Interview with SIMON HAWEMANN, Musician and Record Collector from Tampa, FL

Simon Hawemann aka simonxsludge

Vinyl Sphere, being a relatively new website, started with an idea of sharing our love for music, and vinyl especially. Simon Hawemann aka simonxsludge has had a huge impact on a few of us here behind the screen to finally launch the website, so we can easily say that he definitely is “guilty” for making Vinyl Sphere real (though it’s just the Internet).

Simon, who resides in Tampa, Florida, has been surrounded with vinyl for a very long time. This vinyl aficionado, who also is a guitarist in a metal band Nightmarer, spoke for Vinyl Sphere about his vinyl collection, turntable setup, most valuable record in his collection, but he also told us about the upcoming full-length debut album his band is to release via Season of Mist.

How did you go about starting your vinyl collection, and how long has it been since you are a record collector?

It’s save to say that the reason I got into vinyl to begin with was my uncle. He didn’t only give me my first record player and a couple of classics in the late ‘90s — he also has a collection of over 10000 records, for which he has to rent an entire additional apartment next door to the apartment he lives in with his family. I grew up around my cousin and him, so I spent a lot of time surrounded by records when I was a kid.

But I think I didn’t start collecting more seriously until maybe 2005. Going to (and starting to play) lots of Metal and Hardcore shows exposed me to distros that carried just the type of stuff I was into and it just kinda took off from there.

What was the first vinyl you bought or received?

The first vinyl I bought for myself was actually Slipknot‘s Iowa in 2001. The stuff my uncle gave me a couple of years prior to that included Nirvana‘s Nevermind, which I was super stoked about, and classics from Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Depeche Mode and so on.

A small part of Simon’s collection (Photo: @simonxsludge)

How large is your vinyl collection? 

I own just under 1500 records. The only reason I know is that I have them all listed in my Discogs collection, which I luckily started with really early on. I can’t imagine having to put in an amount like that from scratch. But it’s a convenient tool to keep an overview and obviously the marketplace makes it easy to move stuff as well.

How do you go about choosing which record will have a place in your collection? Do you usually check new albums online, or do you grab a record just “out of the blue,” or it’s a mixed bag of these two?

It’s definitely a mixed bag. I often impulse-buy stuff that sounds good on paper, so to speak. I rarely listen to track premieres or full album streams before the release anymore. I’m not sure why — maybe because it all sounds horrible hosted on SoundCloud and I don’t wanna deal with that.

When it comes to bands I’m completely unfamiliar with, I usually wait for the release date and listen to it on Spotify. And new records from bands I’m already a fan of I usually buy blindly.

Simon crate-digging (Photo: @simonxsludge)

Where from do you get your records usually?

I’m not gonna lie, I mostly get my records online! If you wanna get your hands on the cool, limited edition variants, you gotta pre-order online from the labels directly. I do like to shop at local stores as well — Steelworker Records in Tampa is a great place for extreme Metal vinyl, even obscure underground stuff. There are some cool stores in the area for sure.

And while stores are usually a little more pricey, you can make some lucky scores for sure. I once found a sealed copy of Godflesh‘s Pure at a store in the area — for less than half of what they’re going for online.

What is the most valuable record in your collection? And do you have sort of a wishlist with records that you want to get one day?

The most valuable record in my collection is apparently the Meshuggah 17xLP boxset, closely followed by the red promo pressing of White Pony by the Deftones.

And I do have quite a few things on my wantlist, but nothing too crazy. I am not willing to spend insane amounts of records anymore and rather wait for a very long time until I can make a lucky score. But for the sake of it, here are three top wants:

SwansPublic Castration is a Good Idea

ZekeDeath Alley

Morbid AngelFormulas… (Lava Edition)

Meshuggah25 Years of Musical Deviance 17xLP box-set (Photo: @simonxsludge)

Tell me about your turntable setup (turntable, preamp, speakers,…).

I have a pretty humble setup, consisting of an Audio Technica AT-LP120, a Yamaha R-S201 stereo receiver and Onkyo speakers. I’m quite happy with it, but I do wanna upgrade the record player at some point.

Do you have any advices for people that are about to start or just started collecting vinyls?

I don’t really have an advice, but I support everyone who buys physical records 100%. I also listen to a lot of digital releases out of convenience, but there is nothing like receiving a record with great artwork and on cool looking vinyl. I appreciate the effort artists and labels put into a lot of their releases nowadays and I often feel like it makes me connect with the music even more.

Nightmarer

One last question: I know that you are in a band called Nightmarer, and you are about to launch your full-length album via Season of Mist. What can you tell me about it? I suppose it will be available on vinyl too?

That is correct. The Nightmarer debut album will be released in the first quarter of 2018 and will indeed be available on vinyl as well.

It’s always hard to describe your own music, but I would call Nightmarer a maelstrom of dissonant Death- and Black Metal, with Industrial and Doom Metal influences. We call it Total Dissonance Worship. The album features 10 tracks, including the previously released “Ceremony of Control” from the Chasm EP, which you can listen to here: https://nightmarer.bandcamp.com

We were also able to collaborate with Alan Dubin from Khanate/Gnaw for a vocal feature on the final song of the album, which is a really big deal for me. His voice is one of the most frightening, tortured-sounding and intense in extreme music.

I can’t give away much more about the record just yet, but the promotion process should start soon-ish. Just follow us on www.facebook.com/nightmarercult or keep an eye on my Instagram profile, where I will also share everything relevant regarding the band.

Thanks for the interview!!!

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