Sparta
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Album Releases

Threes
10/24/2006

Porcelain
7/13/2004

The Wiretap Scars
8/13/2002
 
News
Sparta dates leak
August 25, 2006
A handful of new fall Sparta tour dates have leaked, including a run with Sound Team and Lola Ray from 9/28 to 10/17.

9/1 Popscene (18+) San Francisco, CA
9/3 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR
9/4 Bumbershoot Festival Seattle, WA
9/28 The Glass House Pomona, CA
9/29 Jillians Las Vegas, NV
10/2 THe Conservatory Oklahoma City, OK
10/3 Emo's - big room Austin, TX
10/6 The Parish New Orleans, LA
10/8 Ziggy's Winston-Salem, NC
10/9 Alley Katz Richmond, VA
10/10 Black Cat Washington, DC
10/12 Axis Boston, MA
10/17 Babylon Ottawa, ON

Sparta will release Threes on October 24th. The first single, “Taking Back Control,” will be featured in the highly anticipated video game, Madden '07.

Listen to the track here: Real Audio | Windows Media
 
 
 
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Sparta Drop Off Lollapalooza
June 14, 2004
Sparta have dropped off of this summer's Lollapalooza tour in order to support Incubus from June 24th to August 18th. Here is the itinerary of Incubus dates that Sparta will support:

07/24 Kansas City, MO - Kemper Arena
07/25 Wichita, KS - Kansas Coliseum
07/26 Denver, CO - Red Rocks Amp
08/02 Bakersfield, CA - Centennial Garden
08/03 Reno, NV - Lawlor Center
08/05 Salt Lake City, UT - E Center
08/06 Boise, ID - Idaho Center Amphitheater
08/07 Seattle, WA - Key Arena
08/09 San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion
08/10 Sacramento, CA - Arco Arena
08/11 Fresno, CA - Save Mart Center at Fresno State
08/14 Las Vegas, NV - Thomas and Mack Arena
08/15 San Diego, CA - Cox Arena
08/17 Anaheim, CA - The Pond
08/18 Los Angeles, CA - The Forum
 
 
 
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(2 news stories listed.)
 
Biography
YEAR FORMED: 2001
HOME TOWN: El Paso, TX
MEMBERS:
Jim Ward (vocals/guitar)
Paul Hinojos (guitar)
Matt Miller (bass)
Tony Hajjar (drums)

"I just liked the word Porcelain and what it implied: Something that's really beautiful and durable, but at the same time vulnerable, easily shattered. I like the duality."Given Jim Ward's explanation, Sparta would be hard pressed to find a more appropriate title for its sophomore album. From their childhood days through their formative adult years, the El Paso TX quartet has been surrounded and defined by series of precarious balances and dualities. On Porcelain, these are analyzed, illustrated and in turns celebrated: The stark contrast of affluence and poverty on the band's native El Paso/Juarez border ("La Cerca"), of innocence and its aftermath ("Guns Of Memorial Park," "Death In The Family"), and so forth… Ultimately, the result is a more mature and accomplished voice than on any of the four's previous efforts, one that recognizes the power, as aptly described on "Tensioning," in going from "from a scream to a whisper."Ironically, a crucial path to this forward leap began with Sparta's return its El Paso roots. Porcelain began with writing and pre-production in California's Joshua Tree, progressed to tracking in Los Angeles and came full circle with Ward recording vocals in the band’s native El Paso. “Coming back to El Paso was a big part of this record,” Ward says. “Every morning the route I had to drive to the studio was right along El Paso/Juarez border. That reminded me on a daily basis of the core values I’d lost touch with while obsessing over so many other things.”The re-acclimation to the band’s native environs was accompanied by a radical overhaul of the band’s previous recording techniques. “The recording process for Porcelain was 100% different than Wiretap Scars,” recalls Tony Hajjar. “Mike Major said to us ‘You guys are a great live band and I want to capture that this time around.’ So we spent one day setting up and from there everyone was recording at the same time.”“We were done with the musical framework in twelve days,” adds Ward. “But we had blocked out six weeks for recording. So we put that extra time to use, experimenting and going in directions we’d never dreamt of.”This new approach and subsequent exploration are evident from first guitar cascades of the jagged and beautiful meditation on childhood memories “Guns Of Memorial Park” to the last dissonant notes and harrowing lyrical images of “Splinters.” The band’s sound has been polished by an 18-month acid test of relentless touring, honed both in clubs and theaters packed with the band’s loyal followers and on arena stages shared with the likes of Weezer and Pearl Jam. The latter experience, humbling at first, must have lent Sparta some of the confidence that makes the new record’s material so expansive. On tracks like the more subdued “Lines In Sand” and “Tensioning,” as well as the epic “From Now To Never,” moods, tempos and textures shift and collide over the course of five, six and even eight-minute compositions. While the trademark Sparta urgency remains steady throughout, pleasant surprises abound: string arrangements, more prominent keyboards and electronic loops, and even the band’s first ever love song in the form of “Breaking The Broken” (which has already received an early thumbs up from Rolling Stone). “I’ve always been in bands where you don’t talk about that,” Ward laughs. “But I’m married now and that’s a huge part of my life, so it’s going to be a huge part of my writing.”Porcelain marks Ward’s stepping to the fore as Sparta’s primary lyricist. Where the band had previously collaborated on the words he sang, the decision was collectively made that he would take over on the new record—and it’s one his bandmates are glad they made. “We’re so proud of him, lyrically, vocally, in every way,” Hajjar says. “You read his heart on this record.”Ward’s lyrics, at once elliptic and emotive, come from a unique perspective: the sum of experience of a childhood spent on the border of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, teenage years spent touring the world over, and somehow always being the sole white member of the bands he’s co-founded. “I never even thought about it,” he says. “I never considered myself white or as belonging to any race really. My sister is Hispanic, all my friends are, and I think I’ve had maybe one white girlfriend in my life. The only time it’s ever been an issue is when we’re overseas. Then it’s almost an embarrassment, to be the one who represents the corporate American white male… But hopefully that’ll change soon.”While their friendships stretch back to their childhood years, the origins of Sparta as a band go back at least to 1994. The family tree begins with Ward, Paul Hinojos and Hajjar playing in at the drive-in, which Ward co-founded in 1994, and intersects with bassist Matt Miller's former band Belknap (who actually played at Ward’s wedding). Following the 2001 dissolution of at the drive-in, Ward was contemplating returning to college (he had started prior to ATDI’s non-stop touring/recording regimen), while unbeknownst to him, Hinojos and Hajjar were already conceiving a new band and envisioning Jim as their first choice of frontman.Sparta first emerged in the form of demo versions of "Cut Your Ribbon," "Air" and "Collapse" which went up in spring 2001 on the band's website. Likewise, Austere featured early and alternate versions of Wiretap Scars' "Cataract,” "Mye," and "Echodyne Harmonic" as well as the non-LP "Vacant Skies." Primal as they were, these formative efforts nevertheless helped to build a following almost instantaneously, as fans turned out to watch the material evolve as Sparta made its way from Texas to Iceland and virtually all points in between in its first eight months as a band. Another tour or two later, Ward, Hajjar, Hinojos and the recently recruited Miller were in Vancouver, where work would begin in earnest on Wiretap Scars, the DreamWorks debut LP released barely a year and a half after those first tracks went up on Spartamusic.com.“No one’s to blame for how hard and fast we worked then,” Hajjar says. “We felt it was really important at the time to go at that speed and not look back. In retrospect, it was meant to happen that way.”That said, it’s little wonder that Sparta is already off to a promising start on Porcelain some two and a half months before the record’s July 13 release. On May 1, the band tested its mettle at its most intimidating live show ever: the spot directly before the reunited Pixies and Radiohead’s only U.S. show of 2004 at this year’s Coachella festival. Shedding their jitters within a song or two, Sparta soon locked into the live groove producer/engineer Mike Major strove to capture on Porcelain, quickly winning over the capacity crowd. Capping off a set described by the New York Times as “surging” and “earnest,” Ward exhorted the 50,000 in attendance to make a difference at the polls this November, his white button-down emblazoned with a highly visible red “VOTE.” With warm-up headline dates just behind and ahead of them and a Lollapalooza taking them through the summer of ’04, there may well be an even more productive and successful 18-month stretch of touring in Sparta’s future. Given the early reaction to the triumphant Porcelain, it’s difficult to imagine anything less.