Trustkill Records, an American independent, now iconic record label started as a hardcore punk fanzine in April 1993 and kicked off its operations in 1994. Six years later the label’s owner Josh Grabelle moved on with his new label Bullet Tooth Records, and this year Trustkill is back in social media with some unique memoirs from the past, including a bunch of classic galleries (see below) and a brand new website that’s hopefully an exciting sign of new things to come.
For all of you not acquainted with the label, check out the recent tribute video from Finn Mckenty of The Punk Rock MBA and scroll down to see the amazing photos just shared by Trustkill, their recent Spotify Playlists and some more details about the legendary label.
This article is being regularly updated as more photos becomes available. Last update: October 21st, 3 PM CET.
In 2007 Rick from This Is Hell was all “Yo man I got this other band that’s basically just breakdowns with me screaming over it. You’ll love it.” He was right and we put out the Soldiers album “End Of Days” later that year. Promo photos by Matt Gorton. Dudes went on to form Extinction AD, Incendiary, and Stray From The Path.
From the Trustkill archives > Poison The Well’s first two shows in Syracuse, NY in 1999 at No Borders and Westcott Community Center. All photos by @erinelizabethbradshaw
From the Trustkill archives > Most Precious Blood at Hellfest 2002 at the NY State Fairgrounds. Photos by John Mckaig.
From the Trustkill archives > Bedlight For Blue Eyes first photo shoot in Berkeley Heights, NJ in 2005.
From the Trustkill archives > Throwdown at Armory High in Syracuse, NY on January 1, 2001. Photos by John Mckaig.
From the Trustkill archives > Walls Of Jericho at Hellfest 2000 in Syracuse, NY. Photos by John Mckaig.
From the Trustkill archives > Despair in 1995 from Syracuse and Buffalo and more. Photos by John Mckaig, Josh Grabelle, and others.
From the Trustkill archives > Memphis May Fire photos from 2007 by the legendary Mark Weiss, a display at Tower Records in Tokyo, and some early coverage in Kerrang!, Rock Sound, and Big Cheese magazines.
Were you on the Trustkill Street Team? Did we send you boxes of stuff to post up around town? Here’s some coverage in Denver, Philadelphia, and St Louis in 2005. #Throwdown #BulletForMyValentine #ItDiesToday
From the Trustkill archives > Eighteen Visions at Showcase Theater in Corona, CA in 1999.
From the Trustkill archives > Hopesfall at Hellfest 2003 at the NY State Fairgrounds. Photos by John Mckaig.
From the Trustkill archives > Fight Paris photos by Jeremy Saffer in 2005. A-T-L-A-N-T-A:
From the Trustkill archives > Walls Of Jericho at Brian Heck’s house in Syracuse, NY in 1999.:
From the Trustkill archives > Shai Hulud at The Garage in London in 1999. Photos by Matt Cabani. #SetYourBodyAblaze:
In the mid 90s I LOVED Copper from Buffalo, NY. and saw them play probably 100x.
My band Campfire played a few shows with them and bassist Garret Klahn (pre TITR) hopped in our van for a weekend trip to DC and they also played my basement in the summer of 1995. When they broke up and singer Meaghan Ball started Idle Hands I jumped at the chance to sign them to Trustkill. We released an EP in 1999 (“Treaty”) and an album in 2000 (“Building A Desert”) and I booked them on Hellfest 2000 with high hopes. The band flipped their van on the way to Hellfest and wrecked everything and had to fly to Syracuse. They played to a packed festival and then quickly broke up afterwards due to the van accident. These are promo photos we never got to use for anything.
From the Trustkill archives > Eighteen Visions at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA in 1999.:
In July of 2000 we released the “Trustkill Family Tree” CD compilation in Europe through Good Life Records featuring all the newest tracks. The original plaque I scanned in for the cover was a personal gift created by the one and only Mike Ski.:
From the Trustkill archives > Bleeding Through in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, NY in 2002. Photos by the legendary and handsome @joeldowlingphotography:
From the Trustkill archives > Open Hand at Hellfest 2003 at The State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY. Photos by John Mckaig.:
From the Trustkill archives > Nora at The Pine Room in Oakville, Ontario on October 28, 2000. Photos by Travis Derouin.
From the Trustkill archives > Most Precious Blood’s debut album “Nothing In Vain” dropped in November of 2001 and NYC was never the same again. These are the original photos I used to design the album.:
From the Trustkill archives > Walls Of Jericho in San Francisco on August 16, 2000. Photos by Travis Derouin.:
From the Trustkill archives > SeventyEightDays (ex – Chokehold) in Erie, PA in 1998. Photos by John Mckaig.:
In 1999 I asked Shai Hulud to record a few songs for Trustkill for a split release. Matt Fox sent me these photos to use for the layout and then a few weeks later called me to say “Hey man, don’t use those photos cuz Chad quit to play for his pop punk band.”:
From the Trustkill archives > Turmoil “The Process Of” 12” from 1999 and the original photos (and Tetsujin 28) I used to design the album. Pics by Danielle Dombrowski and John Mckaig:
From the Trustkill archives > Eighteen Visions at Armory High in Syracuse, NY in 2001. Photos by John Mckaig.
The original photos of Brother’s Keeper and One King Down that I used to make their 1997 US summer tour poster.
From the Trustkill archives > Nora at The Rotunda in Philadelphia on March 25, 2001. This was the Spangenberg wedding show with Brother’s Keeper and Earth Crisis)
Poison The Well signing contract with Trustkill Records:
“In 1999 I signed Poison The Well to Trustkill and released “The Opposite Of December” album in 2000. I was in Syracuse in my 2nd year of law school and Matt Fox from Shai Hulud called me from a studio in Florida to tell me about this new PTW album they were recording and how it sounded awesome. (kinda like Marvin Berry calling his cousin Chuck about this “new sound” in Back To The Future) I ended up chatting with the band, heard the songs, and soon afterwards they came up for a weekend of shows and we hung out. This photo is from Erie, PA (pretty sure) where they handed me the signed contracts.”
From the Trustkill archives > Hellfest 2000 photos used on the DVD/VHS (Shai Hulud, Walls Of Jericho, Eighteen Visions, Hope Conspiracy, Brother’s Keeper, Bane, and Idle Hands)
From the Trustkill archives > Walls Of Jericho at “No Borders, No Boundaries” in Syracuse, NY in 1999. Photos by John Mckaig.
From the Trustkill archives > Nora at Hellfest 2003. Photos by John Mckaig.:
From the Trustkill archives > Racetraitor in Syracuse, NY in the late 90s. Photos by @danielledombrowskiphotography:
From the Trustkill archives > Eighteen Visions at Hellfest 2000 in Syracuse, NY. Photos by John Mckaig:
From the Trustkill archives > Hopesfall at Armory High in Syracuse, NY in 2002. Photos by John Mckaig.:
From the Trustkill archives > Throwdown in Orange County circa late 90s. Legendary photos by @davemandel:
From the Trustkill archives > Another Victim from Syracuse, NY circa late 90s. Photos by @danielledombrowskiphotography & @joshgrabelle:
From the Trustkill archives > Eighteen Visions “Until The Ink Runs Out” album art from 2000. (TK29):
Trustkill Records, by Ronen Kauffman:
You ever hear the one about the guy who went to law school but decided not to practice law, and instead run a punk and hardcore record label?
Josh Grabelle fell in love with punk rock when he was 13. In college he began putting on hardcore shows in the basement of his parents’ New Jersey shore home, quickly growing it into a must-play DIY show space for touring bands. In 1994 Grabelle started a fanzine called Trustkill – and music began moving even more toward the center of his life. He put on countless shows, joined a band, toured the U.S. and Europe with other bands, and gathered experience behind the scenes of a burgeoning independent music industry. It turned out that Grabelle had a number of skills and talents that served him well in this new and dynamically changing music industry – from marketing and graphic design, to an ear for what people like – and he wanted to see just how far it could all go.
In 1998, as he began law school at Syracuse University, Grabelle turned Trustkill into a record label – and the rest quickly became essential knowledge in the story of heavy music. Throughout the early 2000s, Trustkill Records helped launch the careers of heavyweight artists like Poison The Well, Eighteen Visions, Most Precious Blood, Terror, Throwdown, Walls of Jericho, Bleeding Through, Hopesfall and Bullet For My Valentine among many more. Trustkill dominated independent rock, showing up not only in basements, clubs and concert halls around the world, but at Ozzfest, Warped Tour, Hot Topic, MTV, The NY Times, and everywhere in between. By the time Trustkill stopped putting out new music in 2010, the label had sold an incredible 2 million albums worldwide. Grabelle never did get around to practicing law – metal and hardcore were way more fun.
When Trustkill closed its doors in 2010, Grabelle carried his same vision, work ethic, and eye for what’s next into Bullet Tooth – a new home for the next generation of loud bands. But the template set by Trustkill remains essential to the story of loud rock music, and its influence can be seen around the globe today – in contemporary bands and record labels that learned how it’s done, at least in part, by watching a kid from New Jersey. Trustkill Records leaves a decade-plus legacy of not only helping to sustain independent punk and hardcore music, but helping to move it forward.
And the future? Yeah – there’s that, too.