It’s hard for many new bands to truly claim a sense of individuality. The band 30 Seconds to Mars is one exception.
Anyone who has listened to one of the alternative rock radio stations in the Bay area lately has probably heard the band’s latest single, “Attack.” The song is the first track on the band’s new album, A Beautiful Lie, released by Virgin Records on Aug. 30.
Vocalist and guitarist Jared Leto is also an actor and has been in such movies such as Alexander, Girl, Interrupted and Fight Club. Leto’s brother, Shannon Leto, plays drums, while Matt Wachter plays the bass. Tomo Milicevic takes care of the band’s lead guitar.
30 Seconds To Mars opened for Audioslave at the USF Sun Dome Monday night. The band provided the audience with an intense, powerful show to jumpstart the night. Despite the size of the Sun Dome, 30 Seconds To Mars made the audience members feel as though they were getting a private show – a far cry from the usual experience at most arena-sized concerts. An example of this personal contact was Leto’s impromptu stroll through the large crowd of fans. He hopped off stage in the middle of a song and proceeded to sing his way through the crowd. None of the band members missed a beat.
Monday afternoon, The Oracle got to spend a bit of time with the boys from the band and talk about what they’re all about and where they’re headed.
Oracle: A Beautiful Lie is much different than your first album, 30 Seconds To Mars. How would you describe the differences?
Jared Leto: This record is much more wrapped around the heart than it is the head. The first album is very cerebral and obtuse. I think this record is a lot more direct. It’s an album that’s about songs, and it’s a very honest record, I think. It’s very emotional and tangible; the last record was a puzzle, and I think this album is much more immediate.
O: Did you have any idea that “Attack” would become as popular as it has?
JL: No, I had no idea; I threw it out many times. I didn’t think it was good enough, and it just felt – (like) something wasn’t working when we played it together as a band. I knew it was good on its own. Acoustically, I would play it for the guys or play it for myself, and I’d say “There’s something here, there’s something here.” I think we all just needed the time to work the song, massage it-Matt Wachter: Feed it food.
JL: -cut ourselves; grow into it, in a way.
O: Describe what “Attack” was about. What did you mean when you wrote it?
JL: It’s about freedom, in the simplest of terms. (It’s) about empowerment.
O: Can you describe the process of putting the second album together?
JL: The writing of the record was very productive. We had a few sessions at first we called the Brentwood sessions, and there was a frenzy of activity there; there was a lot of productivity. We were playing together for some time, and then I ended up doing a lot of writing by myself toward the end of the album. So I just started going to the studio every day by myself. I would go every single day, and it got to the point where I wanted to write a new song. Every day, I’d want to come in and record a new idea. I started doing that, and it was really good. That’s the time when “A Modern Myth” came up. Shannon introduced an idea that became “From Yesterday.” I remember working on “Attack” and “Killed” and many other songs in Morocco and Thailand. In Africa, “Was It A Dream” and “A Beautiful Lie” were both written in their entirety and recorded down there as well.
O: Where did you come up with the name for the title of this album, A Beautiful Lie?
JL: For a while we were playing with different titles for the album, and we had a couple different things in mind, and A Beautiful Lie had a sense of grandiosity to it. It was a big name with big ideas, and it really worked for the record. I think in a visual way as well, it kind of paints a picture.
O: Who are your musical influences?
JL: God; he’s great on the harp. We’re influenced mostly, I think, aesthetically by bands – whether it’s Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or The Cure – that really have a sense of atmosphere and identity.
O: What do you think is the greatest thing your music offers to the listener?
JL: It can be incredibly powerful for some people. I think at the most it can help propel change, personal change, diversity, community, understanding and education. Or it can simply be the soundtrack for a keg party.
O: Actors turned musicians aren’t typically as successful as you’ve been. With the success of “Attack” and your steady rise to more musical recognition, do you feel like you’ve gotten past that? Or is it still something that you battle?
JL: My brother and I have been making music since we were kids, so we have been aware of this issue for years and years. But I think now it’s nice to have the finger pointed at us in a different way. In a way that people say, “Hey, you guys are actually a legitimate example of someone who has duality in these two different arenas.” So that’s been really wonderful, the fact that people can see beyond all those horrible examples and single us out as a band that has surpassed that.
O: In the wake of the recent burst of success, have you learned any new lessons or had any new challenges come up?
MW: I think with any amount of success there’s always going to be a new set of challenges.
Shannon Leto: Keeping Matt’s ego in check.
MW: I know-.
JL: All he wants is more.(All laugh.)
30 Seconds to Mars plans to release a third album in the future but did not give a timetable as to when it might be recorded or released. According to the band, the focus is on touring for the time being.
Jared did offer an assurance that the band’s third album would again be “a dramatic departure.” Set aside from every other new band by its style, sound and shattered stereotypes, 30 Seconds To Mars is planning to continue producing some of the best, innovative, original music around.