Monday, July 13, 2009

Darren Walters - Hi-Impact / Jade Tree Records with more TP memories

Darren on the road with Turning Point, Photo courtesy of: TP

TP obviously went with New Age for the LP, was this a total bummer?

You have no idea. I felt like I had spent a ton of effort on the band and plenty of time going to shows with them, and of course, hanging out and becoming close friends. My business partner and I really wanted to do the full-length for Turning Point and we were going to banks to inquire about loans and writing out long-hand contracts on legal pads. We were determined to do what we could to secure the record for Hi-Impact, but the reality was that we were still in the process of figuring out how to effectively run a label. And of course at the same time, Turning Point was gaining respect and growing bigger as a band and really pressing us for specifics, for security as one would expect. They wanted to be assured of a future and we were only on our first release, still making our plans for the future.

In retrospect, I don't think that we ever had a chance to release the record, but in the end, I got to release the material through Jade Tree and that has pleased me enormously. I felt like it all came home to rest where it belongs.

What I would realize years later after being in the business is that Hi-Impact were just victims of what many other small upstart labels go through. This band sold well for us, got an offer from a more established label and suddenly, we were not an option for them because we were too small. It's neither here nor there as much as it is a reality of the music business and I don't fault the band for taking the option of releasing the record on New Age.

Turning Point at Club Pizazz in Philadelphia, 1989, Photo courtesy of: TP

What are some good stories from hanging out with these guys? How often was that (living in different states and all)? What type of guys were they?

Great guys, fun guys and it was always a blast to spend time hanging out with them. I live in Delaware and they were in New Jersey, so it wasn't a big deal. Just over an hour drive at the worst. As I said, we spent a whole lot of time hanging out in those days and so most of my memories are very generalized, though here are a few that stick out for some reason:

The Calzone Crew. Eating Giuseppe's amazing Calzone's (Cheese of course as most of us were vegetarians) and talking shit.

Naked Gun / Pet Cemetery movies.

We loved going to movies together. I would go up to Skip's house and watch the band practice. Afterwards, we would eat calzones (Calzone Crew!) and head to the movies or a hardcore show. Near Skip and Jay's houses we were guaranteed to see someone throw soda across the theater or get into a fight, and the movies were usually pretty good too. The more memorable movies were without a doubt, Naked Gun and Pet Cemetery.

Naked Gun:
As a group, we were 100% obsessed with this movie. If one movie defined the Calzone Crew, this was it. We saw it again and again and again and laughed every single time. We quoted it and we loved every aspect of its humor.

Pet Cemetery: We got so scared at this flick and to this day, I still can't figure out how. During the movie we had managed to work each other into a frenzy and as we drove home in the van, we were all panicked about evil cats rising from the dead and creepy kids stabbing us. We sat up all night sacred out of our minds thinking that something out of the night was going to get us. This reminds me of being silly young adults and being innocent enough to still be afraid of what goes bump in the night.

We also used to obsessively watch Yo MTV Raps, Headbangers Ball and Club MTV (Stevo loved the ladies!). Lots of TV watching and making commentary.

The 7" folding parties. The 1st pressing covers and inserts were made for free by these guys in Lititz, Pa and we had to assemble everything so I would throw these 7" folding parties and everyone would get together and we would have food, listen to music and put together the records. This is where we came up with the ideas to write on some of the 7"s (If you have one of these, email me and let me know what yours says) or include two posters and all the silly extra stuff that we did. Hard Karl also got his name during this time, but that is another story.

How did you feel about their progression into the later material? Any favorite songs from the catalog? Favorite release?

The later material was good, though the LP is my least favorite Turning Point release. Don't get me wrong, there are some quality cuts on the full-length, such as Turn It Around, but perhaps I was too stung from the band leaving the label to ever really appreciate it until much later in life and so I prefer the material pre and post LP to any other.

I would, as one might suspect, pick the 7˛ as my favorite release. I am biased of course, but I think this is the apex of Turning Point at that point of their career-the 'youth crew' phase. The compilation material towards the end of their career would be the apex of their 'post hardcore' career.

My fave songs are Over The Line (I always got amped for this song and pitted it up every single time, reunion show included), Insecurity (recorded just after the 7" but prior to LP, for me this song is a moment in time-everyone involved is on this recording in some way and that just makes this cut even better for me).

Broken, I really dig from the later years. This song is perhaps the best combo of the hardcore and post-core TP. This song finds the band finding their sound again. Slap bass!

Behind This Wall is pretty smooth too.

Steve with Turning Point at Kennett Square, PA. Darren mid-mosh with the construction gloves, Photo courtesy of: TP

Stand out show memories?

Kennett Square, PA 7" picture show. This show was amazing. Turning Point had agreed to do the record and we were meeting them to see them play and to take the photos for the 7" (the ones you see on the 1st pressing fold outs and back cover). It was an amazing show and it was local to me, so many of my friends were out (in fact, the back cover photo is still enough of a representation of my group of friends that it hangs in my dining room as a testament to the power of friendship-yes, I am wearing construction gloves). The band was great, the vibe was incredible and we got these amazing shots for the record out of it as well.

CBGB's to Trenton City Gardens in one day. Distance wise it is probably no more than 75 miles, but that day it took hours. Turning Point played a matinee at CBGB's and we had to haul ass to get out of the city during a parade which had shut down the city. As we sat in traffic waiting to get through the tunnel and talking about how amazing it was that Turning Point had just played CB's, we were also talking about how the band would now be blowing their chance to finally play City Gardens. Somehow luck was on the band's side and we arrived at City Gardens just in time for Turning Point to walk on stage and rock the place.

Not a Turning Point show, but I recall all of us going to see Youth of Today in Allentown, Pa or someplace like that and Skip announced an upcoming Turning Point show at the place across town and Ray yelled at him and said that it wasn't cool to do that. Whatever.

Thoughts on reunion show?

I was happy to see it. It was a strange time for hardcore. Kurt Cobain had just died and I don't think that the show carried the relevance that it would have had had it been held just a few years later when hardcore really had a resurgence, especially a few short years later. If there could be one today, I would like to think that the band would we be a major draw and that the show would make the show in 1994 pale in comparison.

Happy with the discography?

Extremely happy with it. It was a dream to do it. For me, it tied up everything about my music career to that point. My behind-the-scenes career started with Turning Point and had it not been for that record, I may have never gotten off of my ass and finally started a label. Had I not done Hi-Impact, I may have never done Jade Tree and ended up where I am today. When I look back and I can pin point the beginnings of my career with the release of that brilliant 7", that's a special feeling. So wrapping that part of my life up with the discography was important.

Turning Point discography cover shot, Photo courtesy of: TP

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