One day, we’ll all have flying cars and mechanical sidewalks will do our walking for us. One day, we’ll find a reliable alternative energy source. One day, the Cubs will win the World Series. And one day, someone will talk about Sparta without talking about its members’ former band, At The Drive In, or the other band to come out of At The Drive In’s demise, The Mars Volta. But today is not that day.
Sparta, who will be playing at Clutch Cargo’s on Sunday, eschews the theatrical sensibilities that former bandmates Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez carried over into The Mars Volta and focus instead on a more straightforward screamo sound, albeit a sound that they pull of better than the majority of bands attempting the same feat. For frontman Jim Ward, who says he “grew up playing in a million punk rock bands,” the only stated goal for Sparta is “to write songs and make albums. For me, it’s the best part of what I do. If I can keep making records, then I’m happy.”
The band recorded its latest record, Porcelain, amid some major-label drama. “Dreamworks got sold. We got the call when we were in the studio, in the middle of making the record. I remember sitting on the couch, finding out that the label’s been sold to Interscope. We’re safe, but 40 out of 60 bands were dropped. Still, there’s a moment where you almost get excited that you might get dropped so you can go and do something else,” explained Ward.
The song writing process for the record was done under one roof. Ward commented, “We decided that we wanted to move somewhere and get away from everything and write, just the four of us, so we all went to Joshua Tree and lived in two houses, one of which had a studio in it. It was kind of like going back to the way things were done a long time ago. It was all about four guys hanging out and playing music together.”
While Sparta has managed to establish itself in the music industry over the course of two full lengths albums and consistent touring, the band is still hounded with questions about At The Drive In’s breakup and the activities of former bandmates which, understandably, irks Ward. “I’m not going to keep doing interviews if it’s all going to be about the past,” he said. “There’s no point in that. I did interviews for that band for a long time. When people don’t want to hang out anymore, they break up. Not very much drama for the world to hear.” As far as the Mars Volta is concerned, “I can’t sit around all day and answer questions about their band, I’m not in their band. I don’t hate them. I don’t really give a shit. There’s no reason to talk about it.”