30 Seconds To Mars
Musician's attempts at acting rarely work. Actors playing music fares only slightly better. When a person spends the emotional and creative energy to master acting there is little left for anything else. On the other hand, all actors, even the most successful, have recurring spells of unemployment. They can either tear up Hollywood and wind up on the cover of the gossip rags or fill their time more productively.
Jared Leto has a pretty impressive list of film credits including Requiem For Dream, Panic Room, Fight Club (with Brad Pitt), American Psycho and Alexander (with Pitt again). He has another notable accomplishment: the founder and leader of 30 Seconds To Mars.
Leto wrote and recorded 30 Seconds To Mars' '02 self-titled debut using only his brother, Shannon, on drums. In order to tour, the Leto brothers added guitarist Tomo Milicevic and bassist Matt Wachter. The latter two eventually became band members and worked on the group's sophomore effort "A Beautiful Lie," containing the hit, "The Kill."
The album was certified platinum (one million units sold) in early '06. Later in the year, 30 Seconds To Mars won the MTV2 Award for "The Kill" and went on the MTV2 sponsored "Welcome to the Universe" tour. The trek had an environmental leaning with the band using vegetable oil to fuel the bus, among other earth-friendly innovations.
With work underway on their third album, 30 Seconds To Mars was hit with a $30-million dollar lawsuit. Their label, Virgin Records, claimed the band had refused to deliver three albums as contractually obligated. However, it was the group's opinion that they were no long bound by the contract.
30 Seconds To Mars eventually returned to the fold and the lawsuit was dropped. But "This Is War" had its release date pushed back from April to September before finally dropping in December, '09.
"I think this record is about faith, about spiritual matters, and that just happens to be what we're thinking about and talking about in our lives right now," said Leto of "This Is War." "I said when the last album came out that I wanted to destroy the first record, which I think we did. We took a dramatic turn from the first to the second, and I think this new record follows that path."
As a result, 30 Seconds To Mars took home the Best International Band honor at the 17th annual (2010) Kerrang! Awards in London.
To promote "Love Lust Faith + Dreams," 30 Seconds To Mars fourth studio album, the group debuted the single "Up In The Air" from the SpaceX cargo mission, where it was played by astronauts on the International Space Station. The Leto brothers, along with Milicevic, also phoned LA's KROQ morning show hosts Kevin & Bean to talk about the track. In addition, Houston mayor, Annise D. Parker, proclaimed Thirty Seconds To Mars Day. A
"It's a nice way to start things off," said Leto of the album. "This is a brand new experience for us. This album is a completely new direction. It's more than even an evolution, it's a brand new beginning."
The '13 album's cover art featured "Isonicotinic Acid Ethyl Ester" (2010 - 2011), collection of colored dots by artist Damien Hirst.
Also on a visual note, 30 Seconds To Mars took home the Best Rock Video statuette for "Up In The Air" at the '13 Video Music Awards. They beat out Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive," Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light 'Em Up)" and Vampire Weekend's "Diane Young."
Visually yet again, Leto's acting career got a big boost in '14 when he was awarded a Best Supporting Oscar for his performance as a transvestite dying from AIDs in the film Dallas Buyers Club. Leto even made a heartfelt acceptance speech - thanking his family.
Leto notched another film credit in '16 playing DC Comics villain The Joker in Suicide Squad. But the film received bad reviews and Leto's role was reduced to the point that he was hardly in the final cut. He claimed his deleted scenes from Suicide Squad deserved their own movie.
2002 30 Seconds To Mars
2005 A Beautiful Lie
2009 This Is War
2013 Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams
30 Seconds To Mars' self-titled debut could be dismissed as a vanity project. "Fallen" has the line, "yeah, I have been to Jupiter," sung with breathy seriousness.
Given the group's name it's not surprising there are cosmic references. Check the song titles: "Edge Of Earth," "Welcome To The Universe" and "3 Million Miles" (the distance the earth is from the sun).
The album is disjointed in places but does manage to focus occasionally and produce some engaging songs: "Edge Of Earth," "The Mission" and Year Zero."
Everything that is attempted on the debut is better executed on "A Beautiful Lie" which charts a leaner more direct course. Written while on tour, Leto reportedly composed over 40 songs before deciding on the final set. There's the arena Rock oriented "The Kill," the powerful "Attack" and the somber "Was It A Dream." "The Fantasy" and "Savior" also connect
The whole idea of working with a big name producer like Steve Lillywhite (U2) or Flood (U2 again) is to get the epic, majestic sound. 30 Seconds To Mars achieves just that on "This Is War's" lead single, "Kings And Queens," which is highly reminiscent of a certain major band from Dublin. "Stranger In A Strange Land" is a dose of '80s synth darkness that is both edgy and catchy. "Vox Populi" is a cross between Pink Floyd (from "The Wall" era) and The Who. Weird but works. "Night Of The Hunter" and the title track allow Leto some breathy urgency.
Occasionally, the overall seriousness does cause things to drag but 30 Seconds To Mars are still able to cut loose on "Closer To The Edge" and "Search And Destroy."
Dance Rock tracks "Up In The Air" and "The Race" are the only songs worth mentioning on "Love Lust Faith + Dreams." And those synth drenched efforts aren't all that great either. Sadly, 30 Seconds To Mars seem cast adrift in deep space.