Monday, April 6, 2009

Jay Laughlin - Turning Point part II

Turning Point at Kennett Square, Photo: Sue Cosby

Here's part two of our extensive interview with Turning Point guitarist, Jay Laughlin. We're also currently talking with Turning Point's bassist, Nick Grief, so expect to see him chiming in within the near future. Now the curtain falls... -Tim DCXX

Turning Point started with us practicing at Ken's parents' house in Tabernacle, NJ. He had a garage and his parents were totally cool with us making noise and jumping around the place. That became our spot in the early days. Pretty much right off the bat, the idea as far as our “style/sound” was what we were hearing coming out of NY at the time. We definitely were focused in that direction. We were following everything that was coming out, and we had been for a while.

I remember we would drive right to the Philly Record Exchange anytime we knew a new seven inch was being released. I never bought a record myself, because the other guys bought everything and I hung out with them all the time so I didn’t have to. We’d get a parking spot and then Ken, Skip and whoever else was jammed into the car at the time would take off running to the store to try and claim whatever new shit was coming out that week, as they usually only had one or two copies of the stuff we wanted by the time us Jersey kids had a chance to get there. If Ken got the last seven inch, Skip would get so fucking pissed. It was really pretty funny to watch as I just strolled down the street to the store.

We loved the Revelation stuff, the other NYC stuff, straight edge stuff, pretty much anything hardcore and/or punk. We knew what we wanted to do with Turning Point. I knew I wanted to see a TP seven inch on the wall at the Philly record exchange.

Pointless was way more loose and not as focused. We were so young when we were doing Pointless, we actually had a song about why we hated Wawa because it was “way up town”, and another song called “Go To School” about how much we hated going to school! Pretty deep shit. Turning Point was really an idea to go in the direction of stuff we were really digging at that time. It wasn't like we wanted to imitate anything, it was just a natural result of what we were into.

Ken and Jay strike a pose, Photo courtesy of: TP

As far as the song writing went, I would write some guitar riffs on this shitty acoustic guitar I had that was missing the high E string due to the tuning peg being broken, and would bring them into practice and then we would piece the little bits I had into songs as a band. Here was the formula as I remember it at the time: Hit some open chords with some fast drumming so you could jump around, play a riff to the fast beat so Skip could sing, and then slow it down for a second so you could mosh to it. Repeat the whole thing and bang! You had a song. It was that simple.

Of course you could hear the NYHC influence which was definitely going to happen with as much as we were listening to that stuff, but for me personally I have to say one band I was way into at the time and had actually seen live the most was Verbal Assault. I was just trying to do what their guitar player was doing. Out of all the hardcore bands I had seen in those early days he was the one player I thought was really “playing” the guitar, not just smashing some power chords out of a Marshall stack like I was at the time. I wanted to play like him for sure.

We recorded the demo in 1988 at the same studio we used for the Pointless demos. It was in this guy Bill Kribben‘s basement. He was my drum teacher that I started going to in the 5th grade. The guy was a fucking music virtuoso. He’d be upstairs playing classical piano when I’d show up for my lesson and then he'd be downstairs in the studio space playing drums with one hand while jamming the keyboard with the other, then killing the guitar the next minute. He was a pretty way out there guy for a 5th grader to hang out with. He really was some kind of weird genius.

He’d give lessons during the day and he was actually a professional gambler at night: meaning rich people would give him a couple grand that he’d take to Atlantic City and gamble with and take a cut of the winnings. I’m pretty sure he was a card counter and eventually got banned from all the casinos. He used to try and get me into Ti-Chi and meditation too. Looking back on it now, he was probably pretty stoned during my lessons, but who knows. He was an all around awesome guy. He really is responsible for me getting into recording, too.

Turning Point tearing it up, Photo courtesy of: TP

At my lessons he would teach me some weird 5/4 drum beat and all of a he’d strap on his guitar, hit record on his ¼ inch reel to reel and just start jamming with me with his eyes closed, for like ten minutes. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on, but I’d be super stoked when he’d hit play on the tape machine and I could hear my playing come back at me on the speakers. Looking back on it now, they were pretty cool lessons. It was more like a jam session then a “lesson”.

I’ll never forget when we did the first Pointless demo, our guitar player Ed kept hitting the high E sting while we were recording and it sounded shitty so Bill actually put tape on the G, B, and E strings so they would be muted as Ed never played those strings anyway. He was cracking up about it at my next drum lesson. So when Turning Point had enough tunes to make a demo we went straight to Bill’s studio and I’m pretty sure we recorded the whole thing in a couple of hours including mixing - and without tape on my guitar strings.

At the time, I thought the demo was great. We all did and we were pretty psyched on it. The response to the demo was good too. We got a decent amount of orders for it, not tons, but I definitely remember going to the post office quite a bit. It was just a fun thing. I thought Skip's voice was great. He was made to sing hardcore. He was a little dude, but he had a very powerful voice. And for me switching from the drums to being a guitar player was way easy with Ken because he was really fucking good. He was a left handed drummer that played his kit set up for a right handed player and he some how made it work to his advantage.

Our first show after the demo was awesome. It was the Kennett Square show (all the pictures on the TP seven inch are from that show). We had no idea what to expect. We started playing, and everyone knew all the words from the demo, which hadn't been out that long. It was insane. The people running the show were going to try to shut it down, they didn't want people moshing. I have a hard time thinking that some shitty, part time music venue could be shut down due to some young kids jumping around the joint. After the show we were like, "holy shit this is cool! Let's keep doing this!"

A little while after the demo, Steve Crudello came in and joined us on second guitar. He was a good friend of Lee‘s (vocalist on the 2nd Pointless demo). I really liked the idea of two guitars to fill the sound out and make us sound bigger live. Steve was from Ocean City, so he didn't live right near us, but it seemed to work. That was right before we did the seven inch.

Early Turning Point with an X'ed up Skippy, Photo courtesy of: TP

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Philly Record Exchange or Princeton Record Exchange? I picked up many hard to find albums at the Princeton Records Exchange... while I was supposed to be at the Princeton Library around the corner.