I spent some time talking to Mark Starr the last couple of weeks about Salt Lake City’s Insight.
Pioneers Of the SLC Hardcore Scene with a deep meaningful voice Insight are a stand alone favourite amongst Hardcore fans
DR: So Mark, take us back dude… how did Insight Start?
I was living in LA for awhile after high school. After loosing my apartment in LA and struggling to find a place I liked by where I was working. I decided to come back to Salt Lake City. My parents were still there but shortly after moving back I moved in to a house with Brad from Raunch Records. Not only did he have the best record store around he had the best record collection ever! Anyway after awhile Brad moved out and The Unity House started. This is an important time because this is where all of would hang as well as Collin and Tor’s place. Anyway going back if I remember correctly I met Jeremy at a COC show at Alice’s. Which was a club in SLC that would have punk and metal shows. So we talked and they we’re looking for a guitarist/singer for there band. I said I was down. This was the start of Past Tense. They had already been a band with songs. They were more of a DC emo sound. Which I dug but I was more into a hardcore/thrash/metal thing. So I was used to playing that style of music. That’s the style I had already been playing in bands beforehand. I think when I joined Past Tense they had a show with Bl’ast coming up. So I switched to just singing. I remember being stoked to play with Bl’ast because they were a favourite of mine. I remember having a Hamilton on bass at that time. Super nice guy but totally opposite from us. He was more into industrial music.
So we got Jenny on bass and played out with this line up for a bit. So all this time I was living in the Unity House with a high school friend Rob who briefly played in Censored Reality with me in high school. Anyway he was a skater and also straight edge. So he hung out with all these skater dudes. He also introduced me to a lot of edge bands. So did Jeremy. At this time I was drinking and partying like most kids who are not 21 and not living at home. Jeremy I remember him coming by and hanging at the Unity House. He was probably just 16. I also remember meeting his parents and I’m 3 years older then Jeremy (I believe). I had long hair so I’m sure they were freaking out. So again the scene was growing of all of us knowing each other in the skate/hardcore scene. Also Terrance from The Stench was (is still) a good friend of mine. So he also hung out at The Unity House. I remember a lot of house parties that we would play. I may have this wrong timeline wise. I remember Youth of Today came and played. This is when Ritchie was in the band. Well I remember being blown away at the intensity of that show! I just remember probably both Jeremy and I saying that’s what we need to do.
I think Past Tense may have been done by then. I can’t remember. Anyway I’m pretty sure insight started soon after that show. So now Insight is being born. We had Ryan on drums who Jeremy knew from high school. Doug on bass who played in this thrash metal band Death Cry. I can’t remember how we got Doug but we were all friends with a lot of people. So it may have been word of mouth. When we started we still had a DC vibe with hardcore influences. I believe our first show was in Ogden with The Stench. So I feel we were the first band in SLC to have a positive NYC, Boston and DC influenced band. After playing with this lineup we found the real and perfect guys to fill out Insight.
We talked about adding another guitarist. Doug knew Jamie from school. He also came from a metal background. Which was perfect. We also lost Ryan but found Chubba. I think we met Chubba from Gentry (Better Way, Brainstorm, Iceburn, Eagle Twin) or they just hung out with all of us at Collin and Tor’s? Chubba and Gentry were two dudes from Heber City who had a band up there. Which I believe was just those two. So now that’s where I believe Insight starts is with this lineup Jeremy (guitar) Doug (bass) Jamie (guitar) Chubba (drums) and myself Mark (vocals). We played a lot at a place that had skateboarding in a roller rink. I think we gained a lot of our scene from doing those shows. They were a lot of fun.
DR: What was the SLC Punk & HC scene like before Insight started?
Well I’ll tell you if it wasn’t for Brad and Daphne from Raunch Records I don’t think there would have been a scene in Salt Lake. They had the best store and really the only store that carried punk rock records. There was another store but that was always considered a poseur shop. Raunch put on shows and they were the greatest!! To think of Salt Lake having a punk record store but also getting all these bands to come through SLC.
Plus the local bands were amazing!! Having a scene like that saved me in my youth. I moved around a lot. So coming to a place that I knew was super religious was a saving grace for me. My family is not religious so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Found punk rock kids in my neighborhood and they told me about Raunch and the rest really for me was history. I always felt that the SLC scene was pretty United. Unless they’re were skinheads to try and fuck things up. Of course we would get rid of them one way or another. So many stories before Insight. I had a band called Censored Reality. We were a peace punk thrash band. Very influenced by European/Japanese punk bands. Like Discharge, Conflict, Anti-Cimex, Gauze, Disorder. Anyway great times before Insight
DR: You guys pretty much pioneered the Straight Edge HC scene in SLC, how did you guys build that scene?
Well that’s a cool thing to say and thanks for giving us that prop. I feel in my opinion the kids pioneered it. We just happened to start a band that I feel kids needed. If it wasn’t for hanging out with all the friends we had we wouldn’t have a scene the way we did. I mean we weren’t all straight edge when Insight started. It started more as a movement for unity and positive thinking. Also vegetarianism for me. I think as we became stronger as a band so did the scene. Other bands popped up and pretty soon you have this brotherhood/sisterhood amongst the scene. We were all about sing alongs and having the most energy possible. Thanks to Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Youth of Today and Cro Mags. I think we just had an infectious vibe to us and I think SLC needed it. So it grew to more than I ever expected!!
DR: Who were some of Insight’s main inspirations? Who would you liken them to if some one had not listened to them before?
Well as far as the band as a whole. I would say Youth of Today, Negative Approach, Cro Mags, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Slayer. For me as an individual John Brannon, Dave Smalley, Ray Cappo, Barry Hennsler, Roger Miret, Eddie Sutton, John Joseph and Kelvin “Cal” Morris. Well I feel you need to go back and listen to Negative Approach, Necros, Minor Threat, SSD, DYS, COC, Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, 7 Seconds, Discharge. Nothing obscure just bands that are important.
DR: Who came up with the legendary Tiger artwork?
I found that on an animal rights flyer/brochure. I think it may have been a PETA brochure. I still have it. I should look for it. I’m still a vegetarian and have been for 31 years!! It’s very important me. END THE CRUELTY