Thirty Seconds to Mars are (left to right): Drummer Shannon Leto, singer/guitarist Jared Leto, and lead guitarist Tomo Miličević
Hometown: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Somewhere between Pink Floyd and the Killers (no, really)
Latest project: The latest leg of their "Into the Wild" tour
Biggest claim to fame: Besides Jared Leto’s acting career? A string of modern rock radio hits, including their latest, “This Is War.”
Official website: http://www.thirtysecondstomars.com/
The brothers Leto—singer/guitarist Jared and drummer Shannon—return stateside this fall with lead guitarist Tomo Miličević to deliver more spacewalking rock from their popular power trio Thirty Seconds to Mars. Along for their interstellar ride is the popular crowd-sourcing project called Faces of Mars, where fans can upload their mugs onto the cover of limited-edition copies of the multi-platinum band's latest effort “This Is War,” released last December.
Meanwhile, awaiting them in the United States are four nominations for the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, to go along with their various trophies from Kerrang! and others, as well as a string of No. 1 hits like “Kings and Queens" and “This Is War.” So, what do you give the band that has everything? A short, sweet chat with Jared Leto about Kanye West, tweets from Iran and more.
You went crowd-sourcing with the Faces of Mars campaign, by pulling fans into the creative process online and in a real-time gathering called “The Summit.” Are you raising an army to take over Earth?
The Summit was a really exciting and creative endeavor. It was great to do something interactive and include our fans. We ended up doing the first one here in L.A., and about a thousand people showed up from all over the world. It went so well, we did it in eight other countries around the world. It was phenomenal.
What impact did that social engineering experiment have?
It really added something special to the songs. One day, I got a Twitter message from someone in Iran who was disappointed because they couldn't make it to any of the global summits that we did. That gave me the impetus to do a digital version of the summit, where people could participate from anywhere.
How you did tech it out?
We utilized TwitVid and Twitter and some other technologies to have this interactive platform where people could record and experiment and be a part of this new album. That led to Faces of Mars, which is the idea of putting the faces of 2,000 friends and fans from around the world on 2,000 covers of the CD.
Is Kanye West's mug on there? What was it like working with him on "This Is War?" [Ed. note: West's contributions to the track "Hurricane" were removed due to label conflicts.]
I had actually brought up the idea of working with West some time ago, and it’s great that happened. He came by the studio, and we did some initial kind of listening, and he did some singing. We needed to kind of follow up and finish things, so I went to Hawaii with an engineer and a small crew and wrapped it up.
Do you think he gets a bad rap? Pardon the pun.
He was a pleasure to work with. Easygoing, nice, and really hospitable. I think what he did on the song is some of his most interesting singing to date.
Any thoughts on your evolving sound? I'm hearing it compared to everyone from Pink Floyd to the Killers, who I've never heard together in a sentence before.
Ha! I don't think I have either, and I doubt it will be said again anytime soon.
If you had to objectively describe your sound, you'd say…
It's always been an experimentation for us. We always look for the opportunity to grow, to develop, to change. For "This is War," I wrote the songs over a period of about two to three years and found that this is us. It's is a collections of our thoughts, our dreams, our nightmares, our hopes, and our lives.