Jared Leto's 30 seconds to Mars

As the announcements for next year's Soundwave festival slowly trickles in, one of the biggest names to join the bill early on is Los Angeles rockers 30 Seconds To Mars, who just so happen to be fronted by Hollywood film star, Jared Leto. Leto came under fire when the band first emerged, being pinned as another actor turned musician, using his film fame to score record deals and so on. The band has now released their third album, ' This Is War,' which is arguably their best work and a huge leap forward from their past efforts.


After chatting with Leto, it is clear that music is where his heart is. He is now the main songwriter for the group and after a line up change that resulted in the band becoming a three piece, responsible for playing half of the instruments. Leto claims that losing the fourth member didn't really affect the band that much, "I've always written the songs and played the majority of the instruments so nothing has really changed, we always have a couple of musicians that will come on tour with us so, things are how they have always been."


The rockers are currently in Australia playing some promotional shows for the new record and Leto has spent as much time as possible out and about meeting fans. The group have always had a strong connection to their fans, while recording the new album the group invited fans from all over the world to a number of "summits" at which lucky punters recorded gang vocals and stomps which were eventually mixed down and added to particular songs on the album. "It was an idea that I had for quite some time" explains Leto, "I was looking forward to an interactive element. It was a pretty unique thing to be a part of." In addition to the recordings, fans were invited to send pictures of themselves to the band which were then turned into limited edition covers for the record. "We always look for ways to be more inclusive and I always find it an interesting place to operate, I think it's really rewarding to break down barriers and have an open conversation like that."


One of the things that makes ' This Is War' such a good record is its production, something that the front man claims was planned meticulously, "There were a lot of different elements going on at the same time, you have to keep your eye on it or else things can get a bit chaotic." Leto claims that the band have finally found their sound on the new album, "We knew we had an opportunity and we took full advantage of that. We, in some strange way, have given birth to ourselves and become the band that we were searching for." The songs on the new record all have strong individual identities, thanks in part to the band's "no rules" songwriting approach. Luckily producer Flood was present to make sure things stayed on track, as Leto puts it, "Getting out of control is a good thing but staying out of control isn't."


The band have been touring the world in support of their new release and plan to continue travelling well into the next year. Between making records and live shows, Leto barely has any time for his film career. "Music is the priority right now. Working on the record for two years, and having it finally come out after not even knowing if it would come out, is a pretty important thing, when I make a film I'll shut everything off but I haven't made a film in quite some time and I don't often make many films so I do have the time to make music." Leto has not left his film passion behind completely, shooting the band's music videos as short films. The video for the first single from the new album, Kings And Queens, featured the band's fans, and imagery that looked extremely similar to the work of infamous graffiti artist Banksy. "That was definitely a nod to Banksy, we've all been big fans and appreciated his work and I thought the images went along with the ethos [of the video]."


As the band continues their world travel, Australian fans who missed them this time can now look forward to the Soundwave festival, for which Leto claims the band will be well rehearsed and at the top of their game. "The live shows are absolutely insane; the energy is infectious. The record was built for live shows and they will keep getting better and better."

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