30 Seconds To Mars embark on a most unique task with their self-titled debut release, due out in August through Immortal/Virgin. The band recently finished up a U.S. tour in support of Puddle Of Mudd. The trek was the first road test for singer Jared Leto, who, after being in the spotlight as an actor in films like "Requiem For A Dream" and "Panic Room", proved that his band is a project to be taken seriously. This is not the next Dogstar, quite possible, this is the next Pink Floyd. The sonically challenging and atmospheric effort from 30 Seconds To Mars is impressive by any standards and solidifies the band as one of rock's most prolific new bands. Leto recently took time out to talk to Shoutweb about the project.
Shoutweb: How did you choose the name 30 Seconds To Mars? How does the concept of space represent what the band is about?
Jared: After working on this project for so long it's immensely rewarding to hear that people are responding so enthusiastically. For us, the name 30 Seconds To Mars has little to do with space, the universe or anything like that. It is a name that works on several different levels. Most importantly, it is a good representation of our sound. It's a phrase that is lyrical, suggestive, cinematic, and filled with immediacy. It has some sense of otherness to it. The concept of space is so overwhelming and all encompassing I doubt there is a song written that doesn't fall within it.
Shoutweb: Lyrically, conceptually, and thematically, where does the inspiration and emotion for your songs come? Are you expressing personal experiences or are they from a more conceptual perspective?
Jared: Everything on this album is about real human experience. That is the single most inspiring source for us, the human struggle. Lyrically, it's a very personal album that sometimes uses otherworldly elements and/or conceptual ideas to illustrate a truthful personal situation.
Shoutweb: What is the songwriting process for the band? How do the songs begin and how do they develop?
Jared: No two songs are created the same. For the most part, they start with a sound or rhythm and grow from there. It is usually an intense, meticulous, exhausting process that is kind of like a creative hurricane.
Shoutweb: In the first single "Capricorn" you talk about starting over with a brand new name. What is the story and meaning behind the song?
Jared: In a general sense, it is about a desire for renewal. But I'd rather let people take their own understanding and meaning from the song. I think that is one of the exciting things about music, the interpretation, from individual to individual and how it can change so much.
Shoutweb: Are you against appearing in promotional photos because you don't want people to pre-judge the music or because you want to express the band in a different visual sense?
Jared: We don't really have a big problem appearing in photographs. We just want to do our best to preserve the integrity of what we're doing. We obviously have a unique set of challenges if front of us because of my work as an actor and it is important to us to let the music speak for itself.
Shoutweb: Do you find 30 Seconds To Mars as a necessary platform to express who you are? How is it a different experience than expressing emotion and conveying the part of a character in a film?
Jared: For some of us in the band, our involvement with THIRTYSECONDSTOMARS borders on obsessive-compulsive territory. It can be kind of an all-encompassing thing. It is a very necessary part, not just of our expression, but our lives. It is a completely different process than working on a character in a film in a lot of ways. In a film, you are filling in a character that has specific conditions that surround it. You have to follow and encourage the story line. With music, we dictate the story, character, mood and everything else. We create the world rather than just support it. They are both unique and really amazing ways to be able to express oneself.
Shoutweb: How do you find getting in the head of a character and seeing the perspective from their eyes has changed how you choose to express yourself with 30 Seconds To Mars and how you see yourself from the outside looking in?
Jared: I find that I learn and am inspired by all kinds of different experiences in my life. Sometimes, the process of writing THIRTYSECONDSTOMARS material causes me to look from the outside in, sometimes from the inside out. It depends on what my intention is.
Shoutweb: Having recently been on the tour for the first time, with Puddle of Mudd, how was your experience? Did you find yourself connecting with new fans? Was touring all you expected it to be? With your current schedule, how long do you foresee yourself touring on this record?
Jared: Touring with Puddle of Mudd was a fantastic opportunity. To be able to play in front of thousands of people every night was a dream come true for a new band like us. We are really grateful to them for giving us that. They are all really good people and treated us great. The response we got night after night couldn't have been better. People seem really eager for something new and different, and excited by our sound and performance. We met and made a lot of new fans and it's been great to hang out and talk to everyone after the shows. We can feel there is a change happening in music right now, we are glad to be a part of that and we are happy that people are identifying with what we have to offer. We plan on touring as long a humanly possible.
Shoutweb: What are the central themes of "Fallen" (formerly "Jupiter")? What was your perspective when writing this song?
Jared: Generally, it is about escape. It is the oldest of all the songs on the album and, initially, it was not going to be included. There was a demo floating around that we weren't satisfied with but there were some that had strong feelings about this song within the 30STM camp, so we decide to rework it. We're glad we did.
Shoutweb: In "The Reckoning", how does "unity divide and division unite"? That's an interesting paradox.
Jared: It is an interesting paradox, isn't it? I find it to be a pretty common but unfortunate occurrence.
Shoutweb: Sonically, the sound on the record is stunning. How did you work with Bob Ezrin and Brian Virtue to get the sound you wanted to express your music?
Jared: Thank you so much. Bob Ezrin is one of the world's greatest producers. He was at the top of our list from the very beginning, literally. We felt he had the ability to help us bring the size and scope of what we wanted to this album, and he did. Brian Virtue is an amazing new producer and was with us every step of the way and was a key element in helping us define our sound.
Shoutweb: What past works would you cite as your main influences? 30 Seconds To Mars has been compared to everything from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" to David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust".
Jared: Thank you again. We have a lot of admiration and respect for both of those artists. In today's world of disposable music, we really wanted to create something that had depth. We have so many influences, it would be impossible to list but a few are...Pink Floyd, The Cure, Bjork, Rush, The Who, Depeche Mode, etc.
Shoutweb: Is "Buddah For Mary" about a specific person or is it a metaphor for a certain kind of people?
Jared: Definitely a metaphor.
Shoutweb: On "The End Of The Beginning", when you are talking about searching for a sign, what does the sign represent? What answers were you looking for with this song?
Jared: I think we are all looking for something, and we always will be. I think it's our nature.
Shoutweb: "Revolution" was a song that did not make it on the record. The song seemed to have an anti-American tone. How did 9/11 change your perspective on how you feel about America? Did your perspective change with the song?
Jared: We don't feel it is an anti-American song at all. That is a song that can be taken many different ways. If it is taken literally or politically it could be misinterpreted. We didn't want a song like that to overshadow what we are about. And considering that people have a tendency to take things very literal we felt that especially after 9/11 it didn't fit thematically with the rest of the record. It took on new dimensions.
Shoutweb: Do you have a muse? If so, how was this a source of inspiration for the record?
Jared: I think there are enough people singing about their girlfriends or their dads. And doing a pretty good job of it. I prefer to look to other sources for inspiration.
Shoutweb: What do you hope people get out of 30 Seconds To Mars?
Jared: Enjoyment, excitement, escape, connection and some kind of relief from the monotony of music that is out there. That's what we hope.
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