By Jenn Dohner
My first introduction to 30 Seconds to Mars, was in 2005 when they opened for Audioslave in Seattle. Had no clue who they were, or the fact that the front man was an established actor. My first reaction was, "Who the hell is this band? They're ripping it up!!". During the intermission , the band signed stuff for their existing fans as well as the newly acquired ones. Every person in line was given their turn. Every last one. I was impressed.
I heard their single "Attack" and liked it, but shockingly, had never listened to the full CD until a very long drive home from "Warped Tour" . There I was, freshly stimulated by a plethora of Warped interviews and photo's, and all I could play was 30 Seconds to Mars, over and over again. It's rare for me to find a CD that I can listen to repeatedly without mixing it up a bit or taking a break. It's the same with movies, I see it once, that's enough. As per ritual, with every CD I own, I did the old "3,7,11". What is this exactly? Apparently it's some bizarre, borderline OCD thing I have about music. I only listen to tracks #3,#7 & #11. I determine if I like the CD by this method. Is it fair? No. Does it work? Yes. If I like any of the tracks, I will listen to the whole thing. After successfully passing the "3,7,11" test, with flying colors , I played it from the beginning and listened to it's entirety.
This album is a journey, full of raw, edgy lyrics that are sometimes haunting. I truly felt it, all the way to my bones. There should be a warning label on the CD, that gives strict instructions to listen from beginning to end, in one sitting. I mean c'mon, you don't take 1/2 a shower do you? It's worth it , trust me. If you don't learn something, you're not listening. It is cohesive music, where the last songs makes more sense because you listened to the current one."A Beautiful Lie" is a roller coaster ride that takes you through your own life experiences. Each track leading into the next chapter. In a society where we have become accustomed to falling in love with the catchy bridge of a new song, it's refreshing to have something that makes you really think and experience the music instead of just listening. "A Beautiful Lie" transcends trivial lyrics and catchy melodies. It captures you and doesn't let you go. Buy the CD already.
I covered the Seattle show at El Corazon on July 17th,2006. It is evident by the fans that showed up, I am not the only one who feels strongly about 30 Seconds To Mars. Just about every age group and genre of people showed up to the show . All equally passionate, and excited to see them play. The band has successfully struck a chord with a diverse group of people. The fans were a melting pot of gothic's, punks, metal heads, preppy American Eagle girls, young kids and a good mix of people in their 30's and 40's .
I had the opportunity to interview both Tomo Milicevic (guitar) and Shannon Leto (drums). Tomo and I sat down upstairs and halfway through, Shannon and I left, and went to a Starbucks a couple blocks away. Starbuck's in Seattle you say? Shocking isn't it? Murphy's Law was in full effect, as my voice recorder's battery was deader than a turkey on Thanksgiving. Did I bring a spare? Of course not. So I did my best to take short hand. Backup, I don't know short hand. So, memory, summary, and notes, helped define this interview.
Jenn: What has been a defining moment for the band?
Tomo: Playing Lollapalooza 2003. We went out into the crowd, carrying a flag, and gathered fans. They followed us back to our stage and as soon as we got there, we started playing.
Shannon: Becoming a band, the video "The Kill", and headlining our own tour.
Jenn: Do you think it has been less challenging, or more challenging having your lead singer be an established actor? As far as being respected musically?
Tomo: Personally, I think it has been easier compared to what other bands have to face. I'd much rather have this challenge that what some others face. It's hard.
Jenn: Where did the concept for the video "The Kill" come from ?
Tomo: It was Jarod's concept but it was directed by this artsy Danish director, Bartholomew Cubbins.
(The video was inspired by themes of isolation and insanity present in the Kubrickian nightmare The Shining.)
Jenn: What do you think your recipe for success has been?
Shannon: Sharing honestly and being truthful. I think this rings a bell with our fans. It's important to be open minded, to grow and evolve and not get stuck in a box. We are about taking risks.
Jenn: I heard you guys stay sometimes, until 2-3 in the morning signing stuff for your fans. Is this true?
Tomo: Yeah, we make sure everyone in line gets a turn.It's important to us. Not sure how long we'll be able to continue doing that, but right now we can and do.
Shannon: It's important to make that connection with our fans.
Jenn: When did you know you wanted to be a drummer?
Shannon: I was banging on pots and pans when I was really young and got my first practice pad when I was about 3. So I don't think there was an age, I just always did it.
Jenn: Was there anyone in your life who really inspired you creatively?
Shannon: Yes. When I was about 9 or 10 this artist lived with us. His name was Larry Sleazak. He introduced me to the arts and exposed me to expression. He encouraged me to find an outlet. Great guy.
Jenn: So what's next for the band?
Shannon: We're touring until the end of the year. We're also being featured on MTV2's "All that Rocks" (airing July 30th).
After interviewing Shannon, we saw these 4 girls on our way back to the venue. They were all wearing their self decorated wife beaters, declaring their love for the band. It was Shannon who said, "Let's get a photo of them.". The girls were beside themselves with excitement . I found it to be another wonderful example of the band appreciating their fans. Shannon graciously went out of his way to honor them.
The show was amazing, if not a near miracle. I say that because of the venue. The place was wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder, with people. This is not an unusual or miraculous thing. The stifling heat, however, was. I was smack dab in the middle of all the fans, doing my best to capture the show. Between getting shoved, the sweat trickling into my eyes and the heat of the place fogging up my lens, I seriously pondered how the hell I was going to walk away with even one photo. I'm not sure I can even begin to describe the heat, or the smells of hundreds of bodies all sopped with sweat. It was a human convection oven . God forbid anyone be claustrophobic. Go back to the days of college kids seeing how many people they could stuff into a Volkswagen Bug. Now imagine doing that in 100 degree heat for a few hours.This is why the show was a miracle. Despite the ridiculous heat, 30 Seconds To Mars seemed unaffected. They played with passion and made the people forget how miserably hot it was . Jared spoke to the crowd with a kind reminder to "Watch out for the people around, if someone looks like they're in trouble, help them out." The show went on and 30 Seconds To Mars left their fans fully satisfied. Made me think to myself, "I wonder if they offered to play in a field of cow dung, would people really show up?". I think they would. True to form, the band stayed after the show and did not leave until everyone in line, had met them.
In a nutshell, 30 Seconds To Mars is the band to keep on your radar. Their ground-breaking video, brilliant CD, honest & electric performances, can only continue to send them soaring. Are they really that good you ask? Yeah, they really are. These are not just 4 guys playing, they are compelled to do what they do, and they love every second of it.
Jenn with Jared & Shannon Leto
30 Seconds To Mars Official Website
30 Seconds To Mars Myspace