The real deal
Alternative band 30 Seconds to Mars gets respect as more than a vanity project for actor Jared Leto
WHAT a difference a few years makes. When Los Angeles-based alternative band 30 Seconds to Mars made their debut with its self-titled project in 2002, the release was routinely dismissed as a vanity project for actor/frontman Jared Leto.
Moviegoers to "Requiem for a Dream" and "Panic Room" didn't necessarily translate into album buyers. Despite the fact that the actor wrote every song and recorded nearly every instrument on the record himself, only about 190,000 purchasers took the act seriously enough to buy the album.
COURTESY IMMORTAL / VIRGIN RECORDS
30 SECONDS TO MARS
With opening bands Building a Better Spaceship and Explore
7 p.m. Friday and Sunday at Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
Tickets for Friday concert:
$35 and $70 VIP (Sunday concert sold out)
(877) 750-4400 or visit ticketmaster.com
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It might have been a similar situation regarding the band's second release, 2005's "A Beautiful Lie," had it not been for a heavy touring schedule and a new producer stepping in. With a little help from new producer Josh Abraham (Orgy, Linkin Park), as well as a few creative marketing ploys, more than a million copies of the band's hit album have been sold since its release on the Immortal/Virgin label.
The band has gone from opening-act status to headliners with the release of the sophomore album. The good will extended toward fans -- the band routinely signs an abundance of autographs at shows -- is part of the reason there's been a warm reception for "A Beautiful Lie." And it didn't hurt that 12 lucky album buyers who found a "golden ticket" inside the CD's packaging won free tickets and backstage passes to shows of their choice.
LETO ENTHUSED about fans of 30 Seconds to Mars in a promotional interview he did back in 2005 for the movie "Lord of War." "People are really supportive," he said. "And the fact that people are kind of looking through the stereotypical experience of there being someone who may have been kind of known as an actor in a band, the fact that people are looking through this and pointing us out and saying, 'Hey, you guys are actually legitimate and doing a good job,' it's really rewarding to get that response."
Despite the positive upswing, Leto told VH1.com that he is wondering about the fate of the band after the group wraps up touring. "We're talking about the possibilities of another record or the possibility of calling it something else and saying goodbye. You have to look at your life and see if you have anything to say or to offer at that point."
The young actor has never walked down the predictable path when it comes to choosing movie roles. Add in his duties as band vocalist, and the amount of the time he has spent on movie sets has decreased considerably since he started 30 Seconds to Mars. "It's difficult because you have to sacrifice. Clint Eastwood actually wanted me to be in his movie and I had to say no to one of my heroes. I had to support the release of the record. But those are sacrifices that you make and just the name of the game."
Formed in 1998 with brother Shannon, Leto and the rest of the band -- Shannon on drums and guitarist Tomo Milosevic (longtime bassist Matt Wachter left the band in March) -- are still touring off of "A Beautiful Lie" on the strength of such breakout tracks as "The Kill" and "From Yesterday," for which a video was shot near Shanghai, China.
Based upon the opulent film "The Last Emperor," the video shoot was the first shot in China by an American band. Leto told VH1.com that the experience remains a memorable one in the band's personal history. "It's one of those things that, regardless of the result of the video, it changed our lives, it really did," he said. "It was one of those unique things where we got to be a part of (China's) history and they gave us something incredible in return.
"What we wanted to do was have an experience as powerful or more powerful than the result of the video, and it was just that. I mean, to go halfway across the world and to do something that hadn't really been done before was a special gift."