30-Seconds-to-Mars-Issue-No2830 SECONDS TO MARS

The post-grunge rockers shoot for the stars on their latest effort 

With a name like 30 Seconds to Mars, they expect jokes about space. But the L.A.-based band got the last laugh when they sent a copy of “Up in the Air,” the first single from their latest album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, to the International Space Station. “We went to see the rocket go up,” says drummer Shannon Leto. “And a couple of weeks later we went to mission control and talked with an astronaut. We asked, ‘Did you get the present we sent?’ He’s like, ‘Sure did!’ He pulls it out, he spins it. We were blown away.”

Leto, along with his brother Jared—the band’s main songwriter—and guitarist Tomo Milicevic, had lofty ambitions for their fourth full-length album. “We were divorcing the old ideas that we had in the recording process,” says Leto. “We always want to do something different for each album and challenge ourselves. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.” Though the album was primarily self-produced, the band made a nod to their previous work by bringing back producer Steve Lillywhite to collaborate on four tracks. “He’s just a mad scientist. We appreciate his efforts,” says Leto.

The group also wanted to move beyond previous tribulations. After recording 2009’s This Is War under the shadow of a $30 million lawsuit from their label, the sessions for Love Lust Faith + Dreams proved much more positive. “We were freer to do what we wanted, and it’s a lot more celebratory. It’s a lot more us,” says Leto. “It’s more stripped-down than previous albums. It’s still wide in scope, but it’s a lot different. There are fewer things going on. It’s more poignant in a way.”

Part of that poignancy stems from the lyrical themes of the record’s title. “Each of those words, ‘love,’ ‘lust,’ ‘faith’ and ‘dreams,’ is mentioned in all our songs. Those are the ingredients of the songs,” says Leto. “We possess all those desires and emotions, and we thought it was an interesting title. My brother at one point wanted to have this one word describe the album, but it turned into these four separate words, none of which is more important than the others. It painted a more interesting picture.”

The band is optimistic that the album will surprise people in a good way. Says Leto, “My brother said, ‘I think this album is going to make it OK to like 30 Seconds to Mars.’ I think he’s right. It’s going to reach a broader audience.”

–Amanda Farah


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