Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Record Label Profile: Trip Macine Laboratories. Interview with owner: Chris Weinblad. 2010.



Vista: Hey Chris. Give us some background on your record label. When and why did you start it? Have you made a million dollars on the label yet, or should I ask, how much debt are you in due to the label?

Chris: Well, I started the label some time back in 1994. I started it with the intention of only doing my band, Atlas Shrugged's LP. After doing that first release, I kind of got the bug and wanted to do more. I had friends in bands and well it snowballed. Then around 1998, I gave up. I wasn't interested. Bands I wanted to work with were going with bigger labels which is totally understandable, but it had lost its charm. I picked it up again in late 2006 when I discussed with my old friend Kevin Cea about doing a reissue of the Bulldoze discography, with a bonus DVD. Again, it has snowballed. I'm actually not in debt because of the label...I've learned how to basically use credit companies money to fund my shit without paying interest.



Vista: To date, how many releases have you done?

Chris: We are at 15 right now. We have a bunch of stuff in the works though. I just find myself never wanting to say "no".


Vista: What's going on as far as the label at this point? Also, are you just into CD's at this point? Do kids even give a shit about a vinyl format anymore? What's your take on all of this?

Chris: Well the latest releases are two 7"s. The first is the vinyl version of, The Wrong Side's demo, when they were still known as Dumptruck. The other is a limited reissue of, With Honor's first 7". My label partner Geoff originally put that out as part of Teishu Records. We figured...He had the plates and some left over covers, lets press 125. If there is a need, we will definitely do a ligit press with new artwork and all that. They do seem to play sporadically, so it seems like that will happen. As far as the CD vs Vinyl question, vinyl is on the rise. CD's are a dying medium. I still like them, but it seems like this spoiled generation that expects everything for free would rather find an illegal download. After a few bumps in the road, I've just realized I have to get a feel of what the audience for each particular release are more inclined to buy and go from there.


Vista: Give us a rundown of releases you've done, so far. Also, let us know what's still in print?

Chris: Okay, here goes:
TML - DOSE 1 - Atlas Shrugged  - The Last Season LP {OOP}.
TML - DOSE 2 - Backlash - No Reason Why Not CD {OOP}.
TML - DOSE 3 - Drowning Room - The Divinity Syndrome 7" {OOP}.
TML - DOSE 4 - Atlas Shrugged - We Don't Stand A Chance {OOP}.
TML - DOSE 5 - All Out War - Hymns Of The Apocalypse 7".
TML - DOSE 6 - Atlas Shrugged - Vigilante Songs CD Demo {OOP}.
TML - DOSE 7 - Bulldoze - The Final Beatdown CD/DVD.
TML - DOSE 8 - Robots And Empire - Omnivore CD.
TML - DOSE 9 - Tournament - Swordswallower  CDep.
TML - DOSE 10 - Behead The Lamb - Messiahlation CDep.
TML - DOSE 11 - Dissolve - Caveman Of The Future CD.
TML - DOSE 12 - Robots And Empire - Color Touches CDep.
TML - DOSE 13 - Unforgiven - Last Of The Few 7".
TML - DOSE 14 - The Wrong Side - Dumptruck demo 7".
TML - DOSE 15 - With Honor - s/t 7".

Vista: Are there any releases that you regret? There has to be a clunker in there somewhere?

Chris: I don't regret any of the releases I have done. I'm not saying that to spare feelings or be politically correct. I believe in all the records I have put out. I put them out because of a love for them, for a friendship with the people involved, etc.. Do I think I should have rethought some of them and done smaller quantities? Absolutely!



Vista: I know that every schmuck on earth downloads music to the point that even big-biz record labels have crumbled. What impact has this had on your label and the future of your label?

Chris: Well, illegal downloads have really killed CD sales, especially for a small labels like mine. At first, it upset me greatly. I would find a new release of mine on a blog and go ballistic and demand it be taken down...But I'd have to say now that I've given up. In reality, if that thing was up there for more than 2 or 3 days...Everyone who wanted it has already downloaded it. I don't condone it, but I'm too tired to bother stopping it.

Vista: Which releases are you the most proud of, and why?

Chris: That's tough man! I'd probably say the Atlas Shrugged LP. It was my first and I had no idea what I was doing, but I still got it done. Each release does make me proud in some sort of way. I like looking back at each as an accomplishment for me and the band involved.

Vista: Is there a band you passed on and later regretted it? Who did you pass on that now makes you want to jump off a tall building?



Chris: I never really passed on anyone. More or less, there were those couple of bands that got away. I mean, I was suppose to do All Out War's new 7" before they signed to Victory Records and did "For Those Who Were Crucified". For the amount of time that Trial slept in my basement apartment over two tours, I should have asked them to do a record. I wish I would've asked Dissolve to do something in like 2000 instead of 2008. Hahaha. I came close to doing the Himsa CDep before they signed to Revelation Records. Similar thing happened with the first Living Hell CDep. I did once receive a demo from Down To Nothing before they blew up, but it was the labels dormant stage...I wonder where that tape even is? I missed out, I guess...Oh well guy.

Vista: What release has sold the most? Which release just took the biggest shit and collected the most dust?



Chris: All of the first phase releases did really well, the majority of them between 2,000 - 3,000 copies out there. The second phase has had its ups and downs. The Bulldoze CD/DVD seems to be popular with kids...I guess they get caught up in the tough-guy fantasy. Nothing took a complete shit, but like I stated earlier...CD sales ain't what they used to be.


Vista: People out there might not know that you've had a long running band over the years called, Atlas Shrugged. I know that I've asked you a million times, in our conversations, but are there plans for an Atlas Shrugged discography?

Chris: Yeah, the Atlas Shrugged discography is one of my next projects. We recorded some old stuff we had been working on towards the end of the band and that is getting added. I still need to do vocals on it. I really should push and get that done. I wanted that thing out like three years ago!

Vista: You've been involved in the hardcore scene for a long time. What's your opinion on the scene these days? I like to ask this a lot...IS there even a scene? Also, what's the trend you've seen in the hardcore scene?



Chris: It's been 23 years since my first show at CB's, so yeah, I've seen a lot come and go. At 37 years of age, I don't know what the hell a scene is. I'm not gonna complain and say it sucks. I'm too old to care about the ins and outs of a youth culture, when I'm a few years away from 40. I love my old hardcore and look back on the old times with great fondness. I do like my fair share of newer hardcore, but I'm not following every little detail of what is going on. The internet changed the face of hardcore, or any other underground music genre for that matter and well, what can you do?

Vista: Another question that I love to ask. Give us your top 5 essential hardcore albums of all-time!




Chris: Only 5? You're making it tough buddy...I could break shit down to best NYHC demos, best West Coast records, best Revelation Records releases. But these are what I like to call, the "Top 5 Pure Hardcore Essentials":
Bad Brains - Rock For Light.
Cro-Mags - The Age Of Quarrel.
Negative Approach - Tied Down.
Straight Ahead - Spirit Of Youth.
Raw Deal - Demo.




Vista: Speaking of your band, Atlas Shrugged. Can you give us a brief history of the band? Year started, what releases/demos/compilations you guys did?

Chris: The band started in 1992. We did three different demos at varied times in the bands life span. We did an LP, two 7"s, a split 7", two tape compilation appearances, and three CD compilation appearances. We will have a CD discography out in the Spring/Summer of 2010.

Vista: I think if I'm correct, which I'm usually not. Was your final show with Absolution, in NYC? Also, is the band completely finished or would you still be into doing shows?



Chris: Well our actual last show was in 1997, but we've done reunions in 2002, 2007, and two in 2008, one of which was that show with Absolution. As far as us ever hitting the stage again, it depends on who in the band you ask and what time of the day it is. I always just use the phrase..."Never say never". It is nice to get together with the guys and play, I won't deny that. We're getting older and well, time doesn't always permit for those types of activities. All four of them are still some of my best friends on this earth and I love them.

Vista: Thinking back to the beginning of Atlas Shrugged, what were some goals for the band? Did you even think in those terms, "goals"?



Chris: I don't think the band was ever really goal driven, as far as real deal professional band goals. We just liked playing, we wanted to record, we wanted to pay CB's. I mean, if we had a bit more drive, I think we could have accomplished more...But tis the life of Atlas Shrugged...Wasted Talent.


Vista: I know from seeing you guys so many time over the years that Atlas Shrugged really didn't fit into a mold per say...or should I say, "gimmick" of what was going on in the 90's. I mean, bands that really seemed to get anywhere depended on the following...If you had an "X" on your hand. If you were on a "cool" record label. Or, if you were down with a "crew". It also seemed that if you wrote lyrics about being "stabbed in the back", that made a band "legit"! Ha! My question is, do you think what you guys were doing just flew right over people's heads?


Chris: Yeah, pretty much. Even though the style we did is becoming somewhat popular these days, I still don't think we would've caught on. We are just a bunch of guys who don't care about trends, cliques, cliche shit, kissing ass...etc.. I dunno, we're a bunch of goofballs from the NYC suburbs, we don't have time for that shit.



Vista: As a vocalist, who were your direct influences? Also, as a band, where were you guys pulling influences from?

Chris: I don't know if anyone was a direct influence on me in a way that I wanted to sound like them. I was always told I sounded like Djinji from Absolution, and Chaka from Burn. For the most part, the band got compared a lot to these two bands as well. We started out trying to sound like Voi-Vod crossed with Quicksand...Guess that didn't work out. I mean, when we started I think I was listening to very little hardcore. My favorite bands at that time were probably Black Sabbath, Voi-Vod, Rush, Mind Over Four, and Laughing Hyenas. The other dudes were heavily into hip hop. Big Johnny was into Iron MAIDEN. You know? It was that "growing out og hardcore" time. Some of us found new stuff, some reverted back to the oldies. If I ever had influences, it was more as a lyricist. I wanted to say things in a more poetic manner. I took a lot of influence from authors like, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. One of my favorite lyricist though was always Neil Peart from Rush. Dude is a genius. 



Vista: What was your first exposure to hardcore and what year was that? Which bands really grabbed your attention?

Chris: Real deal hardcore? My neighbor down the block was the guitarist in Underdog. He gave me their 7", in like, I guess 9th grade? That shit sold me on NYHC. Before that, I was a huge English punk/hardcore fan and big into Minor Threat.



Vista: I know you're really into non-hardcore bands as well. What's your top 5 of all-time? Rock, disco, metal, whatever?

Chris: What the fuck is this...A scene from High Fidelity??? Guy...How about 5 CD's I listened to today...
Black Sabbath - Sabotage.
Radiohead - Kid A.
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound.
King Crimson - Red.
Bob Dylan - Blood On The Tracks.


Vista: In your opinion, what was the best time era for hardcore?


Chris: I'll take my NYHC from 1987 thru 1992. That was my prime time. Hardcore was my girlfriend for those 5 years.


Vista: Who's version of the Cro-Mags story do you believe the most? Harley's version or John Joseph's version?


Chris: John Joseph, all the way.


Vista: I know that you are rally into vinyl collecting. What are your top 3 rarest hardcore records in your collection?


Chris: Gorilla Biscuits - 7", first press with black labels.
           Crippled Youth - Join The Fight 7", test-press.
           Major Conflict - 7".


Vista: Chris, thanks a lot for your time for this interview. Final thoughts, contact information, shout outs?


Chris: First of all, thanks to Johnny Vista...For this interview. Geoff Siverman...My label partner and Vanguard Tattoo of Nyack, NY. Check out www.tripmachinelabs.com for all the news on upcoming releases, and our current distro stock. Thanks to everyone for reading. Add us on Myspace: http://www.myspce.com/tripmachinelabs

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