celebrity and into the cosmos
By Jared Horney
pretty-faced actor Jared Leto on the bad end of Edward Norton’s’ fist
in “Fight Club”? How about his emotionally-draining role as a heroin
junkie in “Requiem for a Dream”? Leto has enjoyed success as a film
star but in the past couple years turned his energy to another project:
his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, with brother Shannon Leto on drums.
hearing that another celebrity has taken the leap into the musical
field, many are quick to dismiss them. After all, previous forays
by actors such as Keanu Reeves and Russell Crowe haven’t exactly valiantly
paved the way for such acts. But in a very risky genre of actor cum
musician, 30 Seconds to Mars emerges as a project with a beating heart.
to the point that it played a substantial role in his breakup with
Cameron Diaz, Leto has had this album in his head for quite some time.
Riddled with a slight obsession with the cosmos, a throwback appreciation
of synthesizers and guitar effects, and Leto’s limited but fine vocals,
their 2002 self-titled debut release has surprised many people waiting
to pounce and dismiss it as just another celebrity-fueled act with
no talent. They’ve got talent – and a decidedly catchy, epic sound.
“epic” sound isn’t one in the vein of Godspeed You Black Emperor,
nor the veritable noisefest of Mogwai, but has one foot in the arena
of contemporary rock and the other comfortably couched in decadence.
There are no long-winded drum solos to be found, but rather appropriate
verse/choruses condensed into slices of average song length. The sound
is full and rich thanks to the near overproduction of Bob Ezrin, who
has produced albums by KISS and Pink Floyd. With a famous producer
and famous singer, what’s to go wrong?
not much. 30 Seconds to Mars consistently downplays Leto’s celebrity,
going as far as shadowing his face in press-release photos. While
Leto is farthest away and blurry in some photos of the band, he’s
every bit a frontman. Wielding a sort of crazed exuberance and thrill
in his devotion to his band, he’s made it awfully difficult for naysayers
(and with a celebrity in the band, there are plenty) to proceed with
said nay-saying. Leto seems to have the stance of someone who’s been
waiting for this moment for years. Between thick layers of guitars
and an almost tribal-like quality to the drums, Leto’s cosmic ramblings
Seconds to Mars is also not shy about their appreciation of their
fans, of which any music fan will recognize the importance. Establishing
their fan base as the “Echelon,” the message board on the band’s official
site is alive and well. Because of fans’ devotion, there are links
from the site to many competently run fan sites.
direction recently has been largely towards his band, and with their
velocity, people will start recognizing the band for their music and
less for their frontman. Already, they’ve enjoyed relative success
with the album’s opener and first single, “Capricorn.” Available to
listen to on the official site, it’s a promise that if you enjoy it,
you’ll enjoy the rest of the album. This is no hit-or-miss; the theme
is constant. Heavy on the echoes and light on the minimalism, 30 Seconds
to Mars seems intent, with the aid of a star, on going right to the
Related link: 30 Seconds to Mars' official site