30 Seconds to Mars Frontman Looks at 'War' in Many Ways
30 Seconds to Mars are on a well-deserved victory lap following the release of their third album, 'This Is War,' on Dec. 8 via Virgin/EMI. The alt-rockers' follow-up to 2005's 'A Beautiful Lie' scored a debut at 19 on the Billboard 200, and the band is ready to spend 2010 touring behind the more progressive album. Fans also got into the act on the album, with in-person and digital 'summits' allowing fans across the globe to contribute claps, stomps and vocals to 'War.' Frontman Jared Leto recently chatted with Noisecreep about the direction of the album and keeping the fans the number one priority.
What does a title as immediate as 'This Is War' reflect about the album?
It was a reflection of the recording process, of our personal lives, and of the state of the world while we made this record. It was a very intense time globally, but also a really fertile time to be making art.
You've described 'War' as a loose concept album. What kind of message were you trying to make with the songwriting?
Well, that changes from song to song. There are songs like 'Kings & Queens' that have to do with the potentials and pitfalls of the American dream, and then songs like 'This Is War,' which is one of the most politically-charged songs I've ever written -- but also has to do with self-belief and perseverance. It was just a journey to get to the core of who we were as artists, to rediscover and reinvent. The great thing about making music is that you always have the opportunity to do that.
How did you come up with the whole summit idea?
I was looking for ways to add an interactive element to this album, and I thought that it would be really inspiring to invite our audience -- the people out there that have joined us in this crazy adventure -- to be a part of this record. Almost all of the contributions made it [onto the album]. When we did the first Summit in Los Angeles, I remember when we recorded the very first sound, we knew that we had something very special.
Did the final version of the album turn out the way you initially envisioned?
It's easy as a writer to focus on areas that you didn't succeed as much as you had hoped, but I think we did accomplish what we set out to, and that was to walk down a different path and to explore different sides of ourselves.
How did you guys celebrate the release of the album in December?
We did a warm-up tour in Europe, and in America we played some radio festivals, we did '[The Tonight Show with] Conan O'Brien' and a couple of acoustic performances. We really celebrated the release with some good old-fashioned hard work, and that was exactly how we wanted to spend the time. It's been four years since we put a record out, so we didn't know if anyone was going to remember who we were. We certainly didn't take it for granted, and we're just happy that people were out there listening to the record and responding to it so passionately.