Jim Ward is an American musician. A self-taught guitarist and pianist, he is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the band Sparta; he is also a co-founder of the post-hardcore band At the Drive-In, which he formed in 1993 when he was 17 years old. Jim Ward is a legend in the game and has given us decades of rocking tunes, and he has kept this tradition going in 2021 with the release of his first solo album in a decade, “Daggers.”
For Ward, “Daggers” – which he describes as “very from the hip” – was his way of shutting out the outside world, retreating inward and digging his way out via a batch of new songs. It was his version of freedom in 2020. It was also the ultimate release. “For whatever reason it seemed to be super-natural and without a plan,” he says of constructing the LP and almost breathing it into existence.
More than just music or an album, “Daggers” is a part of Jim Ward writing from a place of purity and from a place of real trauma. “We all went through something really scary last year; we all went through this global trauma. Everyone’s life was up ended, and everyone’s life was different from the week before the start of this, and I truly had zero intention of making a solo album at this point in my life. El Paso closed down March 19, 2020 and we naively thought ‘oh we will just go back out on the road in June,’ and then it was July, then it was August. My wife and I own a restaurant, so we were really hit hard by Covid and that is scary stuff knowing you could lose so much. In the middle of this I resorted to old habits, I resorted to doing what feels good to me and that is to make music. So late at night I would write, and a riff turned into a song as I slept. I was just trying to make sense of the world at the time and that turned into an amazing album,” recalls Ward.
It was also a cathartic form of healing: all the pent-up frustration and anger and longing and desperation that Ward, like so many of us, felt this year, came bursting forth via the new batch of songs.
Ward admits that for a not insignificant amount of time, creating music had become a source of anxiety. Yet, in recent years, he has finally found a healthy balance of enjoying music while being fruitful at the same time.
“Daggers” is officially credited as a solo work, and Ward never entered the room with any of his collaborators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet he is effusive in his praise for them: notably the twin team of Incubus bassist Ben Kenney and Thursday drummer Tucker Rule, both of whom took Ward’s guitar riffs and helped propel them into fully fleshed-out songs. “My friends did this for the pure love of making music with a friend,” he says of Kenney and Rule. “There’s no higher compliment. I don’t know how I’ll repay them.”
“There were 100-percent zero constraints,” Ward continues of the back-and-forth musical exchange between he and his two longtime friends that ended up forming the foundation of “Daggers.” “And it was a blast. Without a plan there was zero stress. In fact, it was stress-relieving.”
Daggers is out now and we here at No Cover Magazine highly suggest you give this a listen. We literally live in an era where art is being created in mass by amazing artists and I consider myself lucky for being able to live in this moment.