What do you do when faced with an interview with lead singer and Hollywood heartthrob Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars? First you read all about him and his band, how they formed over 10 years ago, how they sold over 3.5 million albums worldwide and how they won over fans city by city in the face of an obscene legal battle. Then you pick up the phone, dial the international code and get ready for war.
Hey Jared, this is JUICE.
Hi there. Yeah, I’ve heard of you guys.
Yeah, you’re infamous.
So what did you have for lunch today?
Well, it’s almost dinner time here but I had some humus, and some salad and tomato soup.
Nice. It’s been a decade since 30 Seconds to Mars started. Do you still remember your first jam session?
It was pretty interesting, pretty magical. The beginning is an exciting time.
How is it different now in terms of your sound and mentality?
I think you become more of who you really are. You transform, you have fun. It’s a process, a journey and an adventure.
What kind of music were you interested in then and what about now?
When I was a kid I was listening to Led Zeppelin, and now I’m listening to all kinds of different music. But I’ve always been interested in music that has some atmosphere, depth and originality to it.
What was your favourite line from a song when you were growing up?
The first line of ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ by Nirvana because it’s unexpected and unique, truthful.
The band’s 2nd album is titled A Beautiful Lie. Do you believe that withholding the truth for the sake of peace and stability is justifiable?
Well, that’s a philosophical question. At the end of the day, what is the truth and what is not? I think we have an innate sense of what right and wrong is, but I like the title a lot because of the contradiction-the questions that are kind of raised and the issues that were raised. I liked that it was appropriate at this time of our lives.
You guys are strong advocates of environmental conservation, particularly renewable energy. You use vegetable oil for your tour bus. What can normal people do to go into renewable energy?
Well, you can turn off your lights when you leave a room. You can do very small things to make an impact. You can use energy efficient light bulbs. You can contribute or volunteer for everything from the planting of trees to other environmental concerns and get in on the action. You can visit us at abeautifullie.org.
Did your music video ‘From Yesterday’, which was shot in China, really cost 12 million dollars to make?
No, that’s a rumour. That’s not the truth. It cost like a few hundred thousands dollars. It was reported in a magazine that it cost 12 million dollars, which is not true. I just made it look like it cost 12 million dollars.
Yes, you do have that theatrical effect. Do you feel that people kind of identify with your songs because of the music videos?
It’s an opportunity to further the identity of the songs. To say something new and interesting, and to have an experience that is unforgettable.
Do you think the songs would be perceived the same way without the music videos?
No, I think it changes the songs. I think that when you find the right image and sound to work together, it’s hard to beat that.
You lived in Haiti before. How do you feel about the situation there and how can other people help?
It’s a tragic and brutal thing that’s happened. I would encourage anybody that hasn’t contributed yet to do their best and contribute, and lend a helping hand any way that they can. It’s important and inspiring that so many people from around the world have come together and contributed. And that’s a wonderful thing.
Out of all your songs, which is your personal favourite and why?
I don’t really have a personal favourite. They represent different things to me and different periods of my life. Of the process of writing this record, it’s all part of the same story.
Is it true that you like to breakdance?
I don’t understand the question…
Never mind, we’ve got more important things to talk about. Your band’s motto in Latin, Provehit in Altum, translated means “Launch forth into the deep”. That sounds very Star Trek-y. Are you guys big sci-fi fans?
Not specifically. I mean, that’s really more of an encouragement. A motto or slogan to remind ourselves to live our dreams.
Did you name your latest album This Is War in retaliation to your legal dispute with Virgin Records?
In part, yes.
Is it true you’re the sole lyricist for the band?
Yes, that’s true.
Do you take your lyric-writing sacredly?
Yes, I take it sacredly. It’s an important part of the process.
You’ve been to Malaysia before. How did you find it and are you coming back again?
Beautiful place, wonderful people. I really enjoyed it. I’d love to come play a show in Malaysia this year, and sooner rather than later.
Recently, there has been a lot of animosity towards foreign artists that come to Malaysia by certain fanatical parties. For example, they won’t let Beyoncé play here because they say that she exposes her body too much. What’s your opinion on this?
Well, I never heard that before. I would hope that we have the opportunity to come play and to have this experience with the people of Malaysia. That is what is important for us: to share an experience with a different culture and people of such a beautiful country.
Alright, Jared. Thank you very much for your time.
Hey, thank you and I hope to meet you in person when we head down to Malaysia.
Cool. We can hang out.
Yeah, let’s hang out and I promise to keep my clothes on.
Okay. I promise not to stone you.
Okay, thank you. Appreciate that.
Ben Liew never got to hangout with Jared Leto.
This Is War is available now at all good record shops. Don’t miss the blast off, get more of 30 Seconds to Mars at www.thirtysecondstomars.com.