A record label in the hardcore realm lasting more than just a few releases is sadly a rarity, but one that has been in existence for close to 25 years is a straight-up anomaly. Founded in 1994, Trip Machine Laboratories is the brainchild of Chris Weinblad, the vocalist of '90s New York metallic hardcore outfit, Atlas Shrugged. Throughout the years, the label has released material from such bands as Mindforce, All Out War, and Jukai.
A one-man operation, Chris tells me about some of the other labels he partly molded Trip Machine Laboratories after. "The obvious labels were definitely Revelation, early Victory and Blackout!, but since I wasn't always on board with their musical choices, we'll throw in the labels the inspired me with their musical diversity: Combined Effort, Wardance, Vermiform, New Age, Gravity, and Ebullition," says Chris.
Chris then tells me about two primary outfits that lit a fire from underneath him. "The two labels that really were the main impetus for me to start the label were Excursion Records and Down Side Records. Excursion had such a diverse lineup and unique packaging. Every release stood on its own but you could see the relationship between the entire catalog. Down Side was my aesthetic mecca...all I gotta say is the Forced Down double 7" and I'm done. Those two labels are really what I aspired to be when I started Trip Machine. I don't think I really nailed it but their inspiration is there."
So, what’s the most rewarding aspect of running his own label? "The best part is building a record from the ground up and really having it take off. It's even better when you didn't expect it. You feel like a proud parent. Then watching that band achieve more and get offers by bigger labels, it's like watching your kid go to college. How about the flipside? "Having releases flop. I've had quite a few just turn into duds. You're now sitting on 300 copies of a 7"/LP/CD and the band has played one show in the last year, or better yet, they broke up. You can't always win."
I ask Chris what Trip Machine releases have done the best for him to date. "All the Trip Machine 1.0 releases did well, selling between 1500 to nearly 2700 copies. Of the 2.0 releases, the best ones have definitely been the Bulldoze CD/DVD and the All Out War 7", both of which I've moved just shy of 2600 each."
What if Chris had to pick one of his releases he feels is totally underrated? "That would be Robots and Empire's Omnivore. I just loved the record. The band is made up of some of my good friends. Sounds great. Songs are awesome. For my standards, I promoted the shit out of it...but it may have been a stretch to the hardcore crowd I cater too. It was hardcore kids doing a Cave In/Failure/Floor type of mix. You can't really finger point to that [laughs]."
Chris tells me about his future release plans for Trip Machine. "The only thing set in stone so far is a split 7" between Miracle Drug and Piece of Mind. As you know, I've worked with Miracle Drug before when I issued their demo as a 7" about 18 months ago. Piece of Mind are from Tulsa, OK and were brought to my attention by Miracle Drug's guitarist Matt Wieder. When they were planning their LP that came out on WAR Records, Matt had said since I couldn't do the LP, maybe we could work on a split with Piece Of Mind down the road. I checked them out and really liked it. They have a total '90s sound, and it reminds me lots of Turmoil.
"Besides that, nothing else is concrete. I've been toying with some other ideas, but nothing is definite." We'll be waiting, Chris.
Check out Trip Machine Laboratories' website to see the label's releases, plus give a like on Facebook.
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