Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The return of Turning Point


Jay with Turning Point at City Gardens, 12/2/1990, Photo courtesy of: TP

Jay Laughlin brings us more on the history of Turning Point in our ongoing coverage of the NJ greats. Put on the discography and dig in... -Gordo DCXX


I was very a normal kid in high school, I wasn't a "punk" outsider. I had plenty of friends and was good at sports. Gym teachers would pull me aside and wonder why I wasn't playing for the high school basketball team. I told them I played music on the weekends and couldn't commit to every game. Music teachers wanted me in the jazz band on drums. Same deal, if you were in the jazz band you had to be in the marching band and play at the Sunday football games. There was no way I could do that and also would never wear that stupid marching band outfit either. But once I started really getting into hardcore, everything fell to the wayside.

I was into skating too. I was friends with all the jocks, but nobody knew what the fuck we were into. Guys would always ask what was up with the hardcore t-shirts, what were they about, but they just didn't get it or care really. But we weren't outcasts by any stretch of the imagination. We were normal kids, we were just really into hardcore.


Jay and Frank at Why Me? Studios, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP

Before we recorded the LP for New Age, we recorded "Insecurity" as a one off, and I think it was at Why Me studios. Steve had recorded there prior with some guy that played an accordian through a Marshall stack so he reccomended Why Me to us. So we went there.

"My Turn To Win" was also from Why Me. We loved that place. We never had a reason to go anywhere else. They got what we were doing, it was close to where we lived, the rates were good, we always had fun there. It was never a thing where we thought we should go elsewhere. Joe was really cool and would let me get on the mixing board and fool around with the levels myself, I was getting into recording and learning things so it was really cool to me. But it happened so fast, we never thought of going other places.

New Age was the only one label to offer us an LP deal. Mike just called me up out of nowhere and said he'll send me $400 and we can record! We were like, "who the hell is this dude?" We thought he was like rich or something! It was a mindblowing thing to me at the time. We hadn't heard a ton about New Age but we knew it was legit. Skip became friends with Mikey Fast Break, he flew out to California to hang out with him and the New Age guy and they would come out east a few times and stay with Skip.


Jay recordings It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn at Why Me? Studios, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP

The difference between the seven inch and the LP was probably from the stuff we were listening to as well as just our own progression in musicianship. I think everyone was getting a little bit better and wanting to challenge ourselves. It was just a natural thing. We were just 4 kids who got together after school and played. There were never band meetings or anything to talk about what direction we wanted to go in. But our sound was naturally developing. I think Embrace and the DC stuff crept in. Plus, I was also still into metal, so Metallica and Slayer was in there too. I would sit and listen to Ride The Lightning and learn every riff in my bedroom rewinding the tape over and over again. So that's where the acoustic guitar intro type stuff came from.


Nick at the YMCA, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP

After the LP came out, we knew Mike (New Age guy) was selling records, we never knew how many, but he definitely sold a decent amount over the years and we never saw a dime. Nothing. He did send us a simple one page contract, and the contract said the LP had to be 30 minutes of music. The LP came out to like 28 minutes or so. So Mike said he didn't have to pay us. He had no problem with the length of the LP when we gave it to him and he went though and pressed it. But when we wanted to get paid he basicly blew us off. They still have the LP for sale on their website!? "Tried And True since 1988." Yeah, right. It was really eye opening. Because up until then, there was a lot of trust there. And this was the first time I realized maybe everyone in HC wasn't so cool.

So yeah, we never saw a penny. It was such an innocent thing, making music with your best friends and getting that music released by your other "friends" and suddenly you realize he's making money off of it and we get nothing. It was such a sour thing. It was typical record label bullshit. We were just like fuck it, whatever. What can we do? Get a laywer and sue? That would have been great, a bunch of kids wearing "It's OK Not to Drink" t-shirts in a court of law! The Judge would have had to tell us that if we had just made the mosh part in "Face Up" 30 seconds longer we would have a case! You would think with all the Metallica I was listening to I would have written some longer songs! I've put out a ton of records since then and the first thing I do is make SURE it's over 30 minutes. But joking aside, it was really fucked and kinda was the begining of the end of the band.

Musically, I wasn't as stoked on the LP as I was on the earlier stuff. I liked it, I still think it sounds OK, but the stuff we did after was much better to me. My older brother Chris did the artwork. He did all of our designs and graphics for everything and still does for all of my projects to this day. That's his hand print in the hand logo on the shirt design. The reaction after the LP - it seemed like we had to work a little harder to get any real attention. It wasn't as immediate as the seven inch days.
 
We never played north of Buffalo or south of DC. Touring was something that never really crossed our mind. I think at most we thought we could fly to the west and play there, but we never really connected the dots. It just seemed a little beyond our grasp money-wise. 
 
After the LP came out we were all still very into HC, but everybody was getting into all different types of music that was coming out at the time. Ken and Skip were way into the Smiths, while Soundgarden and Jane's were really blowing me away. We all loved Public Enemy too. So much so that we started to open our shows with the first verse of "She Watch Channel Zero." We first did it at City Gardens in Trenton NJ and it went over amazing. Everybody knew it. We tried it again in DC and it went over like a wet fart. So all that new stuff was creeping into my guitar playing, and I wanted to learn how to play more challenging stuff.


Ken in the studio with Turning Point recording It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn, 1990, Photo courtesy of: TP

It was around this time that things in the hardcore scene started to get weird for me too. All these different politics started to show up. Vegetarianism and Krishna started to become really big. Don't get me wrong here, I have no problem with tofu or any religion you might believe in, but it just started to become really corny to me. I loved hardcore and I loved playing it, but it seemed like it just got so much heavier and very agenda-driven. I'll never forget one show we played at the Anthrax. We had stopped at a McDonalds right before we got to the club and Ken was eating a Big Mac and fries in the club after load-in and this kid walked up all offended and was like "do you KNOW what they cook those french fries in?" Ken just laughed and kept on eating. It's like, what the fuck is going on here? I don't give a fuck what you eat, why do you care what we eat?

I loved Slayer and always imigined that Kerry King was chomping down on a live goat for dinner. I'm joking, but what the fuck did it matter to me what Kerry King ate for dinner? Dude could play guitar like a motherfucker! And let me tell you this, we used to practice at either Ken's or Nick's house and both of thier parents were always cooking some killer food. I would challenge any hardcore kid to pass up Nick's mom's meatballs! Impossible I tell you. We didn't stand a chance in the vegetarian thing. Same thing started to happen with the Straight Edge part of it. The kids started to get a bit crazy wih it. Wanting to fight all the time. We were straight edge, but I had a ton of friends that drank and smoked and I never wated to punch them in the face. It was a personal choice not to partake myself but I didn't really care what other people did. The whole thing started to get a bit too "serious" for me. I just wanted to play music.


Skip and Jay with Turning Point at the YMCA, 1988, Photo courtesy of: TP

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Henry Rollins ate acid for breakfast? I always thought he was straight edge as well, just didn't come up with the song title?

And that's some funny shit about New Age...2 minutes short on the LP to get paid. What a fucking joke.

JJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
outofstepsince81 said...

Best TP post thus far. I liked the demo, the 7", the compilation songs, the split 7" and the discography songs, but the LP tops it all. The intro is probably my favorite intro to a record ever. They should have made that intro two minutes long, to reach the 30 minute limit. :)

the mosher said...

case in point jay! some people take things too literally. the early stuff is obviously champion, youthful s.e. material, but the later more progressive/mature songs are just magical. they really capture an energy of the time & place of such a great group. few bands from that era had the musicianship or stayin power TP did. thanks for the write up! looking forward to more. great pics in the studio too.

the mosher said...

hey! what happened to jays response to the anonymous user

Anonymous said...

love that why me studio pic. short in front party in the back engineer. no wonder why the TP, 4Walls and MP recordings have hints of metal to them.

Kalle said...

Wow, probably my fav DC post ever.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Wait a hot second! Didn't New Age pay you guys in free t-shirts? What? You wanted money too?

GOOD LIFE RECORDINGS - Belgium. said...

C'mon guys, Hartsfield is a one-man hardcore museum of Schism-shirts...

let him give his side of the story,
please.

Anonymous said...

How do you think Hartsfield paid for his house in Bel Air and his 7-series BMW? I heard the Turning Point LP was his biggest seller...I think it went platinum.

David said...

He sold so many copies, he only needs to charge $1.99 for the "It's Always Darkest..." album now! WOW! House in Bel Air and a 7-Series BMW! You sure could make a lot of cash ripping kids off back in the early days of HC. Wish I started a label back then!

Anonymous said...

skip says something about New Age owing them money on the WNYU live recording.

adam said...

*yawn*...

bitching about not getting paid 15 years after the fact when you could easily contact Hartsfield 10 ways to Sunday at any point since then is just laaaaaaaame.

Mike never had a ton of money and didn't make bank off of any of that shit.

People have VERY selective memories about their bands and their pasts.

Werz said...

What town was Why Me? in?

Jon said...

I always found TP complaining about Hartsfield pretty entertaining. I mean c'mon, what HC band actually got paid regular royalty checks back then? Or any at all?

I will go on record as saying I got a royalty check or two from Mike. And I never actually expected to get paid, so they were a nice surprise...

Mike Hartsfield=good dude

Anonymous said...

Hartsfield-put out some great records, but ripped people off.

then again, who isn't just a bit shady?

Neckdeep said...

I was at the DC when you played your Public Enemy intro. Let me just say that my friends and I were STOKED! We were heavy into PE and that just blew us away. That might be my all-time show. BURN was there as well, that helped.

I'm not sure why people seem to just want to blow off the fact TP didn't get paid. That LP is one of my favorites and to think that all the energy and love we put into it...the guys who made it didn't see a cent. Hardcore, DIY or whatever your indie attitude, that just sucks. Hopefully the Jade Tree discography fixes the situation...

Anonymous said...

During a recent trip home to my parents I found the original photos from the LP that Jay sent to Hartsfield. Mike gave them to me for half toning and they ended up in a box. It's kind of amazing what you can find when you rifle through some old boxes - Mikey Garceau

Anonymous said...

mikey - send to double cross for them to post, im sure we'd all love to see...and it doesnt sound like hartsfield deserves them!!!!!!!!!

GOOD LIFE RECORDINGS - Belgium. said...

I've asked this before and will ask again : I would like to see a post on Shadow Season(post - T.P. awesomeness)

anyone with me ?

Edward

ps : Remembering the victims of 9/11 and their families today !

Mikey Garceau said...

Actually, if Jay was interested, I'd like to send them back to him. Jay, if you'd like the originals, leave word here and I'm sure we can get in contact somehow.

Man, I really don't think I've talked to you since that summer I came to stay with Skip after my high school graduation and we ate pizza fries everyday.

If not, I could send them into Double Cross. They're actual prints though, so they'd have to be scanned. - Mikey

JJ said...

Mikey: I'd love to get those pictures. Just wondering the best way to get into contact. Do you have Tim's email? If so he can pass mine along to you. -j