Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jay Laughlin on the complete history of Turning Point


Turning Point drummer Ken Flavell's first band, Failsafe. Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief

I remember way back in 1988 when I was working on my first fanzine, Slew (yeah I know, goofy freakin' name!) and had just gotten the Turning Point demo. Right off the bat I knew I wanted to interview them. Somehow or another I tracked down Jay's phone number and gave him a call to see if he was interested. To my surprise, Jay was down, so I quickly set up a tape recorded with a phone from the other room lying on top of it and ran back into my room to use my phone and do the actual interview. Keep in mind I was was 14 years old and had no experience with doing interviews so I sorta just nervously winged it. I'd have to go back and look at a copy of the zine, but I'm pretty sure the interview was full of the standard interview questions of the day, "Are you straight edge?", "If you were lost on a desert island what 5 records would you want with you?", "Do you skate?"... you know the deal. Anyway, when I finished the interview and hung up the phone, I ran over to the other room to check the tape recorded. To my major dissapointment, the tape had never been taken off of hold. I had just done this half hour interview with the guitarist of Turning Point and the tape was left on hold the entire time! What an idiot I felt like. I ended up writing everything down from memory and printing the interview that way, but damn did I feel stupid.


Jump ahead a year later and I was teaming up with my friend Tony to do and new fanzine called Common Sense. By this time Turning Point were quickly becoming a household name in the hardcore scene. Us coming from New Jersey and Turning Point coming from New Jersey, combined with our love for the Turning Point demo, we knew we wanted to get an interview with them for our first issue. I remember doing the interview over the phone at Tony's parents house. By this time Tony had some suction cup recorder thingy that you could hook up to the phone and get a decent recorded phone conversation, so there was no more lying the phone on top of a tape recorder and crossing your fingers that the volume would be loud enough. We also double checked the recorder and made sure it was actually recording this time. I think most of the band were there on the other line for the interview. I remember them and us getting into some conversation about the movie, The Naked Gun. Those guys loved that movie, as did Tony and I, so we got a real kick out of that. I also remember them talking about their favorite records and YOT's "Break Down The Walls", Cro-Mags "Age Of Quarrel" and DYS "Brotherhood" getting mentioned. That was definitely a fun and memorable interview to do.

Now twenty years later, here we are interviewing Jay one last time. Obviosuly a lot has happened in these twenty years. Turning Point has come and gone, people have changed, some of the members aren't even with us anymore, but one thing is still certain, that demo is just as great today as it was twenty years ago. Aside from that Turning Point went on to release a slew of incredible recordings and eventually, one of the best hardcore discographys to date on Jade Tree Records. Like Gordo and I have done with Jimmy Yu from Judge and Djinji from Absolution, we really intended to do a very thorough and all encompassing interview with Jay on Turning Point. Last Saturday, March 14th, Gordo and I met Jay at his practice space in Philadephia. We sat down and dove in deep. What you'll read here is part one of what will definitely be a multiple entry interview. We're also working on getting input from other members and friends of the band to make this an even more comprehensive entry. So if you're reading this and you were hanging around Turning Point in their hey day, get in touch, we want you to be apart of this. Thanks and I hope the readers enjoy this as much as I know we enjoyed doing it. Also big thanks to Jay for sacrificing a Saturday afternoon to answer our questions, no doubt we appreciated it. -Tim DCXX


Jay Laughlin drumming with Pointless at a South Jersey ramp jam, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief

When I was about 13 or 14, my older brother Chris got a drumset and was into Kiss, and I also got really into KISS around the time of the Dynasty tour. I started playing his drum set a lot more. I was also getting more into metal, since dudes his age were into Slayer. I ended up starting to play with this metal band called Strychnine, and those guys were older than me. Then this kid ended up moving in next door to us, and he showed me a lot of punk, like Dead Kennedys, DOA, etc. That was my start, which would have been around 1985 - I was in 7th grade. I was skating too, so that tied into it. But that kid turned me and Skippy onto it.

Skip and I were best friends, we had been best friends since kindergarten. We both grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey. On the first day of kindergarten I was wearing a KISS shirt. I didn't even know what KISS was at the time, I thought they were monsters, it just seemed cool because my older brother was into it. And Skip walked up to me and said, "do you like KISS?" And I said, you know, something like, "fuck yeah man!" Actually, I think it would have been more like "jee golly yes I do!" And after that we were best friends.


Skip on bass for Pointless at the ramp jam, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief

My first hardcore show was 7 Seconds at City Gardens on the Walk Together tour, Verbal Assault also played, and me and Skippy went with some other people. Back then you had to be 16 to get in, and neither of us were. So we had to lie about our ages, and we were nervous. We were standing there memorizing what date to say so we could get in. I went first and told them the date and I got in. Then it was Skip's turn, but he got nervous and told them his real date, so they didn't let him in. So we're like what the fuck, what are we gonna do? But this girl we were with knew a bouncer, so we got in, and even then it took a lot of convincing.

When we got in we stood next to the soundboard and the place was packed, we were so scared. Everyone seemed gigantic, there were crazy people, skinheads, mowhawks and everything, it was intense. We were just frozen standing there. We had to go to the bathroom really bad and we didn't even wanna move. It was like, "man I gotta go. You still gotta go? Maybe we should go. I don't know, we better not go. You gotta go?" We were so afraid. Finally we just went. Everyone was cool, but we didnt know it. I think halfway through 7 Seconds' set we were like "fuck, we're going up front." And we did.

Even though Strychnine was my first band and I played with them, I was also dabbling with guitar a lot, during breaks at practice and stuff. Then Skip and I started talking about doing something, since we were both getting into punk and hardcore more and more. So I said "let's start a band!" I taught him how to play bass and then I taught this dude Ed to play guitar, and figured I would play drums. At first we would just goof around and play the intro to "We Gotta Know" or whatever. But we kept playing and this would end up being the band Pointless. The guy I took drum lessons from had a set up in his house to record, so we would go there to do stuff.


Ken on drums for Failsafe with Jay in the background, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief

We were young, but we were playing out. Our first real show was at Club Pizazz in Philly sometime in 1987 with Government Issue. It sounds like it should have been a cool show, except the same night at City Gardens was DRI and GBH, so there weren't many people at Pizazz. But it was still cool, even if it wasn't so packed. Overall though, Pointless didn't play too much, I guess kinda due to a mix of things.

We did two Pointless demos. The first one is with Skip singing, the second is with Lee singing. Skip could play bass and sing, but not at the same time. We never played with him singing though, his first time singing in a band on stage was Turning Point.

By 1987 we were totally into hardcore, like full on. We met the guys from Failsafe by them playing with Pointless. We just got friendly through playing, so we knew their drummer Ken, who lived in Tabernacle. From dabbling with guitar more and more, I decided that's what I wanted to play. So me and Skip talked to Ken about doing something. And we also had met Nick through a friend of a friend, he lived in Vincentown and played bass. We all had the same ideas and focus, and we were all on the same page. We decided to get together and do a band - which was Turning Point.


Jay, Skip and Lee with Pointless, Photo courtesy of: Nick Grief

15 comments:

Ben Edge said...

Hell yes.

Anonymous said...

This has greatness of epic proportions written all over. Thanks again double cross. Please don't make us wait to long.

Cheesegrater said...

Real excited to read the next chapter(s). Great work already.

Anonymous said...

amazing stuff. i didn't want the interview to end. can't wait for more!

200lbu said...

...These pictures are amazing, esp. that last one. It looks like they're just playing in the middle of the woods like a bunch of hobos.

Looking forward to Pt. 2 -- TR

Anonymous said...

is it the same ramp RELEASE played on? damn that open air thing must have been huge in NJ :)

can´t wait for the next part.

Brett Hardware said...

Lots of backyard shows in the late '80's.

JD said...

Woah. Pointless pics.
Awesome.

Ben Dredge said...

I wonder what his all time favorite Kiss song is...

Marko said...

Yes. More K I S S!

Ben Edge said...

I wonder what Ben Dredge's favorite all time Hootie & The Blowfish song is...

ERIC SXE said...

This is awesome. I love Turning Point and especially the demo. I remember when I first ordered it from an ad in Open Your Eyes zine (I think). I played that tape over and over for months. I still think that's their best stuff. I can't wait to read the rest of this story. I'm stoked!!

Anonymous said...

Great Photos- Are most of them from the Steve T. Memorial ramp jam in Burlington?

John Duerk said...

As someone who knew little about the hardcore scene beyond listening to records and attending a handful of shows, I dig reading interviews like this all of these years later. Keep up the good work!

jimmy said...

i was there!!!!! -jimmy gb's