JARED LETO is an interesting guy. While it’s difficult to get the frontman of 30 SECONDS TO MARS to open up, once he begins, he offers up a wealth of information–so much, in fact, that we couldn’t fit half of it in our cover story for AP 260. Here’s just some of what Leto let us in on.


What was the first instrument you ever bought?

“It was a Roland Juno-106 which is now a vintage synthesizer. It’s hilarious that I could own something that was brand new in the store when I bought it and now it’s vintage. I was 12 years old. I never played it very well and I never figured it out. As a kid, that was complex machinery.”

You played in a “Depeche Mode-esque” band when you were younger, and your producer, Flood, has produced for Depeche Mode. Are you a DM fan?

“Huge fan. We actually used the same exact sequencer that was used on [Depeche Mode’s 1990 album] Violator. I believe it was also used on [U2’s 1991 album] Achtung Baby. That sequencer is used on “Hurricane” and “Night Of The Hunter.” It’s the same, exact machine. There’s something about those [synth] sounds that are so nostalgic to me.”

How did you get the word out about :30TM in the early days?

“We were really children of the Napster age. The great thing about that was that people could find our music and there was this sense of anonymity to it. It was just a file that said, ‘30 Seconds To Mars’ and people were trading that. We were so grateful to have been born into that world–the file-sharing world. It was a blessing. The internet was much different back then. It was hard to get a picture [online], more or less a video. There was a certain level of anonymity there and it was just about the music.”

How does Tomo [Milicevic, guitar] fit in compared to past members?

“My brother [Shannon Leto, drums] and I have always been the core of this project. It’s just how it started–with us. We’ve had other musicians play with us before but no one has been a part of it in the way that Tomo has. No one has believed in it the way he has–wholeheartedly without reservation. He’s in it with the purest of intentions. It’s wonderful to have found that. Tomo will often elevate an entire song just with a brush stroke. He’s gifted in that way.”

How do you feel about your brother as a member of the band?

“Shannon is obviously the most talented of us all. He’s got the purest form of expression. It’s very unique–his intention from the very beginning comes from a place of complete abandon. He makes 30 Seconds To Mars unique. His choices are so surprising.”

You wrote some of This Is War around the world, didn’t you?

"I wrote ‘Hurricane’ in Berlin during the winter of 2007. I was in a flat on the top floor of this building in an area called Prince Lauenburg in former East Berlin. It’s a very interesting city at that time of year. In the winter, it gets dark at about 3 p.m., so it can be really bleak. But there’s a life and an energy in that city that’s really inspiring. A lot of artists over the years have had really productive experiences there. One or two of the songs [on This Is War] were born in Berlin, ‘Hurricane’ being the one that comes to mind. I demoed a version over there that was a much more up-tempo version, but when I got back to the U.S., I reworked it and revisited it as a much more sparse, atmospheric song.”

How do you feel about the way your lawsuit with Virgin was perceived in the public?

“This fight was very real. It wasn’t some glib press quote or something. It was very real. It was a $30 million lawsuit, and there was a possibility that we could’ve lost and owed $30 million to a corporation. Just to clarify, just because we didn’t lose, it doesn’t mean we won $30 million. We were just being sued for that. We were sued by [Virgin], so we were forced to hire lawyers to protect ourselves. [Virgin] had money for days. We were fighting an industry, really; it wasn’t just one record company–it was the status quo.”

What do you listen to?

“Really, I just listen to the Cure. As far as newer bands, I like Sigur Rós a lot. I don’t listen to a lot of rock music. I haven’t in many, many years. I listen to a lot of older music. But I did like the M83’s [20008 album Saturdays = Youth] and I like Fever Ray. But when I was making This Is War, I didn’t listen to music for two years because I was making music 15 hours a day or more.”

What plans do you have for the Summit–the collective of fans who lent their voices to the new album?

“The Summit is people who are participating in this giant, incredible journey–this experiment–with us for no other reason except that they believe. They’ve found something here that’s very special and means something and is true and honest and real. I’m grateful to them for that. I always will be. We’re plotting and planning to try and put into place some ideas that I had about how to take it a step further and literally make the Summit an active part of the show. [If you’re at one of our shows,] it already is, as you can hear.” alt