Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Matthew Phillips!

Next collector up is none other than Matthew Joel Phillips. Matthew is another collector I have not yet gotten the pleasure of meeting but was nice enough to do an interview for my blog.

He has some great stuff in this collection. More than that, he definetly has style! As you can see with his collages, shelf units and even his way of displaying his cool concert t-shirts.

Hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did. And thanks for all the people contacting me for interviews! If you or someone you know is interested in an interview please email me at !!

Here we go!

Introduce yourself!


Matthew Joel Phillips


Fredericton (moved here January 1997)
Grew up in St. Stephen


Freelance Graphic Designer
Owner of GoNorth Design, Inc.

What do you collect? Vinyl; CD’s; Cassettes; 8 tracks; bootlegs; music memorabilia; magazine; etc..

Growing up in the '80s I started with cassettes, and just recently I found a few plastic bags of them in my parents attic. Instead of trying to relive those days, I picked some of my favourite cassette covers, and framed the inserts (collage-style) in my office.

Cassette collage

Oasis single artwork collage

In the early '90s I started collecting vinyl records at a time when cassettes were fading fast, CDs were huge, and vinyl was all but forgotten in North America.

In the UK, however, they continued to manufacture new vinyl records. On my only trip to London in 1994, I brought back vinyl of Motley Crue's self-titled record with new singer John Corabi, and my friends thought that was so cool.

I also started collecting ticket stubs and T-shirts concerts I've attended, and I wish I had started this sooner. There are many concerts from the late '80s-'90s that I don't have the tickets or T-shirts from anymore.

 Some of my favourite tour T-shirts I have rolled into a big shadowbox frame and displayed on my office wall. I've never actually liked wearing T-shirts (I know that's weird) but I always try to buy a souvenir from a show.

Concert t-shirts

It's inevitable, but I was disappointed in the last few years to see many venues going with e-Tickets with no option to pay extra for a printed ticket. I know it's supposed to save the trees, but it's no fun printing off your own ticket on thin paper from an office inkjet printer, it doesn't have the same feeling.

I like to keep the tickets and insert them into my CD jewel cases. We'll never see Led Zeppelin live, but when Classic Albums live comes to town (and plays "Led Zeppelin IV in its entirety live for example), I always go to the shows, keep the tickets, and insert them into my Led Zeppelin CDs. It`s nice to open up those CDs down the road and reminisce.

Led zeppelin IV with Classic albums live ticket

Do you prefer one audio format more than others? (example: vinyl more than cd’s)

Sadly I have never owned a professional-grade sound system, so I have yet to appreciate the superior fidelity of high quality vinyl records. For every day listening, I rip my CDs to 320kbs MP3 (highest quality bit rate) and play through my office speakers or my iPhone.

My record player is also connected to the same speaker system which is quite convenient for when I do have the extra time to sit back and enjoy the pops and clicks of old vinyl.

I love vinyl, but I lack the patience to listen to it as my main source of music.

Someone recently posted a link to a $15,000 record player
(see: )

For that price & quality, I've often wondered why someone hasn't invented the double-sided record player.

I remember when double-sided cassette decks came out that would automatically play either side without you having to manually open, eject and flip the cassette. That was rad (correct terminology for the '80s!)

What about a turntable that has needles that play from the top or bottom, with a support that floats the record in the middle (like hamburger patty) and the needles come from top or bottom (like a bun)?

That design concept could be difficult if you want to manually select a spot on the record (when that side is upside down), but if you just want it to play from the start automatically I can envision this.

Another invention could be a turntable connected to a database, and before you insert the LP you tell it which album you are inserting, and from the database it knows what the songs and song lengths are and lets you 'skip' to different tracks because it knows Track x starts at 5:41 or whatever. And it knows the needle has to drop at this specific spot to fall at exactly 5:41.

What is your favourite genre of music? Some of your favourite artists?

Most of my collection is hard rock / heavy metal from the '70s and '80s, nothing too obscure.

Most metal fans I know are die hard and don't listen to many other genres.

On the other hand, I am just as comfortable at an Alice Cooper or Guns N Roses concert as I am seeing Big Sugar, The Beach Boys, or Matt Dusk.

My big thing is the vocals. If I can't enjoy the lead singer's voice, I can't enjoy the rest of the music. Why I love Dave Mustaine's voice (Megadeth) and not Geddy Lee's (Rush) I can't explain.

How big is your collection?

It's funny you should ask that! Earlier this year I began ripping all of my CDs, not to get rid of them (like some people have been doing...that's a big no-no!) but to finally take stock of what I've got.

So far I have around 600 CDs, 120 vinyl records, and about 80 music-related DVDs (various live concerts and Classic Albums documentaries).

Not bad for someone who has never worked at a radio station!

When a favourite band releases a new record and there is a special edition that comes with a "making-of" DVD, you can almost be certain I'll pay the extra money for that.

My first CD was Ozzy Osbourne's "Live & Loud" (1993). I remember this because at the time I didn't own a CD player! It came in special packaging that looked like a speaker, and I just had to have it before they sold out (and before I could even listen to it).

I also have an entire shelf of music-themed books (about 30 books), mostly biographies on bands like The Beach Boys, Ozzy, KISS, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Doors.

 Music books
The art of Derek Riggs - cover artist for Iron Maiden - signed

I think it's important to read a lot of different sources to really understand a band. If the  only thing you've read about The Doors is from "No One Here Gets Out Alive" (probably their most famous biography) you're only getting one very romantic version of the band's lead singer and missing out on so much about the rest of the band and their stories.

What is the first album you remember purchasing? Do you still have it?

Iron Maiden - Powerslave (1985) on cassette, and unfortunately it's gone missing. My family had won a trip to Disney World in Florida, in 1986, and my parents suggested I buy something to listen to on my Sony Walkman for the long flight to Orlando.

Oddly enough I loved that album but never became a huge Iron Maiden fan until the last 10 years, when I could finally afford to buy all of their reissued CDs and the  Eddie's Archive boxset.

I would love to find this album on vinyl.

What are some favourite items in your collection?

1. Most recently: The Smile Sessions boxset (2011) by The Beach Boys, featuring five CDs, two LPs, two 7″s, a 60 page book, and a “three-dimensional shadowbox lid.” It was a very expensive package that I couldn't justify spending money on in 2011 while planning my Wedding. Instead, I traded services with a client and he bought it for me, which was pretty awesome. As I mentioned before I love all of that "making-of" stuff. It's a collection you have to listen to with headphones on.

Beach Boys - smile sessions box set

2. The KISS deluxe guitar case boxset (2001) and the original KISSTORY 152-page 8lb book, signed by the band.

3. A poorly-reviewed CD by The Beach Boys called "Summer In Paradise" (1992) that sold just as poorly (reportedly less than 10,000 copies) and has been out of print ever since. It sells for $150 + new on, and last year I bought it barely used for $5 at Digital World. It comes in a fold-out cardboard packaging that was new for CDs at the time.

Beach Boys - summer in paradise cd

4.   A brilliant boxset for Oasis' last album, "Dig Out Your Soul", imported from the UK that comes with 4 heavyweight LPs, a 24-page book, the album on CD, a bonus CD, and a making of DVD.

Oasis-dig out your soul boxset

5.   The Beatles "Rubber Soul" on vinyl, an original Canadian mono pressing from 1965, in really great condition.

Do you still actively collect or was this something you concentrated on in the past?

I still spend hundreds of dollars on music every year, on both new and used CDs and vinyl records.

On the other hand, I also haven't embraced buying digital music. To date I've only purchased one full album on iTunes, and only because that was the only way to purchase it (it wasn't available on CD).

When you buy music from iTunes, you don't own it. You're licensing it.

Not that I want to sell off my music, but you can't resell an MP3.

You can’t even legally give an MP3 away.

And I don't agree with stealing music just because it's freely available. As a freelance designer, I certainly don't work for free, and wouldn't expect musicians to do the same.

What is your preferred way of adding to your collection? Shopping online? Flea Markets? Independent music stores? Etc… Any favourite store or websites?

Going back to my early teens, I loved walking across the Canada-U.S. border to Record Town in Calais, ME to see what new releases were on the shelves, and to browse through the back catalogue.

So I am very sad to see all of these great record stores disappear.

I would prefer to shop locally, but the local shops carry very little of what I like, and most of it would have to be ordered in (and that's far too expensive.)

Eric at Backstreet Records is great, always friendly and helpful, and I've been shopping at his store for well over 20 years now, though I rarely find a lot that I want there. I'm definitely not his core demographic.

My favourite independent record store is Bull Moose in Bangor, ME. Chris Brown from Bull Moose came up with the concept for independant Record Store Day (see:

This year we're roadtripping from Fredericton to Moncton for RSD 2012 on Saturday, April 21st.

I'll be in Bangor in June for The Beach Boys concert, and will definitely visit Bull Moose then.

I also ordered a few things from Eric at Backstreet Records for this year's RSD (some special vinyl that is only coming out in the UK and Eric's not bringing in on his own.)

If you're reading this, you should already be planning to support your local independent record stores in April!

How do you store your collection? Shelves? Boxes? Your attic?

All of my CDs and DVDs are displayed in custom-built pine display cases that were gifts from my parents.
CD rack 
Ziltoid puppet and CD from Devin Townsend

When I had so many CDs that they overtook my nightstand, I commissioned a family friend to build them.

I sketched out on my computer basically what I wanted (what size, how many shelves, etc.) and he built them for me over the years.

The boxes for my records were also built by the same person. They're thick and stackable, with handles carved into each side, and bloody heavy with 40+ vinyl records in each one.

Album boxes

Does your significant other support your collection? Did you have to convince him/her?

My wife is very supportive and knows how much music in general means to me. Growing up she never had the chance to see many live shows, and so it's been fun introducing her to a lot of live music.

I'm a horrible one for buying CDs on release day, and I've ruined more than one surprise from my wife when she comes home with a new CD for me... that I already bought that morning. It's happened more than once!

For the past 7 years since starting my company (GoNorth Design) I've worked from home, and my home office has become my all-day man cave. While I work on designs, I am surrounded by the things I love in music.

I snuck a few framed records into the hallway just outside my office, but... that's where it stops! LOL!

INXS wall

Kiss wall

What is on your “wish list” at the moment?

Someday I would like to complete my KISS vinyl and CD collection. I've been a fan of theirs for almost 30 years, but my collection is hardly worthy of this. Regardless of what you think of KISS, they have a back catalogue of vinyl records with some amazing covers and inserts and packaging that is unmatched.

Again with my favourite genre ('80s hard rock and metal), I'd love to find a few vinyl records from the late '80s-early '90s, like Aerosmith's "Pump", The Cult "Ceremony", Ozzy "No More Tears" or Guns 'N' Roses "Use Your Illusion".

The Internet has turned some collectors into hoarders as it's so much easier to find whatever you want.

But I still like the experience of hopping in the car and road tripping to Bangor or Moncton or Orono or Saint John or hitting a local flea market and discovering the old fashioned way.

There's no feeling that compares to finding that one record you've searched 20 years for.

Do you know any other collectors?

My next door neighbor Glenn has converted his downstairs rec room into a vinyl haven, you should totally interview him!

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