For all avid heavy metal merch collectors the website tshirtslayer.com has become a veritable goldmine of pictures and information about rare collectibles from shirts to patches, CDs to vinyl where users can upload their own collections. I've been a member there for over a year now and felt it was high time to find out a little more about the creator, known as DoctorDeath...
Where did you get the idea to have a site dedicated to the visual side of metal? Did it surprise you that no-one had had the idea before?
Well it was a mix of circumstances really. Friends & I would often talk about the many T-shirt's we used to own that had gone missing either due to being stolen off the clothes line or stolen by dodgy ex-housemates over the years, as well as, we started to notice how many NEW T-shirt's were starting to appear at metal gigs, and very rarely were people wearing T-shirts that were faded and loved.
So I got thinking about making a bit of a record of T-shirts that are out there, beginning with my own and slayerslayer's collection, and letting other people add to that record / collection / gallery.
As for the idea if anyone had done it before or not, I really did not care, certain other sites force you to have to register just before you can even look at the T-shirt's, screw that! and they are in a stupid forum format you cant just browse the T-shirts, not to mention I did not want to force people to use a certain massive social networking website.
These T-shirt's are art and I think we are very lucky to have this medium to store and share the legacy of them.
Tell us a bit about why you decided to call the site tshirtslayer?
Well.. I wanted something people could find easily by Google, I'm breaking cover here, but initially I was going to call it "T-shirt tyrant", however I replaced tyrant with 'slayer' to help attract more people looking for a certain band's T-shirts..
Are you surprised at how big tshirtslayer has become since its creation?
Hmmm yes and no. It's been nearly 5 years of slow and steady growth, the first few years were pretty quiet, it's only recently the site is really starting to feel alive, I've only had to throw a very small handful of people off the site and most people that join have something very interesting to contribute.
There's a lot of people out there who really love their metal collection's that aren't in it for the fashion, it's been a real privilege to give them something they can use to connect with other like minded people.
I've had to purchase tshirtslayer's it's own server to cope with the traffic which is pretty cool!
Does running the site take a lot of work? Where did you learn all the necessary coding etc?
I'm a web-programmer (Drupal) for a day job (self employed), I actually quit my day job out of frustration because they were using some antiquated development software that would take them years to do what should take weeks. I quit my job and put together the basics of tshirtslayer in under a day, there's been years of very fine tuning. Looking after the site does not take much unless there's a major upgrade (which I am yet to do).
It takes up a lot of my day just reading forums and talking about T-shirts thou :) It's very addictive because you never know what someone will post, I'm often really surprised at the T-shirt's that are still out there.
Ever get recognized by fellow users when you're out and about?
Well, not recognized by my appearance, but if I mention tshirtslayer, I'm surprised how many people have visited the site. It's always a great feeling when someone says "No way! You run that site? I've been there!" when talking to some random metalheads at a festival for example.
Recently there was a new logo for the site posted but this has since been replaced by the old one. Any particular reason or did you just prefer the original?
I'm actually not sure what the logo should be.
I don't want an ultra-brutal generic death metal logo, because tshirtslayer is about the bands within it, not about tshirtslayer itself. I spoke to Christophe Szpajdel and we tried to come up with a logo but it just didn't feel right - hence the changing of logo's.
But at the same time it would be great to have a nice clean simple logo we can print on T-shirt's for example.
So I hope you understand the problem :)
You already offer stickers but there's quite a call from members for a tshirtslayer patch. Any plans to create one?
I think patches would require a very special logo, something I don't feel we quite have yet. However if/when we print T-shirt's I think the original logo (which can be seen on the free stickers) would be pretty awesome on a T-shirt.
What features would you like to add to the site? Where do you see it in 5 or even 10 years time?
I really need to add some functionality for rating up / down comments as there's some real golden comments in there, one of my favorites is "Short is hair for girls!" but you never find those comments unless you've been a member for a long time.
I'd also love to introduce a points system so you get points for people voting for your T-shirts, then for example you could help promote something on the site to the front page with those points, or we could just make it easier to find the more interesting posts.
How did you get into metal? What's your favorite sub genre?
Actually I remember the exact day it happened. I was watching The Young Ones episode called Bambi where Motörhead play, I thought to myself "Holy fuck, what the hell is this!! This is awesome!!!", from there it was the slippery slope and I discovered Testament and Celtic Frost, my brother was into a lot of black metal in the early 90s so I also got a strong influence from that too.
Favorite sub-genre is probably the early Swiss scene like Coroner and Celtic Frost, a bit of Swedish death and of course black metal, but I also love just good metal like Judas Priest and of course Type O'Negative.
How big is your own collection of bands shirts? Do you have a favorite one?
My collection is only around 25-30, it's way too hard to choose a favorite, I'm currently loving the original Screaming For Vengeance T-shirt I bought from a member on tshirtslayer, however for general gig's I love to wear my Loits (thank god the Estonian's are coming) T-shirt.
Which is one shirt or other piece of merch that you wish you owned?
I really wish I owned more Type O'Negative original stuff, I just never made the effort to collect more of it when it was readily available, now I'm really paying for it.
Who is your favorite album cover / T-shirt artist?
You can't go past Pushead, but, for me I'm more a Mark Riddick enthusiast, I find his logo's and artwork absolutely perfect, there's not a single thing I would change.
Do you have any particular favorites tshirtslayer entries from other users?
The hand-embroidered Exodus patch from CryptKeeper is a work of serious dedication. I love the all-out craziness of Daaams full print Testament T-shirt, and of course, BayernPirat's hand made vests are very very awesome.
You make the trip to Europe every year for festivals, which of them have you enjoyed most so far?
Yes that's correct, I usually go to Wacken and BrutalAssault. Wacken is fun and a good time to catch up with people, but BrutalAssault (CZ) is my favorite, it's so much more about the metal and general insanity than lot's of people just there to party, however it's a very fun party too. I find the smaller festivals are more interesting for me.
What are the best & worst gigs you've ever been to?
The worst is easy, it would have to be watching Turisas, I went along with an ex-girlfriend, oh man what a mistake. Sorry to all you 'wiking' metal fans, but this is one stupid silly contrived bullshit band.
The best.. Celtic Frost playing in Melbourne many years ago was great, Vader where I lost my vision temporarily from headbanging too hard, and seeing Loits playing in Estonia / Tallinn. Ulver at Brutal Assault was also very epic.
I'd like to thank DoctorDeath so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Anyone with any kind of interest about the visual side of the metal genre should head over to tshirtslayer.com and take a look.