Sparta

posted by / Sounds / October 6, 2006

Sparta’s bombing guitars and passionately empathetic vocals collide like a thunderclap. Recorded in an abandoned warehouse among the dusty streets of El Paso, Texas their new record is a telepathic exploration into the rise and fall of emotion — each song escalating raw and uninhibited from beginning to end. With a blitzing live show that will pound you to a pulp, then sweep you to another dimension and back again: Sparta deserves your attention. SURFING caught up with them just before they rocked Dane Reynolds World Premiere party for First Chapter. –Travis Ferr

SURFING MAGAZINE: CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK HISTORY LESSON OF SPARTA?

TONY HAJJAR: Sparta started in 2001 when a few of us came from a band called At The Drive-In. We kind of took our time after that and put out our first record later that year. We’ve been going since then and been fortunate enough to travel the world playing music. Now here we are playing this party, which is our first official private party we’ve said yes to. I’m pretty nervous and excited at the same time.

WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED RECORDING THIS RECORD YOU STAYED IN EL PASO, WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHINDTHAT?

Well, we started writing for this record Threes in January of 2005 while we were still on tour in support of our last record, Porcelain. We ended up canceling the end of the tour because one of the guys had some personal stuff going on and our label Geffen was doing a horrible job so we cancelled some shows. We got the chance to leave the label at the end of the tour, which we did and quickly found ourselves label-less, with a cancelled tour, and we lost a member; it was just one of those months where nothing went right. Then we met Keeley, our new guitarist and in Fall of 2005 we rented a big warehouse in El Paso because it’s really cheap and wrote 27 songs in 2 months. We had never in the bands history been that productive. I think we realized that we needed that little break and here we are with our record coming out in October.

WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR SOUND?

I think lately everybody’s listening to a lot of different stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of Zeppelin, a lot of Who, some Jam type stuff. Then we all like, well, who doesn’t like Radiohead. We grab from all kinds of stuff really.

WHERE DID THE NAME SPARTA COME FROM?

Well, it’s weird we were looking for names and nothing was good. I mean it’s like the hardest thing to do for a band. Jim, (lead singer) had a band a long time ago called Sparta. They had 6 members and only played a few shows. So they broke up and we ended up asking the guys from the band and they were like, “Yeah go for it, we weren’t even serious.” So we took it and I think it fits, I mean the Spartan people were really hard working people and I think we strive to be hard working at what we do.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NEW RECORD THREES?

This is our first record where we never questioned ourselves. We dropped all rules because when you’re in a band, especially a band from the punk scene, you put all these rules on yourselves. And so we just decided to make songs we like. If people like them then that’s cool.

HOW DOES IT FEEL GETTING BACK ON THE ROAD?

We’re excited. We played a secret show a few days ago at the {{{Viper}}} Room because we hadn’t played in 15 months, and it was our first show with our new guitarist Keeley. We needed a warm up for sure, but it turned out way better than we thought. This party is another great thing, and then tomorrow night we’re playing our first show for our fans in LA, and then we’re off to Lollapolooza.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY AS A BAND?

I think with our band, we’ve always been the band that wants to reach out to everyone. We’re not elitist. We’re not a band that thinks were better than any other band or people. We just want to play music. We’ve never made a record for anyone else. We just make songs that we like and we hope people are happy with them. Once you sacrifice that you shouldn’t be in a band.

WHAT’S THE STORY ABOUT THE MOVIE THAT COMES WITH THE MOVIE?

Well, it’s actually based on my life. I basically called the guys last year and was like, “It would be cool to have a short film with the new album.” Anyways, this was all super preliminary talk, then Jim called me and was like, “Let’s base it off of your life.” I was skeptical because I don’t really talk about that stuff, but we decided to go forward with it. We got a budget for it and made a 15-minute short and I think it’s really relevant for what’s going on now. It talks about a lot of the politics that made my family escape from Lebanon. It explains that people had to get out, and it explains that Lebanon isn’t a bad place; it’s just been surrounded by a lot of bad people. It’s a very democratic and westernized, beautiful country. It has that; it has my family leaving a war torn country; my mom passing away. I mean it’s not just about me, and what happened to me, it’s about things that happen to all people.

WHAT IS IT LIKE PLAYING A SHOW LIKE THIS AT A PARTY?There tough. To me this is nerve racking. I mean this isn’t my dream situation, but It’s for a great thing and it’s cool being around all these amazing surfers and skaters and people that are into it, but at the same time it’s a little scary for a band. It’ll be fun, and we’re just going to go have a good time and hopefully play a good show.

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