Former At the Drive In member Jim Ward’s band Sparta will release Trust the River, their first album in 14 years, this week. You can listen to three singles off the record now, below.

In many ways it's not the most ideal time to release an album, with the tour supporting it put on hold, but Jim has stayed busy with his Patreon where he's "sharing loads of fun stuff...so many things are up in the air and I am trying hard to keep this ship moving." Jim's also affected by coronavirus in another way -- he and his wife own an El Paso restaurant, Eloise, and the service industry has been especially hard.

Through all this, Jim is staying positive. We've been asking artists been asking artists what’s occupying their time while staying indoors and Jim gave us one that includes music, books, and more of what is keeping him busy "in this bat shit crazy time." Read that with commentary, below.

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Jim Ward of Sparta - "What I am doing in this bat shit crazy time…"

READING:
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I checked this out of my local El Paso Library shortly before this all started, lucky for me it is about 24,000 pages long so… I should be good on reading for a bit. This is fascinating to read right now -- essentially Lincoln took his rivals from around him post election and built his cabinet with them. It is a real contrast to what seems like the YES people surrounding our current president. It goes deep into each member of his “rivals” and is a great read.

HOUSE WORK:
This has been a good chance to get to all those projects I’ve been putting off. I am a terrible procrastinator and now I really have no excuse -- anything that doesn’t require a trip to the hardware store is getting done, probably.

LEARNING:
I am light years behind social media/technology/etc -- I dabble in Instagram with @jimwardofficial and @spartaband but have now learned how to add some video of me playing songs and I have been learning iMovie and working on my Tidal X skills as well. I love creating things and this has been a good chance to spend the time to learn.

I’ve started doing a Patreon which I am enjoying- the sense of community is uplifting- it’s easy to message with each other and I can sort of dive into my past and share on a deeper level than just social platforms. I think this is going to be fun.

PLAYING:
The new Sparta record has been done for a while and I have been spending the last few months on all the other things that come along with releasing a record and planning tours etc- so I really haven’t been picking up a guitar and playing too much. I have been spending some time in the evenings just learning other people’s songs and remembering some of mine. It turns out "Train In Vain" by The Clash is deceptively difficult to navigate -- such a genius use of chord progression -- reminded me of why they are the only band that matters.

WORKING:
My wife and I have a restaurant in El Paso called Eloise. This is an incredibly trying time for so many industries- and we seem to be in the eye of the storm. We are trying to adapt as quickly as we can- My only goal is to keep as many of our staff as I can making something. I hope by the time you read this we are still fighting but it is brutal.

LISTENING:
J. Robbins - Un-Becoming is a pretty close to perfect record. I have a small turntable setup in my kitchen and listen to this while I cook dinner along with Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance. I tend to obsess on a few records at a time and play them over and over.