Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

by James Damion

I recently had the chance to speak to Chris Weinblad of New York’s Trip Machine Labratories. The label and distribution has shed light on some of the lesser known and criminally underrated bands of the past and present. I became familiar with TML’s presence when he gave New York Hardcore band At All Cost’s demos the vinyl treatment. As I gave his site a closer look. I found gems from favorites such as Night Battles, Living Laser and Mindforce and more. Talking with Chris reminds me how important it is to shine a light on those who love and want to share lesser documented gems with others. I also invited Chris to further discuss our mutual love of the Planet of the Apes Universe.

Q: How long have you been running TML and what is your focus and specialty?

I started doing Trip Machine in 1994… stopped in 1998… resumed again in 2007 and I’m still going. Specialty? The main focus has been hardcore of various different sub-genres but I have also put out some indie rock, death metal, space rock and even some electronic music.

Q: How did the idea come about and did you immediately have a method or plan on which you wanted to do things.

I think the idea came about the way so many labels started back in the early 90s, I had a band and we wanted to put a record out. We (Atlas Shrugged) had some interest at points from a weird Euro label or 2 BUT as usual I grew impatient and just said “Screw it, I’m gonna do it” and that was it.

Q: I think everyone that loves music intensely has this dream to start a label and release records. A romantic gameplan for us geeks. Were there many realities that made you realize this might be a hard road? If so, what?

Well I started cooking up the idea in 1993, so remember we had no internet back then. No online resources. I didn’t even have email at that point. So figuring out how to put out a record really happened because I asked various people lots of questions. Mainly via letters. Others through long phone calls. There was a Simple Machine’s guide to putting out records. I think Kent McClard had some articles written as well. It was really trial and error. Just when you thought you were done and had records in hand… then you said “Oh crap…how do I distribute these?”

Chris Weinblad, then and now

Q: What drew you to punk and hardcore? What was your time as a scene kid? Bands, clubs and scenes you might have been involved in?

I guess what drew me to hardcore was being an angry suburban kid. I was always into music and from early on, drawn to stuff that was left of center and at the time I started getting into hardcore I had no interest in what was the popular music of the time, which was hair metal. That was bitch ass music as far as I was concerned. Discovering hardcore was like this moment where it clicked “There are people pissed just like me”.

Although I had been into tons of West Coast and DC Hardcore already, I hadn’t been going to shows because I was too young. My real time to get active in show going etc. was tail end of 1987 beginning of 1988. So my main spots were CB’s, The Anthrax, The Pyramid, The Ritz, City Gardens, Streets in New Rochelle. Basically anywhere NYHC was going down.

I didn’t stop when that style had a lull, I continued going to shows throughout the 90s and all throughout the early 2000s. From basements to bars, I went everywhere. I’d only say within the last 4-5 years have I really slowed down on shows.

Q: The process of releasing a record sounds expensive, detail intense, and time consuming. In the end, what are the rewards?

When you have that finished product in your hands, it’s a nice way to see the wrapped up version of the band’s and your hard work. When a record sells a ton, it’s even cooler.

Q: As a label and distributor, what do you look to focus on? Releasing new material or reissuing music that might have been overlooked and underproduced (As far as numbers.)

Well I’ve never really considered myself a distributor. I’m horrible at it. 85% of my “distro” stock has been acquired through trading with other labels. The other 15% I may have paid for is literally from buying out old labels, distros and band stock. My problem with doing distro is listing it. I have so much stock just sitting in boxes in my office that is not up on my website. For the label, I focus on releasing what I like. Whether it be newer bands or archival stuff. I’d have to say though over the last couple of years my mindset has changed and if this continues on for a longer stretch, I’d have to guess I will become more of an archival label. It just suits me more these days.

Q: The release of certain old demos on vinyl is what first drew me to Trip Machine Laboratories. Yet hearing you might be reissuing Dahlia Seed’s Please Excuse All The Blood blew my mind. How did the concept come about and what kind of extras can we expect.

In a weird way it ties back in with the original run of the label in the mid to late 90s. I had about 3 or 4 7”s planned that actually never materialized. One of which was to be a split 7” between Dahlia Seed and Milhouse. I had been friends with 3/5 of Dahlia Seed since I was 15 or 16. 2 of them were in At All Cost and their guitarist Chris Skelly sang in a local Rockland crossover meets NYHC style band called Selective Outrage…who I worshipped at the age of 15. So I guess I asked one of them when we were hanging out or at a show or something, hey let’s do a split 7” and they were down…it never happened because I think they broke up shortly after.

Fast forward nearly 30 years later, the idea had crossed my mind a few times when thinking of archival projects to do. When I saw Darin (Dahlia Seed drummer) to give him his copies of the At All Cost LPs, I just brought it up. It just blossomed from there. We’ve had some zoom calls and etc and at this point we are gathering stuff to then move forward.

Q: Your fascination with Planet of the Apes. Is there a movie, scene, character you’re most drawn to? How would you rate the movies from first to worst and what’s been your reaction to the remakes. Both the Tim Burton directed and Andy Serkis starring vehicles.

I’m a fan of the original series of movies. My favorites being the first one and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. I think Caesar in Conquest is my favorite character. I’m not a big fan of the remakes. The Tim Burton one was, well, a typical Tim Burton remake, visually amazing but very lacking in the actual story. The newer series has been pretty good but I haven’t been religious on keeping up with them either.

Q: What are some of the ingredients that draw you to vinyl and older recordings?

I guess part of the appeal of doing the more archival thing is I guess you could call it nostalgia. Maybe that’s the term. I think the stuff I’d like to reissue on vinyl just holds a certain love in my mind and ears. It brings me back to a different time and at times makes me feel like a little kid again.

Q: Physical Vs. Digital. Wouldn’t it be easier to just reissue digital files?

I have helped quite a few bands get their back catalog up on digital platforms and will continue to do so. Not everything can be done physically. I ain’t rich over here. I have to be extremely passionate about it in order to invest a good chunk of cash into it.

Q: Reissuing Vs. Distributing. As I made a go through your Trip Machines distribution website, I found a lot of great titles. Does having that material available help finance the cost your reissues?

As I said earlier…distributing is not my strong suit. I’m actually in the process of listing all that I have and just getting the distro out the door. I have so much of it and it is sitting there and I’m not seeing a return. I rather get back what cash I can and then pay for any future projects with that. The future is just focusing on selling that off, selling off old Trip Machine titles and investing that money coming in on projects I’m really passionate about.

Q: Do you see yourself offering downloads to certain items down the road?

Just about all of our vinyl and cassette releases come with digital downloads. Plus a good amount of our catalog is available on our bandcamp for download. I’m always working on getting the remaining titles up there. Downloads are also available through certain streaming platforms as well.

Q: As far as your webstore goes, are there times when you turn down the opportunity to carry something for the risk of not being able to move it? Say someone comes you with a truckload of 25 Ta Life CD’s and the deal of a lifetime?

In all honesty, I’d rather distribute 25 Ta Life CDs then some of the garbage currently in the store. I love me some 25 Ta Life.

Q: What is it that draws you to a recording? Like, what is it that led you to reach out to At All Cost or Dahlia Seed?

Both of them were sort of unfinished business. I mentioned before how Dahlia Seed were intended to have been on the label during our first run. This will rectify that. I’ve often said since the labels inception, that I wished I had started it a few years earlier and was able to release an At All Cost record. I think if we had done a record for them then, it may have pushed them a bit and helped them last longer.

Q: What lies ahead?

I have 2 cassettes in production now. A new one from War Babies, who we have worked with before…expect more NY power violence. Also coming is a cassette for Louisville, KY’s Highway Eyes, which is indie rock from former members of By The Grace Of God, The Enkindels & Miracle Drug. As previously mentioned, there is the Dahlia Seed project. I also have approached another late 80’s NYHC band to reissue their demos on an LP. Fingers crossed that works out.

Check out Trip Machine Laboratories here...

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