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 30 Seconds to Mars interview / Nightlife & Music

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MessageSujet: 30 Seconds to Mars interview / Nightlife & Music   30 Seconds to Mars interview / Nightlife & Music EmptyJeu 10 Mar 2011 - 8:41

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30 Seconds to Mars interview
We catch up with angsty rocker Jared Leto ahead of his Dhabi gig

LA trio 30 Seconds to Mars elicit their fair share of eye-rolling from the hipper-than-thou for reasons that have little to do with music. There’s the fact that their expanded fanbase includes a sizeable adolescent element. There’s singer Jared Leto’s history as a teenage heartthrob-turned-character actor. Or maybe it’s because of wonderfully OTT mini-movie clips for tunes such as ‘From Yesterday’. Or simply because they make unashamedly expansive and windswept rock records.

But cock an ear to the band’s last album This Is War and the unprejudiced might conclude that the three-piece are closer in spirit to early U2 or even Nine Inch Nail’s The Downward Spiral than My Chemical Romance. And while Leto may have first come to prominence via his acting career – starting off in the teen drama My So-Called Life, before memorable turns in Fight Club, American Psycho and Requiem For A Dream – he also possesses a scorched earth yowl of a voice.

‘To tell you the truth, I still don’t really think I can sing,’ he says on the phone from LA . ‘I suppose I just have that part of me that refuses to not walk through it, regardless of what I think. I’m really compelled to make music, and to write songs and to sing, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s something that, if I were more rational, I’m not sure I would have continued to do all these years. Really, it’s been nothing short of compulsion. I remember when I was a kid walking home from school I would mimic the voices of some of the singers that I loved.’

What kinds of singers? ‘Oh, everyone from Robert Plant to Bono. But I’ve never had a singing lesson, it’s never been something that I’ve pursued except in my own songs. Like, I was never in a cover band, I never was in a jam band. I’ve only ever written songs.’

Despite their reputation as a teen-friendly emo band, Jared denies they fall into this bracket.

‘I always quote Andy Warhol when asked this,’ he says. ‘Labels are for cans, not for people!’

He also insists that 30 Seconds’ fan base covers a variety of demographics, with people of all ages turning out for his shows. So is it strange, as a 39-year-old man, to look out into a crowd and see middle-aged males next to adolescent girls?

‘It’s always surprising, and we all get a kick out of it. I love seeing the different types of people at the shows, and it’s not uncommon to see, like you said, a young 12-year-old boy or a 40-year-old guy. It’s a pretty disparate audience and I really enjoy that. You don’t choose your audience. Anyone has the right to listen to these songs, and when I write the song I kind of relinquish ownership of it.’

The band’s last album This Is War was a big, bold and unashamedly epic record preoccupied with themes of mortality and faith. Among the album’s innovations is the use of a mass rabble choir drawn from the ranks of the band’s fanbase, the Echelon, recorded at various so-called Summit meetings in both the corporeal and digital realm.

‘When people hear ‘Kings & Queens’ and many of the songs that have the Summit on them, it’s actually tens of thousands of people from all over the world,’ Leto explains. ‘It started as a physical location in Los Angeles, we did the first Summit at a place called The Avalon, about a thousand people showed up. It was something I’d been thinking about for a year and a half. I had most of it mapped out and experimented a bit and did some percussion, some singing, some chanting and stomping, and utilised this group as basically an instrument, and it went really well so we extended the experiment to eight other countries around the world.’

And fans from the Middle East were not excluded from the Summits, even when it was physically impossible for them to attend.

‘When we were recording, I got a Twitter message from someone in Iran who was frustrated that they couldn’t make one of the Summits, so that was the impetus for the digital version, where people could sit at home by themselves with friends and participate,’ claims Jared. ‘It was fun to do things that haven’t been done before and to try to figure out the schematics of it all and how to make it work.’

‘We didn’t have a record deal at the time, it was self-financed, and it was an intense time for us and for the rest of the world. We happened to be fighting a big battle with our label as well (Virgin sued the band for breach of contract; the matter has since been resolved) and there were some personal things that happened, a death in the family, some big life challenges. We’re not expecting anyone to feel sorry for us, these are things that happen to all of us, it’s part of what makes us better, stronger, keeps us human and gives us an opportunity to have some humility.’

So, with his new found demureness, Jared will be leading the band at Flash Forum. If you’re a fan of angst-infused rock, it’s a show you won’t want to miss. Just don’t mention the word ‘emo’.

By Hot Press/ The Interview People
By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi, 2 March 2011
Crédit : April sun
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