Bill HansenBill Hansen (35 years old when this interview taken – late July 2014) is an electrical engineer near Minneapolis, MN but he grew up near Chicago, IL. Bill is known for his weekly radio show "The Metal Evangelist” which can be heard on As he puts it "…I play the old bands people know mixed in with talented obscure or unsigned bands.  I like to say that I spread the word of True Metal”. Bill also runs an associated YouTube channel where he does short reviews of albums and show-off his music collection.

When did you realize that you are becoming a collector of Metal CDs, LPs and stuff?

I’ve always had a collector’s mentality from a young age.  I scoured garage sales for Star Wars toys as a kid and also was into GI Joes and NFL football cards.  I had a modest sized CD collection through high school, and it started to grow more in college when I was the Metal music director at the school radio station.  It wasn’t until after college when I discovered eBay that I really started going back and collecting all those old CDs I could never afford to buy as a kid or was too scared to take a chance on.  And now with so many labels and bands selling product online, it’s incredibly easy for a collection to mushroom out of control.

Right now how many items you own and in what formats?

My collection of CDs is approximately 1760. I have about 150 vinyls (LPs & EPs) and a handful of cassettes.

Do you have a special focus when it comes to collecting?

My two favorite genres are Thrash Metal and Death Metal so bands of those genres make up the bulk of my collection.  My favorite bands are Death, Carcass, Nevermore, Goatwhore and The Chasm.  I like to own all the full-length albums of my favorite bands, so for those 5 and quite a lot more bands, I collect all the standard releases.  I’ll pick up EPs and singles here and there if they have important songs or I like the cover art, but I’m not a "completist” where I have to own every single thing a band has ever released.  I also don’t collect multiple copies of an album just because it’s released in different countries or by different labels.  An exception to this would be if a CD is re-released with bonus demo tracks such as Depravity’s "Silence of the Centuries” CD of which I have the original and the reissue.  I also find it exciting to own the demos or self-released albums of the more obscure underground bands in those genres; some of which have turned into bigger acts over the years.  I’ve got "unofficial” releases from Evile, Warbringer, Lazarus A.D., Hail of Bullets, Hooded Menace, etc.

Up until a couple years ago I only bought CDs.  With some friends of mine getting into it and a local metal-exclusive shop opening up, I’ve been buying certain releases on vinyl now too.  I’d say about half my LPs I already own on CD, but I want to experience certain favorite albums in that format.

Bill Hansen's collection

Is it easy for you to organize and store your collection? How is it organized?

It is now, yes.  I designed and built a custom CD rack to hold my collection back in 2010, because I had CDs scattered around in various boxes, crates & piles and it was an unorganized mess.  The new rack got everything in one place and easily accessible.  I have since built a second rack (each can hold approximately 1200 CDs) and now it is very easy to find what I’m looking for.  All my CDs are arranged alphabetically by artist and each artist is chronological by release date.

Do you keep a file or an index of your collection?

I use to keep track of my collection.  I like the fact that it is web based, because I can look up the collection on my phone if I’m at a used CD store and can’t remember if I have a certain album.  It’s also possible to generate a list of the collection in an Xcel file from there which can be helpful at times.

So, what was your very first item?

I’m not 100% certain, but I think it was Anthrax "Attack of the Killer B’s”.  I joined one of those mail-order record clubs after I purchased a boombox with a CD player for myself.  This was around 1992 and I was 13 years old.  I ordered some atrociously bad CDs with that initial purchase, but one I’m not ashamed to mention was Public Enemy "Apocalypse ’91:  The Enemy Strikes Black”.  The last track was ‘Bring The Noise” remade with Anthrax.  I found myself listening to that track over and over, and it made we want to explore more Heavy Metal.  Luckily, the record club would let you mail back CDs if you didn’t like them.  So I shipped back the crap in exchange for Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Testament.

Which are your top five places to buy music?

1.    Into the Void Records in St. Paul, MN is the exclusively metal shop I mentioned earlier.  They have a great selection of new & used CDs and LPs plus shirts and patches.  It’s great to be able to flip through physical albums at a real store.
2.    Dark Descent Records online shop is a favorite not only for their label releases, but they stock quite a bit of albums from European labels that are difficult to find in the United States.  Plus they have sales every 3 or 4 months.
3.    Unholy Anarchy Records has a nice online shop as well and will ship orders over $50 for free.
4.    CM Distro, I feel like everyone knows about, but they have a large selection, low prices and fast shipping.
5.    Any band’s merchandise table at a show.  It’s gratifying to hand over cash directly to an artist.

Do you also collect items from artists that you might not like? If so, why?

Nope.  I tend to sell the stuff I end up not liking.  One exception is a trash-can-snare-drum-mid-life-crisis abomination that shall remain nameless.  I keep it as an historical reference and because nobody would buy that shit.

Bill Hansen's collectionWhat is your opinion on downloading music? Do you also download? Or you keep it only physical?

Yes I do, and my opinion on downloading is that ultimately it’s a good thing.  The reason being because a person can hear more music and that leads to liking more bands which leads to spending more money on those bands you like - whether it be a physical album, t-shirt or concert ticket.  Or even just telling your friends about the new band you discovered.  We’ve been hearing for years that "sharing” is going to kill music.  Record labels have been "warning” us about it since cassettes became popular in the early 80s.  We are about 15 years removed from the Napster boom and there are thousands of bands still making music.  I understand there are drawbacks; most specifically bands make less money.  An example being Frank Mullen of Suffocation not being able to tour outside of the US because he has to hold down another job to support his family.  But, consider the fact that Suffocation does not control the rights to their back catalog of albums from when they were signed to Roadrunner Records.  If they actually owned that music, the band could reissue those albums on vinyl and CD and make a profit for themselves.  But, you haven’t seen "Effigy of the Forgotten” re-released on vinyl because the record company controls the rights to it.  And don’t forget that bands only saw pennies for each album sold back when buying albums was the only way to hear music.  My point is that many of these problems stem from corporate greed and not fans sharing music.

Back to the original question, yes I download.  I would love to own a physical copy of every album I enjoy, but that’s not financially feasible for me.  My thirst for Metal exceeds my financial capabilities.  That’s why when I do buy CDs, I try to spend my money wisely and buy when things are on sale or I try to support the underground by purchasing from independent bands and small labels like Unspeakable Axe, Stormspell, Boris, Deathgasm, Tankcrimes, Butchered, Horror Pain Gore Death, etc.

So to finish this up, having a digital music collection has helped me listen to more music and to keep better track of it, instead of just acquiring it.  A few years back I finally bought an mp3 player and now I listen anytime I’m driving in the car.  I like to load up about 100 albums at a time and sort the songs alphabetically, so then I’m listening to songs randomly, as if I was listening to the radio, but I can still keep track from beginning to end and know that I’ve heard every song.  Using the track rating feature (1 to 5 stars), I’m able to ultimately come up with an overall rating for each album which I then track on  This helps me generate a want list and a sell list.  Plus, the track ratings allow me to quickly make up playlists for my radio show without having to spend much time previewing tracks.  I know which songs on an album are my favorites just from seeing a 5 star rating.
Bill Hansen's collection

What would you say is the "driving force” behind your collecting hobby? Do you have to have it? Is it –somehow- a part of yourself and you must own it? How do you analyze it in psychological terms? 

The main driving force is the love of the music itself.  Metal just speaks to me in a way that other genres can’t.  There’s nothing like a distorted guitar playing a great riff to get your blood pumping and your head banging.  And I have that collector’s gene in my DNA, so I just feel a kind of satisfaction in maintaining a music collection.  Sometimes I will obsess over a certain album and have to go buy it.  I’m trying to temper those feelings these days and be less obsessive.  I’m focusing more on listening to and enjoying the CDs I have rather than feeding the "thrill of the hunt” addiction.

Any regrets of an item you sold/lost/gave away in the past that you shouldn’t?

Yes.  I sold an original press copy of Massacra’s "Enjoy The Violence” before giving it a fair shake and I wish I hadn’t.  I also sold a bunch of Runemagick CDs that I quickly realized was a mistake.  I’ve since re-purchased all of those.  There are probably some others, but I’m blocking out those bad memories.

Have you ever bought an item you already had because you couldn’t remember if you owned it or not?

No, I don’t think this has ever happened to me.

Bill Hansen's collectionWhat are the most valuable items in your collection?

Well, from a market value standpoint the most valuable CDs would probably be:
Monstrosity – Imperial Doom, 1992 Nuclear Blast
Morta Skuld – Dying Remains, 1993 Deaf
Gutted – Bleed for Us to Live, 1994 Red Light
Therion – Of Darkness, 1992 Deaf
Merciless – The Treasures Within, 1992 Active

Some of the more valuable to me from a sentimental standpoint are:
Juvenocracy – 2 of a Kind (They were a Thrash band from my hometown of Richmond, IL.  Two of the guys were older brothers of my best friend growing up.  My first real concert was seeing Juvenocracy play Memorial Hall in Richmond.)
Response Negative – self-titled EP (Self released featuring Bobby Gustafson of Overkill fame on guitar.)
Hail of Bullets – self-titled demo (This is the demo CD they circulated before signing with Metal Blade.  The band sent this to me and I played it on my radio show a ton back in 2007.)
Hooded Menace – The Eyeless Horde demo (Lasse Pyykkö sent me this to play on my show in addition to other demos from bands of his like Vacant Coffin and Phlegethon.)
Bill Hansen's collectionShards of Humanity – Fractured Frequencies (This one was just released but has a cool back story.  Last year when David DiSanto of Vektor was thrown in jail in Memphis, he wrote a Facebook post about the experience and at the end he thanked Ryan from Shards of Humanity for picking him up and driving him to the airport so he could get home.  This made me curious about Shards of Humanity, so I looked them up, and realized they were a pretty good Death/Thrash band, especially for having only 2 members at the time.  I bought their demo CD and it was a good listen.  Not soon after, Eric from Unspeakable Axe posted on a message board asking if there were any bands he should check out for the label he recently started.  I wrote back that Shards of Humanity was worth his time, and a few days later he’s posting a photo of their CD with the caption of "listening to some new bands.”  Wasn’t long after that I was talking to Ryan he and told me Shards was working on signing with Unspeakable Axe.  Long story short, my name is on the thanks list of their debut full-length CD!  In a very, VERY small way I’m part of Metal history now. Haha!  And the album kicks ass, btw.

Do you also have a want-list? How many items does it have?

Yes, there are hundreds on there.  I haven’t been buying much lately, so it’s not very well maintained right now. 

Do you have family and kids? How do you talk to them about your hobby? Are they allowed to approach your collection?

Yes, I have a wife and a two year old son.  My wife isn’t a fan of metal so she doesn’t bother with my collection.  She is at the least (sometimes reluctantly) understanding of my collecting habit.  My son is only interested in making a mess of things at his age, so I have to be watchful of him around my CDs.  It was funny the other day when he randomly pulled out a CD and handed me Celtic Frost’s "To Mega Therion.”  I’m hoping he’ll grow into a proper metalhead one day and we can enjoy the CD collection together.  ;-)

Remember the days before the internet? I am sure you must have been kind of more thrilled when discovering new music… and what a chase was to find more information about records no one else ever heard of….

Yes, I remember the days of skimming thanks list for new bands or reading Metal Maniacs magazine or just buying an album based on the badass cover art.  I discovered Pantera, Sepultura and Death from borrowing CDs from friends at school.  I also discovered new stuff by having a friend tape (yes, on VHS) Headbanger’s Ball for me since I didn’t have Cable TV.  There was actually a Metal radio show on FM that aired on the weekend late at night near where I grew up.  I think it was called Rebel Radio.  I first heard Cannibal Corpse when they played the song ‘Mummified in Barbed Wire’.  After about 10 seconds I thought to myself, "Whatever this is, I need to buy this CD.”  I still enjoy the chase of finding new bands today by using the Internet.  YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp all are great ways to randomly discover new bands (and even old ones).

What would you like to happen to your collection when you will leave this world?

At this point, if my offspring grow up to be metalheads, I expect to leave it to them.  However, if they are not into the music or the aspect of collecting, I could perhaps see myself someday selling the collection and using the money to take my wife on a nice vacation.

Any last words?

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading!  I hope it was entertaining.  I did quite a bit of name-dropping, so please have a listen to those bands and labels I mentioned.  And please check out The Metal Evangelist radio show and the YouTube channel to discover more great metal bands.  You can also find me on Instagram @beerbliss_metalevangelist.  Stay heavy!  \m/

The Metal Evangelist radio show