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30 Seconds To Mars

by Alysa Offman

There are seven billion people in the world, officially. Ten million of them like Thirty Seconds to Mars on Facebook. Ten. Million. Formed 15 years ago, they've only got four albums in their discography, giving a sufficient amount of credence to the cliché "less is more". Fronted by creative jack-of-all-trades Jared Leto and filled out by the singer's brother Shannon Leto and Michigan-native Tomo Milicevic (who kind of looks like a long-lost Jonas Bro, let's face it), the threesome have mastered a massively appealing sound that's captured, en masse, pop music fans the world over. A heady cocktail of arena rock, over-the-top theatrics and pure talent, these dudes can sell out an amphitheatre faster than a Miley Cyrus quote about Detroit can incense an entire city. Add to that a roster of pop punk bands like The Wonder Years, A Day to Remember, Billy Talent and more, and you bes' believe Freedom Hill's two day Chill on the Hill festival is going to be THE place to be on 10/4 and 10/5. Last week we got Shannon Leto to give us a call to discuss all things Thirty Seconds to Mars, Michigan AND Miley.

Of course, one question we couldn't wait to ask Leto was about working with his brother. (As a side and personal note the last project I worked on with my sibling VERY quickly evolved into hair pulling and some VHS tapes were damaged as a result of being used as weapons.) While we're not sure if we believe his answer entirely, it was pretty endearing to hear the older sibling gush about just how talented his younger brother is.

"Working with Jared is great. It's so great. He's so talented and I'm so grateful I get to work with him," he says.

That talent is pretty apparent. Those ten million likes are a pretty good indicator that the general public would tend to agree with Shannon. But because the youngest Leto doesn't just write music and sing, he also curates the band's entire aesthetic, he directs every video ("There was only one music video we had someone else direct," he says. "And it sucked."), it's that creative energy that can probably be held accountable for their ridiculously large fan base.

"I think because we don't try to force anything," says Leto of their mass appeal and why that aesthetic is clearly working for them. "I don't know why it's so appealing, you'd have to ask the fans that I guess, but I think it's because we don't try to force anything on anyone. If you like our music, great. If you don't like it, great."

 

Having just dropped their fourth album this year (BTW, they sent the first official copy to the International Space Station via a rocket, which is cute, right?), Love Lust Faith + Dreams has been heralded as the evolution of Thirty Seconds to Mars, the new stage of their music and the space in which they need to be. According to Leto the catalyst for the change was simply the need to change. Which is admirable.

According to Leto, the trio didn't look to any legendary rock acts who've come before them as a model for the new stage in their careers, nor any current musical groups. Instead, perhaps, it was a collective musical experience that led them to this newest juncture.

"I like everything, really," he says of his musical tastes. "I like hillbilly shit and I really like that song by Lorde, isn't that a great song? I really listen to everything," he says.

He's even a fan of Miss Cyrus. Sure, we were hoping to get some good dirt about him shower singing "It's the Climb" when we asked about his musical guilty pleasures, but it's also nice to know he's got Miley's back.

"I really like Miley. I think she's doing her own thing and she has a great energy and it's really fun," says Leto.

On tour with Love Lust Faith + Dreams until March, the guys already have a slew of sold out dates. But regardless of that fact that they're on stage in front of literally thousands of people night after night, the intoxicating effects haven't quite worn out yet.

"It feels spiritual almost," says Leto of performing. "Like, you're all there for the same reason and you're all participating in the music together."

They'll hit Freedom Hill for the first time ever when they're here on 10/5 to close out the two-day festival and it's a stop on the tour that they're all looking forward to.

"Tomo is from Michigan, you know. So it's cool because all his friends and family come out and we get to go have a good home cooked meal at his family's house. I really look forward to that."