An Interview with Jim Ward of At the Drive-In & Sparta

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Jim Ward shoot, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in El Paso, TX. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre

Veteran Alt-Rock guitar hero Jim Ward spent the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic like the rest of us- finding ways to cope and deal with what was happening around him. The manifestation of those ruminations is finally upon us, with Jim’s new album Daggers.

Today, I’ve Jim with us for a chat; among other things, we cover making pizza at home during the pandemic, the recording of his new record Daggers, his early influences, his thoughts on vinyl, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Jim Ward and his new record Daggers, head over to his website and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Jim. Cheers.

Andrew:
Jim, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Jim:
We have been OK, all things considered. There has been a lot of pizza making and guitar playing in my house.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music? More specifically, the guitar?

Jim:
I think that the natural progression of skateboarding to Punk Rock happened when I was 12. A lot of my friends started to play instruments and make noise, and I thought it was about the funnest thing out there.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences? How did you develop your sound?

Jim:
The Clash, U2, Subhumans (UK), Fugazi, Jawbreaker, Jawbox, etc. A lot of Dischord Records stuff, for sure. I think I really love the grey area between Punk Rock and big arena bands like U2.

Photos courtesy of Grandstand Media

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events first. Tell us about your new album, Daggers.

Jim:
I started making songs in August and immediately sent them to Tucker Rule, who sent them right back with amazing parts- then we sent them to our buddy Ben Kenney, who then made amazing additions to the songs. I am super lucky that my friends are both incredible and great friends to play on these songs.

Andrew:
What themes are you exploring on this newest effort? Tell us about the latest single, “Foreign Currency.” What’s the backstory behind that song?

Jim:
I was trying to get my head out of some difficult places during the worst parts of COVID- I needed to make music as therapy. “Foreign Currency” is a good example of that mindset, trying to find the good in a trying time.

Andrew:
How
does your new solo album differ from your part work? How have you grown as an artist? Can fans expect some new sonic soundscapes, or will they be at home with this one?

Jim:
I think that this album really leans back on my early influences. It’s heavier and loads more guitar than the last Sparta album. All these musical journeys are just that, a journey- there is no destination, just roads to travel.

Photos courtesy of Grandstand Media

Andrew:
I wanted to touch on At the Drive-In, which was such an influential band. You chose not to participate in the second reunion. There have been some conflicting reports…could you dive into why?

Jim:
I was kicked out of the band 3 weeks before the tour started in 2016. That’s the story.

Andrew:
How about Sparta? The group’s latest effort was 2020’s Trust The River? Anything new to report there?

Jim:
Nothing new to report right now.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? What are a few of your favorite albums and why?

Jim:
I love vinyl. I love Ronnie Woods Cancel Everything – I love the latest compilation of Joe Strummer songs on LP- I like IDLES a lot!

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Jim:
I love movies and TV- I love playing baseball with our local sandlot team Los Diablitos – I am a terrible athlete, but I really love playing. I like to make pizza at home.

Andrew:
In your opinion, what is the state of the music business these days? Should artists be hopeful? Scared? Both?

Jim:
Artists should make art regardless of the business; it is secondary and, in the end…not very important.

Andrew:
Last one. We seem to be nearing a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of COVID-19 restrictions. What are you looking forward to most in the pos-COVID world?

Jim:
Movie Theaters and tours. 100%.

Jim Ward shoot, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in El Paso, TX. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre

Interested in learning more about Jim Ward? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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