30 Seconds To Mars
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30 Seconds To Mars Biography
30 Seconds To Mars' self-titled 2002 debut established the
group as fresh, new force, revealing a multi-faceted outfit that
thrived on creative exploration and escape. And for their follow-up, A Beautiful Lie, frontman Jared Leto wanted to explore an entirely new, far more confessional sonic landscape.
On the first record I created a world, then hid behind it, Leto says. With A Beautiful Lie,
it was time to take a more personal and less cerebral approach.
Although this record is still full of conceptual elements and thematic
ideas it is ultimately much more wrapped around the heart than the
head. It's about brutal honesty, growth, change. It's an incredibly
intimate look into a life that is in the crossroads. A raw emotional
journey. A story of life, love, death, pain, joy, and passion. Of what
it is to be human.
In addition to being more lyrically direct, A Beautiful Lie
has undergone a musical transformation as well. Progressive,
multi-tracked passages have been replaced by leaner and far more
impacting constructs and some of the eclecticism has been focused in
order to compliment the honesty of the songwriting. We wanted to focus
on the insides of the song, Jared says. To cut away anything
extraneous. To get to the truth of it all. For us, it wasn't about how
much we could do but about how little. That was the beginning of a lot
of challenges. I worked hard to create something very special and
different the first time around, sonically and conceptually. And that
first CD will always be that, no matter what. But, in order to move
forward you have to leave some things behind. That was not always the
easiest thing to do. In some ways, it was the birth of something new
and the death of something old.
The results are transcendent. The first single, Attack, is a dynamic
expression of rebirth and renewal that features energetic keyboards,
vast, abrasive guitars, and infectious vocals, which soar from a
pain-stricken wail to an intimate whisper. The Kill is more
reflective, driven by beautifully complex guitars and a primal beat
that segue into an epic, anthemic refrain, and Was It A Dream is an
intimate, melodic, and surreal experience, pulsing with a moody rhythm
that's equally redolent of the Cure and U2.
We needed this album to be something that reset the bar for us, Leto
says. As proud as we are of our previous efforts, I really wanted to
destroy the first record by making a second one. The last thing we
wanted to do was make the same record twice.
It was important for it to be emotionally accessible, and also
stripped down and raw, says Jared's brother, drummer Shannon. We
needed this record to sound really genuine and honest.
Dramatic transformation often comes at a price and 30 Seconds To Mars
is no exception. The musical and lyrical changes that resonate
throughout A Beautiful Lie
reflect the sometimes painful development Jared and his bandmates
underwent before and during the creation of the record. There were a
lot of intense changes taking place for us during the making of this
project, personally and artistically, Jared says. Change was an
important theme this time around and you can feel it. However, as dark
and reflective as some of the moments on this CD can be, there is
always a huge sense of optimism and celebration. It was a battle. And
in a way, it's about going to war. Going to war with yourself and
Jared is no stranger to winning. In addition to fronting a successful
rock band, he has acted in over 15 acclaimed films, including Requiem For A Dream, Panic Room, Fight Club, American Psycho, and Alexander.
And the fact that a great many gifted thespians have pumped out some
pretty awful albums hasn't slowed him at all. Any time you have a
precedent that's negative like that, you're gonna have an uphill
battle, he agrees. I've never shied away from that.
When we toured for the last album, we were going to war every night,
adds Shannon. We played well over 300 shows, and eventually we won
that battle. Now that we've accomplished that, this record was more
about us continuing to grow and make really great songs.
Jared started penning A Beautiful Lie
during the tour for the band's debut, and eventually ended up writing
the album in five different countries on four different continents and
recording from L.A. to N.Y.C. to South Africa. The title track and
three other songs were composed in Cape Town, South Africa, and
eventually the bandmates joined him in South Africa to work on the
tracks. It was during this period that Jared came up with the title for
I was living in this house overlooking the ocean and it was
breathtakingly beautiful, he explains. But amidst all of this, there
was an overwhelming amount of contradiction between the beauty of
nature and the destruction of man. I saw this a lot as I traveled the
world from Asia to Europe and at home. It made me think about these
contradictions in life, the choices we make to believe in something at
the cost of something else, whether it's being in a relationship or
going to war. But there's something incredibly inspiring, optimistic,
and romantic about making those choices. Especially considering that no
matter what, we all collectively choose to keep moving forward.
Joining the Leto brothers in the studio for the first time were
guitarist Tomo Milicevic and bassist Matt Wachter, both of whom toured
for the first 30 Seconds To Mars album. On that disc, Jared recorded
all of the guitar, bass, and synth parts as well as the vocals, with
Shannon playing the drums, but this time, a more collaborative route
developed, which was new and exciting, but very challenging as well.
Ultimately, it resulted in a very rewarding and productive
At first we weren't really sure what our role was gonna be, Milicevic
says. But it became more defined as time went on. Jared would bring in
the songs and we would all help shape them into what they became, which
wasn't always easy. I think the mantra for this record should be,
'Through great struggle comes great art.'
It was a little strange to have other people involved in the process
because I can be very protective of the music, admits Jared. In the
past, it was very difficult for me to let other people participate
because it was such a special, private, and personal experience for my
brother and I. Now, for the first time, we have a group of four people
who have the same vision, share the same tastes and dreams. And it's
amazing because we all work so well together.
For their last album, 30 Seconds To Mars entered the studio with
legendary producer Bob Ezrin. This time, they recruited Josh Abraham,
who produced the Grammy winning Velvet Revolver record. 30 Seconds To
Mars began in April 2004 and worked on and off in six different studios
before finishing the album. Jared credits Abraham for expediting the
I'm very methodical and obsessive and will beat something to death to
get something right, and Josh isn't like that at all, he says. He
likes to keep things organic. He doesn't over-think or overdo anything,
which helped keep things sounding spontaneous.
We didn't do 10 million takes of everything, which is maybe why the
record has a really raw feel, Wachter says. It became more about
capturing the initial thought, the first expression.
30 Seconds To Mars wrote 40 songs for A Beautiful Lie
before paring it down to the 10 that appear on the album. Making the
cuts wasn't only difficult, it was emotionally draining. It wasn't a
case of Jared being unable to toss his babies into the sea, it was more
a matter of the singer prematurely throwing away too many of his
offspring. At one point or another, he scrapped, The Kill, From
Yesterday, The Story, and even Attack.
I had worked on that song from Morocco to Thailand to L.A. and it
always worked when I played it by myself on acoustic guitar, but for
some reason we couldn't bring the song to life with the band, so I
tossed it, Jared says. Then one night I was sitting outside with my
acoustic guitar and Josh Abraham walked out. As a joke I said very
sarcastically, 'Hey, you wanna hear a hit song?' And, I started playing
'Attack' on the acoustic. After the first chorus, he stopped me and
said, 'That's the best song you have. We have to record that.' Now its
our first single.
From start to finish, A Beautiful Lie
is a story riddled with pain, frustration, ambition, and ultimately
purification. It's not a concept album per se, but it's certainly
conceptual, unraveling like scenes from a spellbinding film about a man
on the precipice of collapse who has to change in order to move forward.
Change was an important theme for all of us this time around and a
cycle that everyone goes through many times in their lives, Jared
explains. I wanted each song to be like a chapter in a book. Together,
they add up to make the story, but individually, every chapter has to
have its own color, its own expression, its own personality.
From the surreal, ominous strains of the title track to the throbbing
beat of The Fantasy, from the pensive, acoustic strumming of A
Modern Myth, to the melancholy melody of The Story, A Beautiful Lie is a bracing soundtrack to a life in turmoil and a testament to the durability of the human spirit.
I've always been inspired by bands that express different emotions and
paint vivid pictures with sound, like U2, the Cure, Zeppelin, Pink
Floyd, Jared says. But we're also interested in being as modern as we
can. We're striving to do something different, to look forward rather
than back, to be free from the shadows of our inspiration, and to
continue, with our voice to make our mark.
Written by Record Label