Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jay Laughlin - The history of Turning Point continued

Jay Laughlin with Turning Point in DC, Photo: New Age Archives

Long overdue, Jay Laughlin returns to bring us a massive new installment on the history of New Jersey's TURNING POINT! -Gordo DCXX

With the later TP material, it was just the result of the stuff I was listening to at the time. I was really obsessed with trying to become a better guitar player and was wanting to incorporate what I was hearing in bands like Slayer and Death Angel, but still keep it more of a hardcore sound which I was definitely still listening to at the same time. I loved the idea of using acoustic intros and super heavy sounding guitars that were tighter than what was happening in most of the straight edge hardcore stuff. So I wanted to try and get that sound happening. After the LP I just kinda went in that direction. If there is one regret about the LP it would have to be the slap bass that crept into one or two of the songs. Both Nick and I were getting into the early Chili Peppers albums at the time, but when I hear those few moments now it just doesn’t seem to fit. It's not like Nick had to crowbar those little bits in, we all thought it was cool. The funniest thing was a recent ad I saw for a new hardcore band that said “sounds like Turning point without the slap bass!” Pretty funny.

So after the LP we went for a tighter/heavier sound. The whole band was just a lot better at our instruments so we could pull off more challenging stuff. Ken was always a real amazing drummer, but Nick and myself had progressed a lot from the time we started playing together. Skip’s voice had developed and he grew as a singer and a front man. He was just really good at what he did. Sometimes I couldn’t believe that such a huge voice could come out of such a little guy. His voice is great on the later materiel and he also started to write some really good lyrics. I never knew what he was singing until we got into the studio and I could really hear his voice. He was pretty private about his words.

Skip with Turning Point in DC, Photo: New Age Archives

He was a pretty deep guy and really wrote about some real shit happening in his life on the later stuff and I think that’s what made it work so well. He never really handed us a sheet of his lyrics to check out. His main job in the band was to write the words and fit them into the music and he was great at that. He had that serious side to him, but don’t get me wrong, he was a blast to hang out with. He had an amazing sense of humor and was so much fun to be around. The four of us were usually playing music in between laughing at a fart joke, eating calzones, or hanging with our other like-minded friends.

As far as where we fit in with the HC scene and what bands we were cool with at that time, it was pretty limited. We played with Chain Of Strength so we had a little connection with them. We played GB’s record release show at CB’s so they were cool to us, but they were on a different level than us at the time. We were from bumfuck NJ so we didn’t have much connection with the NYC hardcore scene. We didn’t really have any type of scene where we were. It was just the band and a handful of friends. We had to go to Philly to partake in any kind of “scene." As far as a Jersey scene went, I dug Vision, but we never really knew those guys. The one band we were really friends with was Release. We played with them a ton. They were our boys for sure! They were some really crazy cats and a blast to hang out with. I really like Enuf too, but never played or hung out with them. Their demo was amazing. I wore that cassette out for sure.

I really don’t remember when we decided to call it a day. We didn’t have a band meeting or anything. I think we all just felt it wasn’t going to get any bigger and didn’t want to end it on a sour note. I think we would have loved to get to the place of other hardcore band like GB or Judge but that just wasn’t happening. I was ready to do something different. Hardcore had become a bit of a drag. So we booked the final show in Philly. I remember it being really fun. All our friends were there goofing off and going off and it was a great way to end it. The thing I remember most was a girl I had recently broken up with me was at the show and we ended up getting back together after the show so that was a plus!

I always knew I was going to keep playing music after TP decided to split up, but I just wasn’t sure what is was gonna be. The one thing I did know is that I was still going to do something with Skip for sure.

Ken Flavell with Turning Point at the Safari Club, DC, Photo: New Age Archives

I had started doing Shadow Season with Ken right around the time TP was winding down. Ken wanted to start a band so he could sing. I wanted to play drums so we asked Ken’s brother Chris and an old bandmate of Ken’s old punk band Failsafe to join up and started to write some tunes. The crazy thing about Shadow Season was Ken’s vocals. I don’t think anybody knew he could actually “sing!" Here was this great friend of mine that I had never heard even try to sing and we started jamming and this really awesome voice was coming out. I was only in the band long enough to record the seven inch and play a couple of shows. They kept the band together, but changed the style quite a bit from what we did on the seven inch. They did some pretty cool stuff for sure.

I was still wanting to play guitar in a new band and it was around this time that I had run into Sean, the drummer of an old punk band called Misunderstood. My old band Pointless had actually played a few shows with Misunderstood years before, and Misunderstood actually headlined TP’s first live show. So anyways, I bumped into Sean in the parking lot of the Cherry Hill Mall. I said we should start something up and he was game. So it was a no brainer to have Skip sing, and Nick was actually the first bass player for what became Godspeed. Sean and Skip were starting to listen to all kinds of new stuff. Sean was way into the DC stuff and turned me on to SoulSide and a bunch of really cool noisier stuff. Between the two of them I finally broke out of my Metal all-day listening habits. It took a while, but something finally clicked and a whole new world of guitar playing opened up to me.

Nick Grief with a Turning Point sing along in DC, Photo: New Age Archives

Both Shadow Season and Godspeed were a flash. Both bands only played a handful of times. When both of those bands were over I had just bought my first 4-track recorder. It was at this time that the TP reunion gig had come about. If it were up to me that show wouldn’t have happened, but Skip pulled me aside and told me he really wanted to do it and the other guys were cool to do it so I agreed to play it. We got together five or so time to practice and I had to re-learn how to play that style of guitar again. It was like starting over for me. I had lost all my hardcore/metal “chops”! So now it’s a few weeks before the show and we start getting all these people telling us about how “this straight edge crew from VA” or “these crazy guys from Cali” are coming to the show to beat us up and stab us because we weren’t straight edge anymore and other people said we were getting paid some insane amount of cash to play and we were assholes for that. It was really crazy and exactly the reason I didn’t want to play the show in the first place. My girlfriend (now wife) wanted to go to the show, but I told her to stay home.

The show went off with \out any stabbings (!), and nobody was even hurt. As far as the money went, I think we got paid $1200 and the guy paid us right in the open in front of a ton of kids, which was awkward. That breaks down to $300 each. We had finally hit it big man! So the morning after the show I got up to have breakfast with my wife and another couple of friends at our apartment. We got some bagels to make some egg sandwiches. I’m chilling on the couch when my girl decides to use the biggest knife in our place to slice the bagels and that’s when I hear it…a blood curdling scream comes from the kitchen. I run in to find she had sliced one of her fingers to the bone. Blood everywhere. I wrap her finger in a paper towel and head to the emergency room with all my TP reunion booty in hand. Turns out she cut right through the tendons in her finger and had to have emergency hand surgery. I filled out some hospital paperwork and handed over the 300 bucks that I had made less than 12 hours after the show. So that’s where that money went.

Jay with a gnarly blurred jump, Photo: New Age Archives


Where's It Gonna End... said...

The TP reunion was pretty great reunion-wise...there was a small level of bullshit, but not too much and that is the night that Kurt Cobain was found dead. I remember that word of that spread through the crowd and someone announced it and the audience all seemed to start clapping. Strange for sure...I think we convinced Endpoint to jump onto a show in New Haven the next night with Alloy. That next night, Vic Bondi had the best line regarding the recently deceased grunge-hero "Kurt Cobain is dead. You wouldn't be clapping if he was your brother."

Anonymous said...

awesome stuff. totally forgot about this interview with jay and the previous parts.....this is why i love double cross: wake up, get coffee, get online, greeted with sweet turning point interview!

GOOD LIFE RECORDINGS - Belgium. said...

finally a Shadow Season entry !!!

lovin' it !

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Memorial Day is awesome as well. Shadow Season has a definite TP feel to the song writing whereas Memorial Day just has a great passion and pairs well with Skips voice.