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Sleepercar rolls into town

Members explore new country rock sound on debut album, West Texas



Who: Sleepercar

When: Sunday, Sept. 7, 9 p.m.

Where: Garfinkel’s

Admission: $10 in advance, $12 at the door

Anyone who has heard the progressive, unconventional rock stylings of Sparta or At The Drive-In may be surprised to hear that their singer/guitarist, Jim Ward, has moved on to start a new alternative country rock group, dubbed Sleepercar.

Ward and the rest of the Sleepercar crew — Chris Heinrich, Matthew Schmitz, Gabe Gonzalez, Greg Sosa and Clint Myers — just started out the last leg of the promotional tour for the band’s first album, West Texas , on Monday.

They’re heading to a few stops along the west coast of the S`tates before they make their way north of the border to play gigs in British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba, and luckily for us, they’re hitting Whistler on the way.

While West Texas may only have been released in April, it certainly wasn’t a spontaneous effort. Rather, Ward lovingly assembled the album over a period of four years, while he was still a member of Sparta.

“For quite a while, it’s been sort of a part of me, and I just kind of took my time making sure that I developed it in my own way, and not just sort of mimicked things that I liked,” Ward said, explaining the slow cultivation of the album.

“…It’s more a labour of love than really thinking about a career or making a living or anything like that.”

But the outcome was well worth the wait.

“When I was done, I definitely was like a proud poppa,” Ward said of the 11-track album, featuring Fences Down, which was the first song he wrote for his side Sleepercar project while at one of the final shows of At The Drive-In.

The project was also a bit of a family affair — Ward got his dad, Jeff Ward, to play bass on the album.

“He kind of always has ultimate say because he’s the dad, he can put his foot down,” Ward said with a laugh. “…He also treats me with a tremendous amount of respect.”

Sleepercar’s alternative country rock sound is definitely a departure from the heavier rock of Ward’s former bands; both are pretty hardcore in comparison to this new sound. But Ward explained he wanted to have a chance to expand into different genres, pointing out that as a writer, he wanted to keep his work fresh and have a bit more freedom.