Shannon Leto, 2006

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

So, the last time 30 Seconds to Mars came through Columbus, it was with Audioslave as an opener. What was it like to tour with those guys who have been though it all?
It was awesome. Just to see those guys every night was like a blessing. I mean I listened to those guys when they were with Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, so to be on tour with them was just amazing.

On thing I noticed at that show was the amount of energy you put forth in drumming ever night. How do you keep that intensity up for a headlining show? There is a lot going on back there.
There is a lot going on back there, with the electronics and all that. But yea, I do put everything I have into every show. It is just how I play and I don't really think too much about it. But it can get pretty brutal.

 

The one thing about this record and the live performance of it is it really is the CD intensified. Was that mostly due to the fact that the band consciously stripped some of the sound down?
Well, when we recorded the first record it was layer on top of layer or top of layer. We were really recording like a lot of Jared and mine's influences, with bands like Yes and Pink Floyd who had all those layers. With this record, we really tried to get rid of a lot of that and both with Jared's lyrics and our recording; we were a bit more personal and raw. So I think that is what we set out to do.

 

How much going into this second record was that monkey lifted off the back of the band, that no longer was it Jared Leto's band or project, but it was just 30 Seconds to Mars, the rock band?
Well, this band was never set up to be anything but a legitimate rock band. For the first record, we played over 300 shows in less than two years. And we played with anybody, and I mean anybody. We just toured and played our music and tried to show people through our music that this band is for real. Plus, I think a lot of that talk about what this band is or isn't was coming from the press, the kids have always been into our music. So yea, we knew we what we were getting into when we started, but we never really let it affect us.

 

I was talking with Matt (Wachter) before the Audioslave tour, and he was saying when he was approached to tour with 30 Seconds, he didn't know what to expect. But once he saw you guys recording, he knew you were for real. How is it now that there is a definite band to surround what you and Jared started?
It's awesome. I mean, Jared and I always set out to start a band. So to actually have that happen is great. I mean, the four of us get along great and the different influences we have and the different avenues we take toward music are wonderful. Everyone is taking their part in the band, so when we recorded, it was really a great collaboration of music. It's amazing.

Now that the band is headlining, is there more pressure put on your shoulders every night?
I don't think so. I mean, when we are the opener, we really had to go out there and be on and amped up every night. We couldn't have a let down. We were playing to crowds that were there to see another band, and we had to try to win them over. Where now, it is like we are playing to our fans and sure, there may be more outside stuff to deal with, but I wouldn't say there is more pressure as a headliner, I just think it is a different kind of pressure.

Now with two records out, does it make it easier to create a set list or is it harder? As a headliner, I would think the more time would make the list a bit easier to create?
Well, not really. I mean, as an opener, we always wanted to fill that 30 minutes with the songs that we thought best described what the band was like. Where as a headliner, you may have to think more about what the fans would want to hear, but still also gives a good representation of the band's sound. Plus, we like to adlib a lot and just kind of go with what is happening.

 

So, you can't really get too drunk before going on stage and get left behind.
Well, I don't drink but I do see what you are saying. It does mean we all have to be cognizant at all times and have to be on with the rest of the band, because we will change things up a lot. Every show is always a bit different, and we like it like that.

 

Another cool aspect to this band, is as I witnessed after the Audioslave show, was the entire band went out to the merchandise booth to meet fans, take photos, sign autographs, You do make yourselves very accessible. But at the same time, there has to be nights where your sick, had a bad day or just don't want to do that.
Well, you just have to put all that behind you. You just have to be able to block out all the bad stuff, so when you are out there playing or with the fans, that is what should be the focus. Sure, there are times where we are sick, but we always remember that for an hour or so, we just need to, in our minds, put that away and just have fun. This is a fun business to be in. So yea, meeting our fans is something we love to do. We want our fans to know we care about them.

 

You mentioned earlier that the first record was recorded in a way that was reminiscent of bands that you and Jared listened to growing up. This record is different. Do you think 30 Seconds to Mars has found its identity and sound?
I don't think so. I mean a lot of band's first records are heavily influenced. And this record, I do think we did things more how we felt was best. But at the same time, I don't think this band will ever be to a point that someone can say this is the sound of 30 Seconds to Mars. I mean, we may want to add tambourines and triangles on the next record, and if we think it's right, we will. Virgin Records has been great about allowing us to be ourselves. But as a band, I hope we never get to the point that we feel comfortable with our music. I think we will always be evolving and changing for as long we this band is around.

 

Another aspect of this record, A Beautiful Lie, is the rollercoaster of emotions throughout, and I am not just talking about lyrics. I really like how each member put their personal emotion into each song. So even if Jared is singing heavy, you may be playing light, or vice versa. It seems that each band member took their own approach to the song.
Exactly. I mean there is emotion in each part, in each harmony and in each chorus to make up this emotional thing called a song. We really did try to play within ourselves and what we are feeling at the time we were recording. This record was based a lot on that. It wasn't this is going to be a sad song or an angry song; it was about what each band member was feeling as they played. There are so many different emotions going on through each song, and I think that is what makes this record what it is. Plus, we were not always holed up in a studio in Las Angeles, we got to travel the world while recording and we got to feel different vibes, so each part of a song is full of emotions, but each song has their own vibe to, so the record is fill if different passions.

 

Does having all those emotions on the record make it harder or easier to play live?
Well, I think it makes it easier because each night we are playing what we feel. So, we really just go out there and play as hard as we can every night and try to put on the best show and experience we can for the audience.

The line-up for this tour, with Aiden, Emanuel and Keating, seems to be a nice mix. How much say did the band have in picking the openers?
We had full say. After all, this is our tour and we are going to be spending each night with these guys. And every band has been awesome. They are out there giving it all every night and really warming the crowd up for us. This has been, so far, a great tour.

We talked earlier about how this band played over 300 dates in two years, and really spent each day building this band brick by brick. It wasn't a let's go on Warped to see how many people we can reach, but it was a slow, steady process of playing night after night. How exhausting was it for the band?
It was exhausting, but this is what we wanted to do. We have always been very serious about our music, so we did what we thought was best for the band, and that was play whenever and wherever we could. Having a band was something Jared and I have always wanted, to we were willing to do whatever it took to make sure we had the chance to succeed.

 

As a musician, you are probably thinking about music all the time; do you do anything to keep your mind occupied with something else?
Well, when we are on tour, that is our main focus and that is pretty much all I will be thinking about. But I am writing a drama for cable television and I am into photography, so those are a few things I do that pull me away from music. But when it comes time to tour, that gets 99% of my time. Although I do have some obligations with the writing. So yea, I can get away from music, which is nice.