A bruising post-hardcore outfit with ties to At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta, Sparta exploded out of the Lone Star State in 2001 with a sound that combines the righteous fury of hardcore and the cacophony of art-punk with the accessibility of modern rock. Debuting in 2002 with the punitive Wiretap Scars, the band went on hiatus in 2008 but returned to the stage three years later. They released their fourth full-length effort, Trust the River, in 2020. Despite having undergone numerous lineup changes throughout its tenure, Sparta has remained a vital voice of the genre.
When artful post-hardcore group At the Drive-In disbanded in March 2001, co-founder Jim Ward (vocals/guitar) immediately started working with bandmates Paul Hinojos (guitar) and Tony Hajjar (drums) under the Sparta moniker. El Paso native and Belknap bassist Matt Miller joined the band several months later. Within a year, the punk-inspired four-piece had a deal with Dreamworks, and in March 2002, released the Austere EP. Five months later, Sparta issued the full-length, the neck-snapping Wiretap Scars. The band returned two years later with the ambitious Porcelain, which added a full string section to the mix, and North American tours followed into 2005. In May of that year, the band announced the departure of founding member Paul Hinojos, and before year's end, ex-Engine Down/Denali guitarist Keeley Davis was added to the lineup. A deal with Hollywood followed in early 2006, resulting in the dark and complex full-length outing Threes that same year. Ward also recorded with El Paso poet Bobby Byrd for the 2006 collaboration How Will We Know When We're Dead.
From 2008, Sparta took a three-year "nap," during which Ward focused on his alt country project Sleepercar. They got back together in 2011, undertaking a short tour and releasing a new song, "Chemical Feel," as a free download, but sessions for their fourth album were put on hold when At the Drive-In reunited for a short tour in 2012. The following year, Sparta went on hiatus again. ATDI toured in 2016, but this time Ward was unceremoniously replaced in the lineup by Davis. When Sparta reconvened in 2017, Davis and Hajjar did not return; they were replaced by the band's former touring guitarist Gabriel Gonzalez, and ex-Cursive/Beach Slang drummer Cully Symington, respectively. Over the next couple of years, the band worked on a new album, sporadically releasing songs like "Graveyard Luck" and "Cat Scream." In early 2020 they signed to Dine Alone for the release of their fourth album, Trust the River, which arrived later that April. ~ MacKenzie Wilson & John D. Buchanan
ORIGINEl Paso, TX