Sparta/At The Drive In's Jim Ward Debuts New Band Sleepercar
Jim Ward, originally of At The Drive In and current vocalist/guitarist for Sparta, has a new side project called Sleepercar. The new band will release their debut album, West Texas, on Ward's own label, Civil Defense League/Doghouse Records on April 22. A tour will kick off in mid-March at Austin's SXSW.
The first notes of Fences Down were written on a stage in Japan in January, during a moment of solitude at a soundcheck on what would be the final At The Drive In tour. I had been listening to the Old 97's and slowly discovering that some sort of country and rock n roll combination was taking me over.
|Jim Ward - Sleepercar|
I met some new friends who introduced me to the Flying Burrito Brothers and Gram Parsons and I was hooked. I made some half-joking plans to start a country band, but then got distracted by life. At The Drive In ended, Sparta began.
In the fall of 2002 I went in to a west Texas studio to record some demos of the songs that were bouncing around in my head. There at Sonic Ranch I met Chris Heinrich, who was recommended to me by someone, I can't remember now.
Chris was from El Paso, a little younger than me, but was a pedal steel player and that was what I needed. That session led me to finish writing Fences Down and a new song called "Heavy Weights." Over the next four years I would slowly build what is now a record called West Texas.
The original session at Sonic Ranch included my father, Jeff Ward on bass, Gabe Gonzalez on piano, Micah Adams on guitar, and Clint Myers on drums. It was never meant to be a band, it was just a jam, just fun. But I was hooked even more. I wrote some more songs here and there but never thought too much of it.
Then in July of 2005 my friend David Garza convinced me to get a group together to play these songs and open for him on July 4th weekend in El Paso. I recruited Matthew Schmitz to play drums and called Heinrich up to get the songs together.
My dad and my brother-in-law Clay Anderson on guitar filled out the group. After the show, we recorded a more detailed demo to document the progress. With eight songs now and a decent recording, I continued to chip away at the music while on tour with Sparta, or when I was home for a break.
I started the final recording in a second-story loft that houses an ad agency in El Paso—a little at a time. I recorded all my guitars and keyboards and pianos at my own home studio. Again, just chipping away. Heinrich, Gonzalez, and my dad would round out the recordings on guitars, piano and bass respectively.
Additional musicians include six-string guitar and farfisa by Ross Godfrey of Morcheeba fame, and Maura Davis of Denali and Ambulette sings on some songs. We mixed the record at Sonic Ranch with Justin Leeah at the controls.
We have got the line up together for the live shows. It will be Matthew Schmitz on drums, Chris Heinrich on steel/guitar, Gabe Gonzalez, me, and Greg Sosa has signed on to play bass.
-Jim Ward, El Paso, Jan 2008
Sleepercar Tour Dates
03/14/08 Fri The Rio Austin, TX
03/18/08 Tue Galeria 407 Brownsville, TX
03/19/08 Wed The Incubator McAllen, TX
03/20/08 Thu GW's Roadhouse Laredo, TX
03/21/08 Fri Brewster Street Ice House Corpus Christi, TX
03/25/08 Tue Lola's Fort Worth, TX
03/27/08 Thu Golden Light Cantina Amarillo, TX
03/28/08 Fri Monk's Abilene, TX
03/29/08 Sat Jake's Sports Cafe and Backroom Lubbock, TX
03/30/08 Sun Ray's Bar Marfa, TX