Forgotten Songs of the 21st Century: Sparta
When at-the-drive-in disbanded suddenly in 2000, people were left scratching their heads and asking questions like, “What the hell are these guys going to do now?” The first ones out of the gate with new projects were Tony Hajjar, Paul Hinojos and Jim Ward with the powerful Sparta. Just over a year later, Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez came out with the Mars Volta, which everybody who was anybody jumped on and proclaimed one of the greatest bands of the 21st century. After that happened, Sparta were left behind and had to struggle for every bit of attention they received which is more than unfair because in my opinion, The Mars Volta are one of the most overrated bands of all time. But anyways, Sparta came out first in 2002 with The Wiretap Scars and one of the greatest debut singles of all time, “Cut Your Ribbon.”
Beginning with a great drum intro courtesy of Tony Hajjar, frontman Jim Ward launches into a diatribe against a nameless person basically saying that he or she is responsible for breaking everything down around them in order to make themselves better. The line, “anything, everything, how can you sleep at night, as it falls apart” is particularly damning and could very well be pointed at Omar or Cedric. Regardless of that, the song is still amazing and the band sounded different than any post hardcore band that was out at the time. Overtime, the band have been looked at as forbearers of the future screamo sound but that is completely unnecessary because unlike screamo bands, Sparta were able to bring great melodies into the mixture that made them different.
Ultimately, it may have been some of these differences that resulted in the band’s inability to break through a la The Mars Volta. After two more records with ever diminishing returns, the band went on hiatus in 2007 from which they have yet to emerge. But as more people discover and share the band’s music, then the band’s legacy can continue to grow and prosper.