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Rock Band Sparta Restless to Cover New Ground

Cleveland – Less than a year after rock band Sparta’s latest Geffen album, “Porcelain,” hit stores, singer/guitarist Jim Ward is feeling reflective about the past and rebellious about the future.

“I felt like there was a momentum that for some reason has been lost,” Ward told Billboard.com. “I’m not a fan of looking back and saying what could have been. And to me, it’s really only about the music. I’ve never based anything on sales or success or how many people you play to or whatever, because I’ve seen different sides of that, and then they don’t equal happiness.

“In fact, the worst I ever felt being in a band was the biggest I ever was.”

For Ward, the past four years have been a whirlwind, beginning with the critical acclaim afforded his previous outfit, At the Drive-In, which eventually imploded. The pieces were quickly picked up with the formation of Sparta, which in 2002 released its punk-inspired debut, “Wiretap Scars.”

Ward says his current desire for creative change stems from hearing live material recorded during last year’s tour, where the band reworked songs, often performing them acoustically.

While those concert tracks could eventually end up on the band’s Web site, and a future DVD release is planned, the members of Sparta have decided to retreat but not regress in terms of the band’s creativity and vitality.

Ward views the band’s upcoming monthlong small club jaunt (beginning April 1 in Austin, Texas) through mostly secondary markets as the beginning of a cycle of intermittent touring, interspersed with recording sessions whenever the material dictates.

Ward says he has the beginnings of a few songs (currently titled after the day they were written: “2/14” and “3/11”) but looks forward to using soundchecks to flesh them out, as well as any ideas brought to the table by other band members.

While he’s currently feeling discord, Ward stresses the members of Sparta, who hope to have an album out next year, are still together.

“The band is totally healthy,” Ward says. “There is nothing wrong with the band at all. It’s things that surround me and it’s just the beginning of me kind of understanding and sort of rebelling against… I don’t know.”

He adds, “I feel like everything that has been built up in me for 27 years is on ‘Porcelain.’ Like, everything I wanted to say up until then was there, and now I want to find something new.”

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