Special Guest: Mexicans At Night
Sparta is an alternative rock/post-hardcore band from el paso, Texas, formed in 2001. Founders Jim Ward (vocals/guitars), Paul Hinojos (bassist/guitarist), and Tony Hajjar (drummer) were former members of At The Drive-In.
On March 9, 2006, by way of their official website, Sparta announced a new album, entitled Threes. The album was released on October 24, 2006. The band began headlining a tour in early October 2006 (after shows at Los Angeles’ Viper Room and Troubadour, as well as Chicago’s Lollapalooza) touring with Sound Team, Lola Ray, and As Tall As Lions at various venues throughout the United States and Canada. Two days before the release, the entire album was available for streaming on their MySpace.
Eme Nakia (2006)
In conjunction with the album Threes, Sparta is also releasing a 16-minute short film entitled “Eme Nakia”. The film, the soundtrack for which is performed by Sparta, is about drummer Tony Hajjar’s remarkable personal history, set during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. Hajjar fled at the age of five to the United States, settling in the sprawling west Texas border town of El Paso. When Hajjar was fourteen his “Eme” died after a bout with cancer and his father, who had been distant, left the family. His brother, only 18-years old at the time, assumed responsibility for the family and raised Tony and his sister. The film follows Hajjars early life story, showing his challenges and ending with him in present-day.
The word “Eme” is Arabic for mother, and “Nakia” was the name of Tony’s mother.
In August of 2004, the band released their much anticipated second album, Porcelain. Despite popular belief, none of the tracks are fueled by the loss of Jeremy Ward. Tracks such as “Death in the Family” and “Travel by Bloodline” stem from other personal losses, such as Ward’s grandfather and a close friend. In a 2004 issue of the magazine Alternative Press, Ward describes his feelings towards these events, and how they have affected him. “…he will admit that he hasn’t yet made sense of it, and, perhaps for that reason, there isn’t a song on Porcelain about Jeremy. “I don’t think I’ll ever make peace with that,” he says. After the release, Sparta toured as the opening act for Incubus, followed by their own, headlining tour.
- Live at La Zona Rosa (2004)
- The band resumed writing new material, and on March 19, 2004 recorded a live album at La Zona Rosa. The album had 7 tracks and 6 songs, including two previously unrecorded tracks: “Lines in Sand” and “La Cerca”. The album captured some of the live performance experience, but was not sold in stores and only available as a promotional CD.
u]Wiretap Scars (2002)
In August of 2002, Sparta released their debut full-length album, Wiretap Scars. The album, although not well received by all of the mainstream Post-Hardcore audience, brought well-earned respect and relieved some of the pressure brought on by the shadow of At the Drive-In. The record was deemed a cleaner, more accessible sound than ATDI’s distortion fueled offerings. True to their roots, the opening song “Cut Your Ribbon” was described as “splintering, power-hungry rock”, and other standout tracks such as “Cataract”, “Glasshouse Tarot” and “Mye” were noted for their emotion and “absurdly exuberant melody”. Sparta maintained its underground following with shows at smaller venues throughout North America and Europe. They were also exposed to a wider audience in April and May of 2003, opening several shows for Pearl Jam.
Wishing to continue the rock-based stylings of At the Drive-In, Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos, and Tony Hajjar recruited Matt Miller, a native to El Paso and then bassist of the band Belknap. After scoring a deal with Geffen Records (Dreamworks) in 2001, the band released their first EP entitled Austere in early 2002 under the name Sparta. The EP had mixed reviews, with most believing that the group had talent and the ability, but had yet to find their voice.