Sparta taps Philly

Jean Ellen Gismervik

I had the chance to sit down with Sparta guitarist Paul Hinojos when the band came to Philadelphia on tour in support of its latest release, “Wiretap Scars.” The first full-length album from the El Paso, Texas-based band that formed from members of the two now-defunct bands, Belknap and At The Drive In.

“Everything’s new even though we’ve known each other for a long time,” says Hinojos on how Sparta feels different. “I’m playing the guitar now but it’s a new band and a new feeling.”

Jean Gismervik: The one question on everyone’s mind is what happened to At The Drive In?

Paul Hinojos: Two guys quit.

JG: You just made a video for your first single “Cut the Ribbon” off of the new album. Can you tell us about it?

PH: It’s a song about having a guilty conscience and the video is … of this guy who’s driving and not paying attention and runs someone over and leaves and throughout the video he’s having nightmares and can’t sleep.

JG: Should we be expecting it to make an appearance at next year’s VMAs?

PH: I don’t think that they’ll even play it. No, I’ve seen it a couple of times on MTV2. It’s weird seeing it.

JG: What was filming like?

PH: It was cool making a video because we never made one that way with a director … it looked like a movie set. We had the idea and told the director, she did a few of the Coldplay videos and we really liked them, and one for Blur. From there we just talked about things that we liked in the video. We were so excited; we’ve never experienced something like that before. The shoot was at 9 a.m. and we were up at 6 a.m. because we were so excited.

JG: You just did “Craig Kilborn” and will be appearing on “The Conan O’Brien Show” Sept. 25. Which do you like better and who did you appear with?

PH: On Kilborn it’s kind of weird because he’s not there, they just film it to look like he’s coming over and they bring the audience but its all put together later. But with Conan they tape it in order. Last time I was there I saw the guy who played Kramer from “Seinfeld.” It’s so funny because he’s really like that. Oh, and I saw Adam Sandler too.

JG: Which would be your dream bands to tour with?

PH: Definitely Queens of the Stone Age. I’d also love to tour with Coldplay. We’re different sounds but I think that’s a good thing. Like when we toured with Weezer, that’s what we liked about it – that there were three of us and it was all different sounds. None of us sounded the same. It was good.

JG: Now that you are on the verge of becoming rock stars there will be many impressionable teens that will be looking towards your fashion sense for guidance. Are there any trends you would like to bring back?

PH: Those old metal shirts with the sleeves all cut out or the tight pants with the high top Reebok shoes. (Laughs) Nah, just kidding.

JG: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you before?

PH: As a rock band that experiments with keyboards and electronics. Also, I used to work in a steel shop and there were these machines that would punch out patterns in the steel and I’d always be listening to these machines. It sounded like music, it sounded like drums and that’s what I think about when we’re writing some weird loops.

JG: And, last but not least, why shouldn’t we mess with Texas?

PH: Why? (Laughs) Because we’ll kick your ass!