Sunday, July 11, 2010

Turmoil Interview

Philadelphia's, Turmoil's LP from 1999, 'The Process of...' I suppose you could describe as a 'gateway' album for me in terms of becoming more aware of hardcore in America. At a time when the majority of stuff I was listening to was of the RoadRunner Records variety (Machine Head etc)this album really stood out to me for a number of good reasons. At the time for me it was some of the rawest heavy music I had ever heard. It also seemed so real, and so angry. The bands vocalist at the time Jon Gula certainly had a very discernible style that resonated in me strongly. This album still gets heavy rotation at my residence, and I don't think that will ever change. A new album with new singer Nate Johnson has been on the cards for a good three or four years now. Who knows if it will ever happen. I preferred Gula anyway. I've not posted an interview on here in a long long time. I still have a load of records to post about, but I'm feeling exceptionally lazy tonight, and taking photos is way too much of an effort, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to post one of my oldest interviews with the band. To be honest with you, I'm actually kind of surprised I haven't posted this interview earlier really. Some of my questions tend to lean towards the nooby side, but gimme some cred, this is verging on five years old, penned in a time when I still thought everything was great in the world. LOL. This appeared in TheSharpEndZine #2. This is an interview with one of the bands guitarists, John Hodges.

Your back after five years. What are the reformed Turmoil's motivation and plans, ie what made you want to get the band going again? What happened in the meantime, other bands you were in etc?

We were contacted by Ray from Century Media / Abacus about doing a retrospective discography type thing and a reunion show to go along with the release of the cd so that got the ball rolling a little bit but mostly it came out of us wanting to play again together on a more personal level. We’ve all remained friends over the years and our other bands (The Deadly, The Kiss Of Death) played together several times and it was a little wierd seeing my former band mates up on stage without being there myself. So after we got together to talk about this discography and reunion show thing we decided we’d rather try doing it full time again rather than be one of those cheesy reunion show bands that just cashes in on an oppurtunity or fad. So we decided we’d write a couple new songs to put on the discography and try doing it full time again.

In the five years that we weren’t doing Turmoil a couple of us focused on having grown up careers among other things. Gula, Hydro and Gardner started The Kiss Of Death and put a cd out on Tribunal Records, I started The Deadly and we just put out an LP on Pluto Records. I also wrote / recorded an LP with Lickgoldensky and did some tours with them as well. So wev’e been keeping busy with music since ‘the breakup’ and haven’t really lost any steam as far as that goes.

You guys are five years older than you were when you broke up. Has this affected the band in any ways, do you see certain things in a different light, have personal views / attitudes changed within the band during the years you were broken up?

I guess we’ve grown up a little, maybe even mellowed out a bit. Mainly I think we understand that it’s not worth it to let bullshit get to us anymore. I think we’ve matured as musicians a little and we have more things to throw into the hat when we are writing and we’re not afraid to try new things because they may not be ‘hardcore’ enough. We’re trying to write what we like to play and hopefully kids will like it and if they don’t, we’re okay with that too. It’s definately made us a little more selective of the shows we play as well being that we all have serious jobs and all. We just want to make sure that we make the most out of the time we spend on the band and that we don’t resent the decisions that we make.

Would you mind giving some insight into the ‘Hellfest Fiasco’ (in Oz we’re not too farmiliar with that) and things leading up to the original break up?

It’s a long and boring story about Hellfest, but i’ll give you the basic rundown of what happened. Hellfest was to be Turmoils last show and so we were scheduled to headline the night we played. The whole weekend was very unorganized and there were a million problems and last minute venue changes. There were bands that travelled thousands of miles that didn’t get to play that year. So as the night went on things ended up running later and later until the point that when it came time for us to play it was around midnight if not later. All night we had been trying see if maybe another band would switch with us so we could play a full set but no one wanted to because there were tonnes of kids there. So when it came time for us to play we started playing our set and got shut down three songs into it. That was Turmoils last show. Ended in a shitstorm and all of us felt really cheated. To ice the cake also we didn’t get paid a cent and were exluded from the Hellfest dvd for whatever reason. We ende up throwing the rest of our merch from the roof of our van and went home. It was a real bad time and I was sad that it ended like that. The one cool thing is that the kids that did stay and watch us were going crazy and made it fell real good while it lasted. There was a point when we were palying ‘Killing Today For A Better Tomorrow’ that it was just drums at the end of the song and a thousand kids screaming the words. Pretty insane. That was definatelty the highlight of the night.

Turmoil were one of the heaviest acts of the 90’s hardcore explosion and you got quite big as well. A few bands like Converge, Hatebreed and Nine lived on from those days while many faded away, Victory now have more emo than heavy bands on their roster and many ‘hardcore til death’ tattoos have been covered up. In hindsight do you think it was a trend after all?

It’s like they say, the cream rises to the top. The bands that stay together and play uncomprimising, heavy music and put on an energetic live show will always do well. We just played a weekend with Converge and Nine and those bands are great live bands and their records are continually getting better with each release. They havent changed their sound to cash in on the latest trend which is all the scream and sing cookie cutter bullshit that’s flooding the record these days. I don’t think hardcore is a trend at all. It’s only trendy to be the kids that are in and out of it in six months. You’ll always have kids that are band wagon jumpers. You get to see that alot when you tour as much as we have. It’s like each time you come around to a city there’s a new crop of kids at the show. As far as lables go, there are some lables that are more ‘buisness’ minded than others that focus on music they would actually listen to.

What about the scene now? Is there one and do you see yourselves as a part of it or do you feel that all of those scene boundaries should never have existed in the first place? Does that line of thinking (being part of something, ‘true til death’ mentalty) change with age?

There’s definately a scene now. Personally i’m part of an older scene at this point and I don’t go to as many hardcore shows per se unless it’s a band i’m really into. I’ve always been really selective of the bands in the scene that I like anyway. Turmoil is definately part of the scene and i’m sure everything is going to work out for us once we have a record out. The younger kids always end up replacing the old heads as far as hardcore goes. That’s the way it’s always been and probably always will be. I think the thing that changes with age is that you just have more responsibilities in general that come before going to shows. We still see alot of kids that have been into it forever coming out to shows so I don’t really think the mentality changes all that much. It’s just that kids get older like I said before they have other things to think about than hardcore.

What is Turmoil about? Do you have an agenda; do you support certain political views or attitudes or the like, anything besides the music that could / should be affiliated with the name Turmoil?

Turmoil has always been about trying to touch on issues that affect us personally and politically. That and of course challenge ourselves musically. Because after all who listens to a band rant on about politics if they can’t write a decent song? I think we’re all in agreement that the current US administration is probably the worst we’ve seen in our lifetime which is what one of our newer songs (Commander And Thief) is about. I think if there’s one message that Turmoil puts out there it’s do your homework and educate yourselves about the issues going on in the world today and make up your own mind. There are so many people in the media trying to tell you what to think these days. Especially with all of the spin that’s coming out of Washington that it’s hard to get the facts. Like Public Enemy said- don’t believe the hype.

Did you ever have any problems with you label Century Media? If so, what were they, how did that affect the band and what is the situation now?

We did have problems with Century Media before. We didn’t really think that they were

working as hard as we were to make the band successful. Our records had distribution

problems that made it hard for kids to find and they wanted to give up on records

before they were even out a year. It was eventually what lead to the break up of the

band. I’ll say that they’ve come a long way since then and we’re waiting to see what

they do with this release before we judge them. They have some pretty good people

working for them right now so hopefully we can benefit from that.

When are we going to hear a new Turmoil album or any new material? On

what label?

Abacus is putting out a discography with all of our stuff (except the Bad Brains cover)

september 20th. It has three new songs that we recorded in march. We’re pretty happy

with how it came out. It sounds like we picked up right where we left off.

How come you did some dates in Europe / Scandinavia before the reunion show in

your hometown of Philly?

We thought it was a good opportunity to fine tune our live set and get warmed up for

the Philly show. Plus we were excited to get out and see our friends in Europe. At that

point we were still deciding where exactly to have the Philly show also it gave us a little

more time to get tight.

The most influential hardcore countries in the nineties were Sweden and the States.

If Sweden and US hardcore had a fight who would kick who's arse?

Sweden’s a pretty small country compared to the US so I think we’d win just based on

the numbers. But if your talking quality bands per capita I think i’d give it to Sweden.

Alot of good music comes out of that country. I think you can chalk up influential to

oneSwedish band and that’s Refused. I don’t know how many kids were influenced by

The donuts over here. haha.

Your best / worst moments as a band?

Best: there are a million of them. Touring with Snapcase and Earth Crisis. All good

times. The Philly return show was one of the best shows we’ve ever played. For some

reason every time we’ve played Italy it’s been amazing. Playing Munich last new years eve was incredible. Getting to meet Mille from Kreator in Essen was a high point for me. Definitely one of my metal heroes. The ferry ride to Finland with Nine was on i’ll never forget.

Worst moments definitely included Hellfest 2000 and the time Gula tried to murder me at Denny’s. I wasn’t there but there was a time on the way home from Buffalo where the rest of the guys almost froze to death after our van broke down. Getting detained at the Canadian border was hell on earth. Being booked by John Finberg though was probably the worst of all. That guys sucks.

Gayest country you have visited?

Canada for two reasons:

1) We were denied entry once and they made us sleep in the freezing cold van until immigration came and fined us an incredible amount of money. 2) The time we actually did get into the country we were robbed in front of the El Mocambo in Toronto and a tonne of our merch was stolen. We also found out the same night that one of the three Canadian shows we had booked was cancelled. Needless to say we drove home after the first show and said fuck Canada the whole way home.

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