Bobby Marks was sitting in the back of a U-Haul trailer when a light fixture fell and hit him in the head moments after his band mate asked: “Have you ever thought about quitting the band?”
“Yes, I have,” was Marks’ affirmative response.
At that time, Marks was a member of Up Spook Hill, a hard-hitting metal band formed in 1993, whose success didn’t come without an abundance of bad luck and a couple of very prayerful mothers.
These days, Marks and former band mates Dave Cartrette and Greg Hutto are together again promoting their latest venture: a new band named GodStar.
The group is set to perform on Friday at Fresh Brewed Coffee House in Myrtle Beach as Chris Fulmer, formerly of Perfect Tommy and who joined the band in November, makes his debut performance as GodStar’s newest member and drummer.
Recently, Marks and Cartrette sat down to talk about GodStar, what’s changed since their days with Up Spook Hill and what the future is looking like.
Marks said they used to be “Angry, violent and vulgar,” adding, “we weren’t even sure what we were angry about.”
When things started to go down hill, Dave Cartrette was the first to leave because he said “I had bills to pay, my car payment was three months behind and we just weren’t making any money.”
After he left, Marks said, “We got heavier, darker.”
Still, “mom kept praying” and Cartrette added that his mother did the same.
Marks: “I had one of those praying moms who prayed constantly for me to get out of the band, and start going back to church …”
Marks admits that more often than not, the success of the band paralleled with misfortune; they were touring, had a record deal then “every time something good would happen, something bad did, too, like the bus would blow up or the truck would break down, or we played House of Blues and then our drummer quit …”
Did they take any of this as a sign they should give up?
Mark said they were told “it was paying our dues.”
So, they ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ramen noodles and sucked on packets of ketchup while trying to earn their right to happiness through hard work, partying and a nice spattering of suffering.
Finally, after six years, Marks began to realize something: God had other plans for them.
Once he accepted this, he imagined God saying: “I guess I’m almost going to have to kill this guy to get him out of this band.”
Meanwhile, Marks begged his mother to “please stop praying!”
She refused and Up Spook Hill finally broke up in 1999. The quartet went their separate ways, found the Lord and then each other again.
Years after the break up of Up Spook Hill, He and Hutto reconnected and decided to start a new band.
Hutto then contacted Cartrette and invited him to join them.
By this time, Cartrette, like the others, had a family and was trying to live life serving God; he was involved with church activities that included singing in the choir and teaching a class.
Marks laughs and says: “If someone had told me 20 years ago Dave was teaching, I’d have said ‘get him out!’ ”
Cartrette said it took about a year after the three of them met up for things to get rolling again because “Once you accept Christ in your life, suddenly you have a target on your back.”
This proved true when, they added a fourth person who, in addition to doing most of the public relations work and owning a good bit of the equipment they used, was also their drummer.
He left after accepting a better opportunity in Las Vegas leaving them in a déjà-vu kind of state and searching for a replacement.
Now with Fulmer ready to go, they’re all looking forward to sharing their message united as GodStar which is, Marks says: “To spread the word of Jesus Christ and do the right thing.”
Since the band formed, they’ve “played all over the Grand Strand area for outdoor festivals, youth groups and anywhere else they can praise the name of Jesus and, in the summer of 2011, opened for the Christian rock group Petra.”
Marks said of their upcoming gig: “Come out, get jacked-up on some coffee and enjoy the show” adding that he hopes old fans and friends who remember them from places like Rockburger, Kings Road Tavern and Danger Zone will come out, reconnect and see what’s different.
Marks says one of the first things they do now is pray before they play.
He recalls one time when it became obvious their sound was a little “off”, they realized they hadn’t prayed first so they immediately stopped and bowed their heads.
Both Marks and Cartrette agreed the rest of the set went “smoothly.”
Unlike the odd origins of the name Up Spook Hill, which, Marks and Cartrette both explained came from a children’s book left on a table in the old Horry County coroner’s office, Marks said “GodStar came to me while I sat at a traffic light one day. It just popped into my head. I don’t know if it was divine intervention or what, but it stuck.”
What can old fans expect from the new band?
Marks: “It’s similar to the old stuff – in that it’s still kind of heavy metal-ish but it’s all original and our set plays kind of like a roller coaster ride; we start off with acoustics, then some electric and it gets heavier as we go.”
Cartrette adds: “At the end, we do something mellow.”
Marks compares “the mellow stuff” as “Third Day meets Marshall Tucker.”
Eager to tell their tale of transformation, Marks notes that on occasion he has looked around as they’re practicing or on stage and said “it’s kind of surreal that these are the same guys I used to get rowdy with while drinking whiskey and chasing women. Now, we’re all here praising the Lord through our music.
“We used to fight about everything; women, money, you name it.”
Marks: “Yes, that’s exactly what it was. Now, there’s no drama at all. We all get along and nobody stresses if one of us can’t make it to a practice.”
Marks said they are strictly “servants for Jesus Christ” then adds “of course we wouldn’t mind if they if we were asked to tour with a big Christian rock group,” naming Tobymac as a favorite.
Marks still can’t figure out what the old band was so angry about but he’s OK with that now because none of the old ways seem relevant.
Smiling, he said: “Everything happens for a reason.”