Matt Wachter , 2005

 

Written by: Jason Perlman

 

Although you toured with 30 Seconds to Mars with its first record, it wasn't until that you got to be involved in the creative process of recording and writing A Beautiful Lie. As a musician, what was that like for you personally?
I think it definitely goes without saying that it was quite fulfilling. At first, I wasn't quite sure what my role was going to be this second time around and during recording. But it turned out really well. Everybody was very open to new ideas and different inputs; so it was really fulfilling. I was actually very pleasantly surprised.

 

Now you get to play music you helped to write live in front of a crowd. Is there a different feel to playing music you created versus playing something already written?
Yea, for sure. It definitely injects a different kind of feeling and emotion into the music when you are actually part of that creative process from the start. The first time around, I got the record, learned the parts and then just went out and played them. I may have tweaked a few little things here and there, but for the most part, just stuck with what was there and just played the parts. Obviously, for the second record, it's a totally different experience.

 

You toured pretty extensively for the first record, it has been about three years since there was new 30 Seconds music. How have you seen the band evolve from being just another actor's band or side project to a legitimate rock band?
It's been amazing. For me, the way I see it, is the band has done a complete 180. Touring on the first record, we consciously shied away from doing a lot of press, interviews and photo shoots because we wanted the music to speak for itself. And in the end, it really worked because a lot of people got to judge us on the music and not who was in the band or what other career they might have. This time around, it hasn't been that much of a battle. We still get people coming up saying, "Oh, I didn't even know Jared (Leto) was in the band." Hopefully we can let the music speak for itself and I think we have succeeded in doing that.

 

A lot of people are saying, including the band, that this record is much more raw than the first.
Definitely. The difference being was the first time around it was Jared and Shannon making the entire record themselves. This time around, we worked on the songs as a band. Jared would write a song, bring it to the table, and we would all work it out as a band. We would each add our elements and really work on each aspect as a band and I think that ultimately led to a much more raw, stripped-down sound. Much more organic.

 

When you bring your parts to a song, how much do you think about the live performance and how can we make that happen live?
I think that is always going on the back of our heads, all throughout the studio. We kept asking ourselves, "How are we going to pull this off live?" Because the last thing we wanted to do was create a record we couldn't pull off live without the help of backing tracks, which we are not a fan. So we tried to create something that we could definitely recreate live but also elevate as well.

 

And as a musician, how do you feel about the chance to be on tour with Audioslave, arguably some of the most influential musicians of today's music era?
It has got to be on of the highest honors of any musician to be out on the road with these guys. These guys are, like you said, some of the most talented musicians in the world and it's an honor to be out on tour with them.

 

Do you find yourself watching what they do, not necessarily to mimic or copy, but to just see how they handle their daily lives?
I think there is always a little bit of that. I think you learn from every band you tour with, at least I do. With every musician you admire, you take something from that experience. So I think that is an ongoing process, one that never ends.

 

You mentioned very early on that the band consciously shied away from being marketed in a way that wasn't what was best for the music. And even now you are taking an opening slot for Seether and Audioslave rather that being on the Jared Leto's 30 Seconds to Mars Tour coming to a town near you. How much of that are you appreciative of as a musician to see someone like Jared take the music so seriously?
I think it's a testament to what Jared's focus really is, and it's about creating art. It's not about selling a product for the masses. Because if it was about selling a product, like you said, his face would be all over it. It'd me like, "Look at me!" But he's an artist. He is interested in creating something special, not creating a brand and getting it out there and making a million dollars. If he wanted to do that, he could just keep making movies for the rest of his life. Blockbuster movies at that.

 

Which there is nothing wrong with!
No, no. Nothing wrong with that. But the guy turned down Clint Eastwood so we could go on tour with The Used. So if that is not saying something, I don't know what is.

As an artist yourself, were you a bit leery about taking this gig from the beginning?
Yea, actually, I was. Ultimately what happened was a friend of mine was just like, "Come down and check it out." I went down and they were mixing the song "Fallen" off the first record, and sat in and I was blown away. I was completely blown away. And from that second on, I was like, "How do I get into this band? What do I have to do? Who do I have to kill?"

Since there was a long hiatus from being on the road, was it easy to fall back into being cooped up on a bus all day?
No, not at all. We took close to two-and-a-half years writing and recording this record and then shifting gears into touring is just completely different. It is definitely shifting gears and getting reacquainted with living in a sardine can on wheels with 10 other guys. It was nice though because being in the studio for so long really made us hunger to get back on the road. At least for myself, I was so ready to go. But it was interesting though, because the writing and recording process was like being on the road because we traveled to so many different places. So in a lot of way, it was like touring.

 

Now that you are a full-fledged band member and not just a touring member, does anything surprise you about your role, like talking to goofy press people like myself?
I think it has been gradual enough that I haven't really noticed how my role has changed. I mean, even from day one it was so open and welcome and Jared and Shannon always went out of their way to make me feel a part of the band. So in the beginning, even though technically I was just brought on to tour with them, and grew into this role of being a band member. But I think it has been so gradual that I haven't even noticed how much it's changed over the four years I have been in the band. But in a lot of ways, it has changed considerably.

 

I was just at the System of a Down show a few nights ago, and it was nice to see a band become commercially successful without putting out watered down music and lyrics. It seems the radio and corporate world of sales, I would argue, is causing lots of bands to either become less artistic or less artistic bands becoming pushed forward due to easy sellability. How do you, as an artist, see the music world today?
There is the old saying, and I am going to completely butcher it, but it goes something like, "Grant me the strength to change the things that I can, and the serenity for the things that I can't." It is one of those things; it's inevitable. It is always going to exist and you just are going to have to live with it. I mean, sure you can say you are fighting it. But let's face it, radio and MTV are always going to be there, record sales are always going to matter, so it's a matter of not putting all your focuses energy on that, but being aware of it. For us, it was something that we were never concerned about. I remember Jared saying all throughout the first record that he never, never, never thought he would have a song on the radio. And "Capricorn" made it to radio, and sure it wasn't the biggest single, but that was something he never even imagined. And now with "Attack" being a really big success with radio, I don't know, I guess it was an afterthought. Because, honestly, it is something we really don't concern ourselves with, but are appreciative of. But it was nothing we ever set out to do, be on the radio. We never sat down and said, "Okay, let's write a single." I would like to shoot those bands. You know it is like, okay, you got your two singles, now you can write the filler. I have talked to a lot of my friends who are in bands, and the labels are like, "Okay, you got your two singles, now you can make your filler." Not even sugarcoating it. Make the filler, throw some songs together. And that's sad. Music is not supposed to be about that.