30 Seconds to build a brand new world
By Megan O'Toole
30 Seconds to Mars released their debut album last month and already they are being compared to heavy hitters like Tool and Nine Inch Nails.
"I'd say that's significantly better than being compared to Menudo," vocalist Jared Leto laughs.
Leto is best known for his roles in the short-lived drama
My So-called Life and the recent movie The Panic Room.
Billboard hits and units shipped are secondary concerns for 30 Seconds, a band whose intelligent rock is a refreshing offering from the crowded "So-Cal" scene.
"We live our lives searching for a creative reward in what we do; we're creative people," Leto asserts, adding materialistic rewards have never been important to the band.
"There are ideas, philosophies and ways of thinking [throughout the album] that we all find compelling."
So what is this ideology, this driving force behind 30 Seconds?
According to Leto, "The album is a reaction to our disposable nation where music is made almost in fear that it's got to fit in the certain corporate culture that radio exists in now.
"It's almost like we're living in a scattering of tent cities and mud houses that could be pushed over at any second and we're interested in building a great pyramid something that starts with a really solid foundation and something that's thought through, and has a specific purpose," he says.
Clearly, this band is about more than just music. According to Leto, 30 Seconds is a lifestyle in and of itself.
"What we're interested in doing is fostering a community and connecting with our friends and fans and whoever wants to be a part of it."
Not surprisingly, the Internet has played a key role in the creation of this community. The band's Web site,
30secondstomars.com, allows fans to get directly involved with the band's promotion.
"The Mars army is a general collection of people who are interested in [30 Seconds]," Leto explains. "Within it, there is a group of hardcore, dedicated, super-committed fans called the Echelon, who are really enthusiastic and want to go out and help build our community."
Starting to sound like sci-fi? Well, hold onto your lightsabres that's not what 30 Seconds is about.
"[30 Seconds] is about being human; it's about reality; it's about emotions. We're not interested in science fiction, [or] fantasy in an obvious sense," Leto asserts.
"We like to find the common ground between things and then contrast and show a dynamic within all of them," he adds.
30 Seconds' first single, "Capricorn," is currently in rotation, sending out a powerful message about alienation and identity.
"It's a song that includes people rather than challenging them like some other songs might. That's the job of the song to go out and entice people to take a further listen," Leto continues. "It's like a virus."
Although released as a single, the band prefers to think of "Capricorn" as a small piece of a greater whole.
"We wanted to make a record that was a collection of songs rather than a collection of singles," Leto says. "Something that had cohesiveness and kind of an atmospheric musical story to it, so that if you like one song, you obviously like the rest."
Leto would not reveal what the infamous "glyphics" featured on 30 Seconds' Web site and merchandise represent, but rather states, "We've always been interested in signs and symbols and how they're used in cultures or subcultures it's one of the oldest ways that humans have expressed themselves."
Leto also refutes suggestions that 30 Seconds is attempting to foster a "mysterious" image.
"We're not a band built on image and we'll never be a band built on image," he explains. "We're interested in putting the music and the art and the philosophy and everything else of [30 Seconds] first."
Look out for 30 Seconds to Mars on tour with Incubus this fall. Their debut album hits stores in Canada on Sept. 24.