Q&A w/ Turning Point, who are reissuing their entire catalog on Revelation
NJ's Turning Point only existed for three years (1988-1991) and only released one album, a demo, a 7", and a split, but they went on to be massively influential and their music still inspires new bands today. Their increasingly melodic approach to hardcore left a big impact on the increasingly prevalent emo genre in the '90s, and it helped that Jade Tree put out a discography compilation for the band in 2000, just as emo was exploding and bands like Thursday were singing their praises. "[If not for] Jade Tree putting out the discography and giving the band the chance for a much wider audience, I’m not sure any of this would be happening," guitarist Jay Laughlin tells us.
Sadly, frontman Frank "Skip" Candelori passed away in 2002, putting an end to the idea that Turning Point could ever reunite and capitalize on their growing fanbase, but they did eventually play one gig: a headlining slot at This Is Hardcore 2016 with Thursday's Geoff Rickly, Mouthpiece's Tim McMahon, and 108's Rob Fish filling in for Skip. "It turned out to be an amazing show and one of the best ways I could have ever imagined to pay tribute to Skip and the music we made together," Jay said. "A very special and emotional night for me."
Turning Point haven't performed in any capacity since, but their name's been popping up this year. Up and coming Wilkes-Barre hardcore band One Step Closer covered them as the b-side to their new single earlier this year, and Brian McTernan has repeatedly namedropped them as an influence on the debut album by his new band Be Well. Turning Point have just been in the air lately, which makes now a very good time for the band to announce that they're reissuing all of their material on Revelation Records.
Instead of a discography compilation like last time, the Rev reissues will mirror the way TP's music came out in real time. The 1988 demo tape and accompanying merch are out now, and that will be followed by the 1988 Turning Point 7" in a few months, the 1990 LP It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn a few months after that, and then a collection LP with live tracks, their songs from the 1991 split with No Escape, and other non-album tracks that ended up on the discography comp. The individual releases will also finally hit streaming services, which currently only has the one comp.
Pick up the demo and merch from Rev's website, stay tuned for exact release dates on the rest, and read on for our Q&A with Jay about the reissue campaign, the 2016 reunion, Jay's new band Honey, and more...
Revelation Records is gearing up to reissue your full catalog, starting with the 1988 demo tape. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from this project and how it all came together?
Jay Laughlin: So a few years back, Adam Lentz from Rev reached out to me about getting some recently reissued Godspeed records to sell on the RevHQ site. Shortly after he floated the idea of Rev reissuing the Turning Point catalog, not as a discography; his idea was do everything as it was originally released in the late '80s/early '90s. He wanted to recreate the demo, 7 inch and LP as close as possible as they were done back then. Of course we all thought that idea was super cool, so that’s how this all started. This whole project has been a few years in the making with bunch of hurdles along the way, but the plan is to reissue each release one at a time concluding with a 12 inch of all the comp/split/live tracks with a booklet of a bunch of unseen photos and merch to go along with each release that reflects what we had done during that time period of the band. It’s pretty obvious that any hardcore kid in a band back in ’88 would have killed to be on Rev, so even though this is happening some 30 years later, I’m still just as stoked about it as I would have been when I was 17 years old!
Previously, you did the discography compilation on Jade Tree in 2000 and on Think Fast Records in 2005, but this is your first major reissue campaign in a while. Why now for the reissues?
First off, I have to say that if not for Darren and Tim from Jade Tree putting out the discography and giving the band the chance for a much wider audience, I’m not sure any of this would be happening. The TP 7 inch was Darren’s first release under the Hi-Impact label and that is truly how this whole Turning Point thing really started. Just a bunch of kids making hardcore totally DIY style and a fan of the demo deciding to start a label to help release our music for us. So after Jade Tree sold their catalog to Epitaph, we as a band were kind of bummed. It wasn’t our choice, but business is business and we got caught up in that shuffle. Long story short, as Rev was trying to license the TP music from Epitaph for the reissues, our drummer Ken sent a few emails asking about contract details and it turns out nobody, including Epitaph, had the actual contract so the Jade Tree discography -- basically everything we had ever recorded -- was back in our in ownership to do whatever we wanted to do with it. So that’s when this reissue project with Rev really got going.
You did that one-off reunion in 2016 at This Is Hardcore with guest vocalists. What was it like playing those songs again, and seeing a packed crowd go nuts for songs you wrote half a lifetime ago?
I had been asked a few times over the years about doing a reunion show and always said it would never happen. Skip and I met in kindergarten, bonded over our love of Kiss and were best friends from that day until the day he passed. We did and discovered everything in music together. The thought of playing those songs without him just never felt right. It wasn’t until 2015 when an old HC friend, Robby Redcheeks, reached out on behalf of Joe Hardcore about doing TIHC, saying Tim McMahon, Rob Fish, Geoff Rickly and maybe even Civ might be down to do vocals on some songs that kinda got me thinking about actually doing it. It became a kinda 'now or never' type thing for us, so after taking to Ken and Nick a bunch we said “fuck it” and went for it.
This is a funny story about that show I have to share. When we agreed to play TIHC, we absolutely did not want to headline, let alone headline the last night of the fest. Our idea was to play 5 or 6 songs right before Gorilla Biscuits on Saturday night. I met with Joe Hardcore at the venue I worked at 20 minutes before my shift started to talk about it. Joe being Joe, he wore me down in 10 minutes and finally convinced me and the band to headline the final night with the statement of “if the show isn’t packed and people don’t go off you can literally punch me in the face!” Turns out Joe was right and after the first song we played he was standing on my side of the stage and I shook his hand and said “you were right man, thanks!” Thanks to Joe and Robby, it turned out to be an amazing show and one of the best ways I could have ever imagined to pay tribute to Skip and the music we made together. A very special and emotional night for me.
Obviously no one has any idea when live shows will happen again, but do you see yourselves doing a set like that again?
Im always open to the idea of doing another show, but we have no plans as of now.
Turning Point initially existed for just three years, but you've become a huge influence and that continues to this day. Did you ever expect these songs to have such longevity? And what has the experience been like seeing all these artists show love for Turning Point over the years?
To think that a band of four kids from NJ that were just making music in a garage because we just loved doing it has had any type on influence on anybody else and inspired others to make music too is kinda mindblowing and also really cool. I feel like anybody that picks up a guitar or writes lyrics/songs is [doing so] to try and make something that will have some/any kind of impact and be remembered over time. It’s not the initial goal, but when it happens its pretty cool. Skip didn’t write the lyrics he did with any intention other than getting his thoughts and feelings off his chest and into song. The fact that his words resonate with so many people now is really something special for sure.
I think a big reason Turning Point is so influential is because you were mixing together all these different sounds at once, the heavier hardcore, the more melodic stuff, etc. Who were some of your influences when the band was starting out?
NYHC was definitely a huge influence early on. Agnostic Front, Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Breakdown, Cro-Mags. For me as a guitar player I’ll always say the guitarist Pete Chramiec of Verbal Assault was huge for me. He was the first guy I saw live that wasn’t just smashing out power chords and was doing some really cool guitar work but still in a hardcore style. But I was a total metalhead before I discovered punk and hardcore and worshipped Slayer and Metallica and spent a lot of time trying my best to learn every riff I could back then.
At this point, what's your favorite Turning Point song?
"Broken" for sure. I love the music, but Skip's words and vocal take still give me chills to this day.
I recently saw on No Echo that you're now playing in the band Honey. Are any other Turning Point members up to new things musically that we should be aware of?
I'm actually in the middle of the recording of the new Honey LP right now. It's going to be released by Hellminded records in the spring on 2021! I’m back to my early roots with this band, full on crossover thrash metal stuff.
Hardcore has never gone away, but it seems like it's been having a real moment lately. Do you have any favorite newer bands you recommend?
Not because they have covered TP songs, but One Step Closer is definitely my favorite current HC band. They have great songs and the the guitars are rad. I also really dig Primal Rite, super heavy and killer riffs, that shit's right up my alley.
Turning Point drummer Ken Flavell is also the latest guest curator for Revelation Records' playlist series. Listen to his playlist, and check out a few more old photos of TP and the artwork for the demo, 7", and LP...