interview YRB Magazine




by Kathy Iandoli Photography by Dale May Styling by Darius Baptist Grooming by Tiffanie Park

Three studio albums and a few lineup changes have brought Thirty Seconds to Mars to this very moment. 2010 was their year, and as their newest album, This Is War, implies, the trio fought hard against redundant rock formulas.

Thirty Seconds to Mars landed in New York from London about 30 seconds before their interview. Upon landing, they realized they had two days off – a rarity for a band that hasn’t stopped touring since 2009’s monster release This Is War. Lead guitarist Tomo Milicevic headed right back to the airport, boarding a plane to L.A. to spend 48 hours with his fiancée. Drummer Shannon Leto, brother of Jared, took a walk on the city streets before reviewing production and lighting plans for their upcoming sold-out UK tour. Bandleader and lead vocalist Jared Leto headed right into editing the video for their hit single “Hurricane,” which features fellow nonconformist Kanye West. While the video was near completion, they were still trying to lock down a scene or two including the emcee/producer.

The band has had quite a year. With sold out shows, a VMA award and a fan base that’s swelled like a bee sting – due in part to Jared’s creative space for fans called “The Hive” – it became quite obvious that throughout the band’s decade-plus tenure, this has been the moment they were waiting for.


YRB: It seems as though 2010 was Thirty Seconds to Mars’ year…

Tomo: It’s starting to feel like that. There’s something strange that happens when you’re in the band. You don’t notice anything that’s happening; you’re just trucking forward. So people around us will tell us, ‘Yo man, you’re everywhere. I’m hearing your song all over the place!’ We’re just kind of like ignorant to the whole thing because we’re just working and never in just one place long enough to feel the presence of the band. For us, it’s like we just have to keep pushing and keep going.


Shannon: We’re like deep in the innerworkings of it all. It’s kind of always been that way. For me, I’ve always just been so deep within the mix and the creative aspect and just being in it that it’s hard for me to relate to what’s going on outside of it.


Jared: It has been a magical year. A lot of really incredible things have happened. It’s been a gratifying year, a really humbling year filled with tons of really creative, challenging work. I think, though, that when you’re inside the bubble, you keep marching forward, put one foot in front of the other and keep embracing creative opportunities and do the best job that you can. It’s hard to take it into perspective and really look outside that. Once in a while you have a glimpse of it, and it makes you really grateful for what’s happening.


YRB: Was there a moment when you realized what was really happening, success-wise?


Jared: You know, I think it happens once in a while. You get a moment of clarity, an interaction with someone who has heard your music and has responded to it in a really deep way. It can be just the sense of awareness of some of the opportunities that are out there. I think traveling the world and seeing the shows grow in size is a really tangible way to understand that the music’s been connecting with the people.


Tomo: Something cool that happens once in a while is that you snap out of the craziness and you just kinda observe from an outside perspective and you say, “Whoa. I’m in this band and we’re playing for 80,000 people right now.” There was this moment… We played Rock am Ring in Germany over the summer and we were the main support, which was huge. We played festivals before, but were never so high up on the roster. To walk out on that stage and to see somewhere between 80-85,000 people and then to start playing the set and realize they actually know all the songs. It was pretty remarkable.



YRB: Of course there were the VMAs…


Shannon: When they called our name, we didn’t think we were gonna win [Best Rock Video for “Kings and Queens”].


Tomo: Not at all.


Shannon: When they called our name, we were like, “Fuck!” It was just so magical. That feeling was so awesome to know that you affected all those people with the art from your soul or wherever the fuck it comes from really. It affected these people and for them to vote and put their time in… It’s pretty awesome.


Tomo: Then to be nominated four times, including Video of the Year with people like Eminem, Lady Gaga and Drake and all of the other people nominated, and hear Thirty Seconds to Mars called alongside those names… It was pretty surreal.



YRB: This Is War turned out to be one of your most successful albums. What was your thought process or mantra going into it?


Shannon: Really it was just abandon all ideas of my knowledge of recording up until that point. Do things differently, try things and just keep pushing myself to be more open-minded and be awake and aware of new ideas.


Tomo: The mantra was, “We are not here to do what has already been done.” We wrote it above our studio door so it was a reminder every single day. We were very conscious that we had set out to destroy the past with this album. Some people I think would be scared to do that, but we welcomed it with open arms and smiling faces. Without great risk, there can be no great reward.


Jared: You certainly learn about perseverance, you learn a lot about what a gift it is to be able to do what we’re doing. We carry that with us – that sense of gratitude and humility – not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s how we feel.


YRB: You have a unique way of marketing yourselves, especially setting up “The Hive.” Where do these ideas come from?


Jared: From my slightly strange, sick and twisted imagination. Much like the “Hurricane” video that we’re editing right now… It’s really strange. You know, for me it’s always been a rewarding place to look toward our audience for creative ideas. It’s been a really fertile ground for creative endeavors. I find it to be a place that I’m always curious about. For me, I have a genuine curiosity and desire to further the connectivity and the connection between the band and the audience.


Shannon: Ever since the first show, there was this community that we wanted to experience and have. Talking to the people that were listening, just the interactivity. We’ve always been interested in that. It just grew and evolved. We always try to share the experience as much as possible with the people that want to share it with us.


YRB: Having worked with Kanye West on “Hurricane” and reinventing your sound, have you noticed your fan base has changed at all?

Jared: There has been a shift worldwide, and it’s interesting to see. When the size of your shows increase, there is a shift in the audience in one direction or another or a few directions at once. I’ve never been one to believe in the censorship of our music. Anyone has a right to listen to it. There’s no parameters. You don’t have to have on skinny jeans and a flannel shirt or the right music list on your Facebook page. Anyone has a right to listen to us; everyone is welcome. We’re happy people are coming to our shows and are a part of it.



Tomo: When you do the drastic type of rebirth that we do from album to album, one of the byproducts of that is that you’re going to lose some of your hardcore fan base. The positive of that, though, is that you gain so many new people.

YRB: Your choice in fashion has evolved from album to album. Is that intentional?


Shannon: We do what we feel, literally. I just like different stuff. We all like different things and mix and match different things. Clothes are an expression as well. We try to have fun with it.


Jared: For me, if I’m thinking about it at all it’s about the live show and what I can do to help present an environment that is filled with freedom and risk-taking and fun and excitement and energy. That’s where it all stems from. I don’t take a great interest in fashion for fashion’s sake. For me, if it helps express an idea, then great.


YRB: So the fashion is reflecting the music?


Jared: Exactly.


YRB: Have you ever looked back on anything you’ve worn and thought, “I shouldn’t have done that?”


Jared: We all make mistakes and we all live and die by our experiments and accidents. That’s all part of being human, so I don’t take it too seriously. Today’s blessing is tomorrow’s curse and vice versa. We all liked parachute pants at one point. I’d like a pair now to tell you the truth.


Shannon: There was this one pic when I was a kid… I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. I was wearing these khaki pants with a pink sweater and my hair was parted at the side. Like total new wave, but not… I looked weird. I look at that picture and I’m like, “I can’t.” We’ve all had some pretty experimental clothing. It captures a moment in time.


YRB: Looking forward to 2011, what’s in store for Thirty Seconds to Mars?


Jared: 2011 is going to be an interesting year. We’ll return to the States for another tour and it’ll be the kind of final chapter for this record in some ways because it’ll have been out for over a year. Although, the new songs people seem to be responding to in a really exciting way, and that’s encouraging. The sky’s the limit. We’ll be touring and touring and touring.


YRB: If you weren’t here making music, where do you think you would be?


Jared: If I wasn’t making music I would probably be in the woods with a big deer… Talking to myself.


 

 

Merci à Kÿr!

 

Source : yrbmagazine.com

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