Ponyboy is a big admirer of Stray Cat’s Collector’s, a Facebook fan page that is dedicated to everything about the Stray Cats, as well as the solo projects of Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker. The three administrators of this page, Slim Jon, Alex Scatman and Robbie Rocker, kindly opened their archives to us, so that we could share them with all of our readers. Jon also has a tremendous website devoted to all things Stray Cats, www.straycatscollectors.com.
PONYBOY: Jon, tell our readers your background. Where were you raised?
SCC: I was born in Avilés, a medium-sized city in the north of Spain. But I’ve been living in Sweden for about three years now. All my family lives in Spain. Fortunately though, my fiancee is living here with me in Sweden. And I work as an English and Spanish teacher at a secondary school.
PONYBOY: When and how did you start getting into collecting Stray Cat’s memorabilia?
SCC: I have always liked the Stray Cats, thanks to my eldest brother, Igor. He’s a musician and I fondly remember him trying to pick out some Stray Cats songs years back. One day we watched the VHS “Rock Tokyo”, and it just blew my head! I was seven or eight years old at that time. Some years later, Brian Setzer toured Europe in 2001. I was sixteen years old, and I went to Madrid to see him. From that moment onwards, I started using the internet to find live recordings. I’ve amassed quite a lot in a very short period of time. There was a time when the people that I traded with had nothing else to offer. Some of the Japanese collectors traded their Japanese releases with me. I had very little money, and those exchanges lasted for some months. Eventually one CD led to a poster, a poster to a magazine…and now it feels never ending!
PONYBOY: You’ve acquired quite the collection. Where do you find it all?
SCC: The first pieces that I had were presents from my eldest brother. He is not a collector. He passed a few Stray Cats singles on to me. Thanks to Ebay, and with patience, I’d say I have found the gross of my collection. I’ve also acquired great items through my good friends Alex and Robbie, whom also happen to be the other administrators to the Stray Cats Collector’s Facebook Fan Page. Trading, as I mentioned before, has also helped. And of course other record shops that accommodate collectors, for example Eil.com, TokyoMusicJapan.com, ViciousSloths.com, and other marketplaces like Gemm.
PONYBOY: Are there a fair amount of collector’s around the world? How does your collection compare or differ from others?
SCC: Yes, there are many. And the gross of the collectors seem to be in Europe. I might be absolutely wrong, but at least in my contact list, most of them are from Europe. I do however have some contacts in the US, Japan and Australia too!
In my opinion, many collectors are interested in different pressings of the same item, particularly vinyl. For instance, the Runaway Boys 7” was released in many countries around the world with the same jacket, but a different catalog number. Many collectors like this. But that’s not my thing. I’m happy with one edition to a single. Unless of course there’s something very different in the design.
I like to have posters, press photos, on stage set lists, magazines with the artists on the cover, guitar picks etc. In my eyes, this is what makes my collection unique, as opposed to having ten of the same single with a different number. I prefer different objects related to each artist. In that case, I would say that Alex’s collection is the most complete. He might lack a few rarities, but he has a lot of ticket stubs, tour itineraries, gutiar picks, posters etc. Basically a more complete collection, englobing a bit of everything that is Stray Cats related, not just a particular aspect. The truth is that if we collected everything, it would be literally impossible to have everything. I guess it’s a way to have a limit or to be more focused on something specifically.
Also, I’d like to add that when we are talking about Stray Cats and collecting, many people only pay attention to Stray Cats and Brian Setzer. Hardly anybody pays attention to Lee Rocker or Slim Jim Phantom. But I do! Their records aren’t too hard to find, but finding memorabilia can be. For me, if we talk about Stray Cats, it is Stray Cats, as well as the three members as solo artists.
PONYBOY: How many times have you seen Stray Cats perform?
SCC: Well, I’ve seen them play in Manchester UK, back in 2004, as well as in Bilbao, Spain in 2008. In Manchester, they reunited to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was a great opportunity for many fans like myself, people who discovered them when they were no longer a touring band. As for the Bilbao show, I saw them perform their Farewell Tour. I’ve also had the opportunity to see Brian Setzer with other projects, like the 68 Comeback Special and The Nashvillians. I’ve also seen Slim Jim Phantom on a few occasions with rockabilly guitarist Darrel Higham. Also, Lee Rocker giving a short concert for a bass showcase.
All those moments are well engraved in my mind. Robbie has also seen the Cats back in 1992, as well as Lee Rocker. Alex has seen them countless times since the early 80’s, until their last projects as solo artists. That’s quite impressive to me!
PONYBOY: And you’ve actually met Brian Setzer, and the other Stray Cats members?
SCC: Yes! Wow, that was quite a moment. I remember meeting Brian in Amsterdam four years ago. Right after the show, we went to the artists entrance/exit area, and waited with other fans. An hour later, Brian came out and approached people who had been waiting. He signed autographs and took pictures as well. I was the last one to get a picture with him. It was mission accomplished! I cannot describe what it felt like, but I actually cried for a few moments. Imagine meeting your idol! It really was something out of this world for me.
I’ve met Slim Jim about three of four times. It was much easier to meet him since he tours small clubs and is much more accessible. He was very nice and I remember a particular time in Stockholm three years ago, when he played a small set with Johan Frandsen of The Knockouts and Johnny Bowler of Guana Batz. After the show, I asked him if we could spend a few minutes talking, and he agreed. I asked him a few questions about some projects that he was working on, and we shared a quick beer. He was fantastic!
To me though, Lee Rocker is the nicest of the three. He was aware of our Stray Cats Collector’s site. When we met, he said he knew who I was and that he liked the website! This was very impressive to me. I hope to come across him at a bar one day, and share a drink together. Ha!
As for my partners, Robbie and Alex, they’ve also met the three Cats.
PONYBOY: Have you seen or heard the recent release of the Stray Cats CD/DVD at Rockpalast?
SCC: Yes! It was already in my hands, since the German release came out a few days ago!
PONYBOY: And what are your thoughts, regarding this release, as a Stray Cats collector?
SCC: These two concerts had been available many years ago, as bootlegs. But having them as an official release is very good. Not just for collectors, but also for mainstream people who enjoy the Stray Cats, but aren’t necessarily collectors. I wish they started releasing more of the TV broadcasted shows, as a DVD, of their other official VHS releases. Fingers crossed!
PONYBOY: What plans do you have for the future, as far as collecting and the site?
SCC: When it comes to collecting, I hope that more Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom stuff comes up on sale, since they’re my main interest at the moment.
Also, with the help of Alex and Robbie (and many other contributors), there a “Tour Archive” section on the website, where we aim to track all the shows played by the Stray Cats, Brian Setzer, Slim Jim and Lee Rocker. We hope to complete it one day!
As for the website, I hope to keep it as is at the moment. I believe it’s complete, informative and regularly updated. But not just with news concerning the Cats, but also with some rarities and photos from time to time.
Thank you very much, Ponyboy, for considering Stray Cats Collector’s for your website. In the name of the three people that run the Facebook site, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!