectors who wants Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer over Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys.
GM: In your opinion, what artist is a perfect example of a ‘Rock God,’ and then a ‘Metal Monster’?
VAN GOOL: Ha, that’s a interesting question. When I think of a Rock God, I’m visualizing a music icon with universal reach and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame level accomplishments. Actually, that might not be such a good answer because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is hardly the yardstick for what’s relevant, but figure of speech…think KISS, Ted Nugent, Steven Tyler, Angus Young, Eddie Van Halen, Rob Halford, Lemmy etc.
Metal Monsters are the guys and girls who are the gorilla glue that keep this metal community together. They all are and have been carrying the metal torches and flags for decades and they are the ones who have written and performed the metal anthems that so many of us grew up with; Scott Ian, Dave Mustaine, Gary Holt, Alex Skolnick, Lita Ford, Mike Portnoy and so on. Not surprisingly, we have many Metal Monster consigners!
GM: How is heavy metal becoming the new genre to collect?
VAN GOOL: For starters, I think it’s an age thing. Right now the most active demographic that collects are people, mostly male, between the ages of 35 and 55, who grew up on music from the 1980s and 1990s. Setting aside a few big pop stars, those were the years of heavy metal, hair metal, thrash metal, industrial metal, grunge rock, as well as the early days of nu-metal. The other reason is that ‘anything’ rock and metal has always created a more fanatical crowd due to the whole counterculture element. The metal genre has created – and continues to create – a high level of loyalty. Once a metalhead, always a metalhead. Combine that with the graphic element of metal – something that is exceptionally strong and important, and you will find a community that expresses their love for ‘their kind of music’ through t-shirts, patches, buttons, fashion, posters, vinyl, etc. Even if you don’t care for metal, you simply can’t deny the cool factor. Do you want to hang a poster of a weepy dude with an acoustic guitar on your wall or would you like to see Manowar getting ready for battle? Next…!!!
GM: Are other ‘80s genres coming to the forefront of collectibility?
VAN GOOL: Not as strong but I certainly see potential for (British) New Wave and Synth-Pop (New Order, The Smiths, The Residents, Kraftwerk) and Post-Punk. Clearly 1980s Pop – or at least the A-list – has already been collectible for quite some time now, such as U2, Madonna and Prince. It would be nice to see those genres grow in collectibility, albeit that I don’t believe that it will happen in the same way and format as selling 1960s and 1970s collectibles.
GM: Talk about some of the highlights of this year’s Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction, and why.
VAN GOOL: This is such a hard question, simply because I think that most of everything that we have in the auction is special, no matter how large or small. There is Lita Ford’s famous black cat suit from the early Runaways days, or a fully-signed bass drumhead from the first ever American show of Venom in New York. Mike Portnoy and Charlie Benante both are offering a complete drum kit – which is a first for both of them, but then we also have a multitude of impressive guitars from various rock stars. You can bid on Marilyn Manson’s tour-used army hat, Tommy Lee’s drum sticks, Stephen Pearcy’s microphone grip or Gene Simmons body armor from the Psycho Circus tour. And speaking of KISS, we have the ‘oldest known to exist’ fully-signed promo photo which is a museum piece all by itself. There are hundreds of backstage passes, guitar picks, autographed items, record awards, tour shirts and jackets…the catalog is not for the faint of heart.
GM: There seems to be a growing amount of ‘gear’ at music memorabilia auctions nowadays. Do you find that collectors are usually musicians themselves when collecting musical gear?
VAN GOOL: No, not really. I mean, sure, a good number will buy amps, cabinets, road cases, microphone stands etc. to actually use and enjoy, but I know that there is an equally large number of people who simply buy gear for display purposes. I have seen people turn road cases into coffee tables, storage bins and even cabinets and book cases. These days an amp or cabinet makes for an equally attractive piece of decorative furniture than for example a birdcage or a fake bamboo plant. And it’s a better conversation piece too!
GM: You just had a distinct metal auction with Rex Brown of Pantera. Will there be more Pantera memorabilia available from this auction?
VAN GOOL: Yes, there will be a few more pieces. There are about 10 lots from Rex in this auction and another equal number of items coming from other consigners, such as some passes, picks, itineraries, record awards, etc.
GM: Are the artists usually easy to work with? Do they ever go through separation anxiety after the commitment to auction off personal possessions?
VAN GOOL: I don’t know if ‘easy’ is the right word but I personally have been able to build very good relationship with all our metal consigners. Two things you have to know; metal artists are known to have to do a lot on their own and most had to build their band (and brand) from the ground up. In other words, for the most part they are self-sufficient and generally knowledgeable about the business side of things. The other element is that metal artists generally have a very strong bond with their fans. They are very comfortable with exposure and don’t hide behind a bodyguard who will whisk them to a blacked-out limo. So, if you can speak their language, understand their drive and history and most importantly, be honest, you’ll end up doing just fine.
GM: What is next for Backstage Auctions after the Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction is over?
VAN GOOL: Vacation, R&R, trips to the reflexologist, kicking in a dent in the 100 or so saved shows on my DVR and maybe even a nap or two. After that we are getting ready for a ‘one-of-a-kind’ auction on behalf of a former British photo agency with tens of thousands of negatives from the 1960s and 1970s U.K. Rock & Pop scene, as well as a Classic Rock & Pop auction later in the year. Meanwhile, we’re also looking at a few ‘stand-alone’ auctions for some A-list clients…METAL clients that is!
This edition’s cover story features Metallica. The album anniversaries of two important Metal albums: ”Master of Puppets“ and ”The Black Album“. Inside you will also find:
• A new excerpt from metal author Mick Wall’s biography on Metallica
• Two of Thin Lizzy’s guitarists are celebrated: Brian Robertson and Gary Moore
• David Coverdale and Whitesnake
• The former Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist continues his solo project
• Wendy Dio talks about her legendary husband, Ronnie James
• Reviews on Blizzard of Ozz box set, Dylan, Magnum, Heart, and more
• Both Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French and SiruisXM’s Eddie Trunk give the 10 albums that changed their lives
• Martin Popoff’s guide on collecting the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM)