The members of Trunk Rock Records are holding a very serious business meeting. They need to discuss potential bands to join the label, some new marketing strategies, a re-design for the website, and who is going to perform at the next show.
Also, they need to decide who will bring the beer next time, because Brian has a thing against Newcastle.
The friends are gathered in Brian Englishman’s garage, where the idea for Trunk Rock Records was first conceived during a Thanksgiving concert last year that attracted over 150 fans.
“All the bands that are currently in Trunk Rock have known each other for a while,” said co-founder Robin Scheibner. “This is actually disputed [who], but someone said ‘Why don’t we start a record label? We’re already a collective…why don’t we make our own records?”
Thus, Trunk Rock Records was created. Their goal is to be a launching pad for local bands, helping them find shows and network with other musicians in the area. One day, they hope to have the means to provide financial aid, as well as press and distribute records for their artists.
“The New Jersey music scene kind of dwindled for a while,” said Eric Meyes, CFO of Trunk Rock, referring to the post-2000s era after emo bands like Senses Fail got big and moved on. “But right now, there are a few bands that are actually generating some attention. I feel like that’s the first, small wave.”
The acts currently “signed” to Trunk Rock are Average Girl, Big Wilson River (who played at South By Southwest this year), Don’t Upset the Bear, People in Charge and Robbin’ Pain—who present a range from seventies punk to folk music to rock and roll.
“We’re not looking to discriminate against anyone and any style of music,” said Meyers. The common themes among the bands are the “raw energy and power,” as well as the “intent to have fun,” according to Scheibner.
Trunk Rock’s specialty is organizing exciting shows that get crowds moving. “One of the things I hate about concerts is sometimes you’ll be in a crowd and everyone’s just awkwardly standing there shoulder to shoulder [nodding]. It’s just like, come on, loosen up,” said Scheibner. “That’s what’s great about our shows, people have fun, they’re dancing. People know the lyrics so everyone in the crowd is chanting along.”
They’ve already become notorious at Teaneck’s Mexicali Live venue, where they’ve packed the place with energetic fans. Trunk Rock has also held extremely successful shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and will be sending Average Girl to play at Shea Stadium on August 31. Each show is filmed, and can be viewed on YouTube.
In recent months, the label has grown to 24 members as more denizens of the Bergen County music scene become interested, particularly ones with valuable skills like Steve Holder, the group’s webmaster.
However, they are still in the early stages of the company, and have a long road ahead of them.
“One of the challenges is finding people to meet our level of enthusiasm right now,” said Englishman, who hopes to garner more interest in the thriving local music scene.
Lack of funds also presents an issue: “We’re trying to raise money and get started from the ground up, because we don’t have rich daddies that will give us fifty grand to start a company,” said Meyers.
To keep the sound authentic and low-budget, most of the recordings have been do-it-yourself basement style, which allows the group to give away free downloads on their website.
“We really love playing music and we just want a space to put it out there,” said Meyers. “If we fail we’re right back where we are now…at least we’ll be able to look back and say we did what we wanted to in our twenties, and we played with some great bands”
Failure seems far from a possibility right now. In fact, with a newly redesigned website, five upcoming shows this month, and their first official EP due out with Big Wilson River, Trunk Rock Records is just getting started.