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30 Seconds to Mars

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Formed in 1998 by frontman Jared Leto and his older brother, 30 Seconds to Mars found success in the 2000s with a mix of post-grunge, screamo, and hard rock. The band gained a modest audience with its debut album, but it was the platinum-selling sophomore effort A Beautiful Lie that officially opened the flood gates in 2005, securing the band a frequent presence on MTV while paving the way for a number of successful tours. By placing all-access passes into 12 copies of the album, the bandmates also showed a savvy appreciation for marketing, which they revisited several years later by putting fans’ photographs on the cover of their third album, This Is War.

Initially known for his work as an actor (most notably on the ’90s TV drama My So-Called Life, as well as movies like Requiem for a Dream and Fight Club), Jared Leto decided to flex his musical muscles as he approached his 30s. He enlisted the help of his brother, drummer Shannon Leto, and co-founded 30 Seconds to Mars in 1998. The group made its studio debut four years later, releasing a self-titled album whose post-grunge sound showed an affinity for groups like Chevelle and Incubus. Although only modestly successful, the album convinced the bandmates to continue making music in spite of Jared Leto’s busy acting schedule, which had filled up with roles in Panic Room, Highway, American Pyscho, and Requiem for a Dream.

30 Seconds to Mars is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1998. The band features actor Jared Leto as vocalist, rhythm guitarist and songwriter.



Founded in 1998 by Jared Leto’s brother Shannon Leto, 30 Seconds to Mars began as a small family project. Matt Wachter later joined the band as bassist and keyboard player. After working with a number of guitarists (as the band’s first two guitarists, Kevin Drake and Solon Bixler, left the band due to issues primarily related to touring), the three auditioned Tomo Mili?evi? to round out the band’s roster.

According to an interview from Virgin Records, the band’s name

“actually comes from a thesis that the band found online that was written by a former Harvard professor. And one of the subsections of the thesis was titled ‘thirty seconds to mars ‘ and he goes on to talk about the exponential growth of technology that relates to humans and saying that we are quite literally thirty seconds to mars. What it means to us is, we thought it best described our music, in short.”

Even though Leto is a major Hollywood actor, he prefers not to use this information to “sell” the band; in fact, Leto hates attention given to himself more than the band so much that he refuses to play shows if they have used his name as a movie star to promote the band.

Self-titled debut album (2002?2005)
30 Seconds to Mars at KROQ-FM in 2007.

The band’s debut self-titled album, produced by Bob Ezrin was released in 2002 to mixed reviews. The album produced two singles, Capricorn (A Brand New Name) and Edge of the Earth. The former peaked at #31 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart.

A Beautiful Lie (2005?2008)

Their sophomore album, A Beautiful Lie, was released on August 30, 2005. Because the album was leaked five months before its release, the band decided to include two bonus tracks: “Battle of One” (an original song that was also set to be the album’s title track when it was first announced) and “Hunter” (a cover of the Bj?rk song). To further promote the album, the band also enclosed “golden tickets” in 12 copies, which granted their owners access to any 30 Seconds to Mars concert free of charge, along with backstage access.

“The Kill” (2005)
Sample of the song “The Kill” from the 30 Seconds to Mars’ second album A Beautiful Lie.
“From Yesterday” (2005)
Sample of the song “From Yesterday” from 30 Seconds to Mars’ second album A Beautiful Lie.

On August 31, 2006, the band won the MTV2 Award for “The Kill” at the MTV Video Music Awards, one of their two nominations. The second nomination was for Best Rock Video; however, they lost to AFI’s “Miss Murder”. In the video, members of the band reenact scenes from The Shining. A Beautiful Lie was certified platinum by the RIAA in January for distribution of over one million albums.

In 2006, while on the MTVu $2 Bill Tour, the band did a signing with Music Saves Lives, drawing people to the importance of the non-profit.

In October, the band began their “Welcome to the Universe” tour, sponsored by MTV2. They were supported on this tour by Head Automatica, The Receiving End of Sirens, Cobra Starship, Rock Kills Kid, and several other bands including Street Drum Corps. The tour was “environmentally sound” according to a 2006 interview with then-bassist Matt Wachter. “Jared and Shannon put together this thing called Environmentour which is illustrating ways?alternatives?to kind of clean up some of the mess we leave behind. We fueled the bus with vegetable oil,” he explains. On November 20, MTV2 premiered the video for “From Yesterday”; the video is the first American rock video ever shot in its entirety in the People’s Republic of China. The music video is loosely based on the film The Last Emperor.

On April 29, 2007, the band performed at the Australian MTV Australia Video Music Awards, where they were nominated for three awards, winning “Best Rock Video” and “Video of the Year” for “The Kill”.

As of Spring 2007, the band is supporting The Used as a part of the “Taste of Chaos” tour and have scheduled a string of dates in Europe supporting Linkin Park. They are also scheduled to play Roskilde, Rock am Ring, Pinkpop, Give It A Name Festival and Download. 30 Seconds to Mars were one of the hosts for the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008. While on the 2007 Taste of Chaos the band also did and interview with Music Saves Lives.

On March 21, 2008, 30 Seconds to Mars performed at ‘My Coke Fest’ in South Africa, which saw the band back on South African soil since the inception and recording of A Beautiful Lie. At a Press Conference Leto describe the experience as deeply personal, with the added hope that some new material may see the light of day on African Soil. The band played to a sold-out crowd in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Virgin Records lawsuit and This Is War (2008 onward)

Following other commitments, they will begin working on their third album. As heard in the MTV Malaysia interview with Leto, he announces they are currently in the middle of the new album. Some of the songs seem to have been performed at their overseas tour.

However, in August 2008, Virgin Records filed a $30 million lawsuit, claiming the band refused to deliver three albums as required by its contract. According to the lawsuit, the band “repudiated” a 1999 contract in July. In an early 2009 interview with MTV, Jared said that they hope to have their third album out by summer 2009, and he also gave information about the meaning behind the record saying, “I think this record is about faith, about spiritual matters, and that just happens to be what we’re thinking about and talking about in our lives right now. I said when the last album came out that I wanted to destroy the first record, which I think we did. We took a dramatic turn from the first to the second, and I think this new record follows that path. It’s exciting to us, and we’re really passionate about it.”

In the February 11 issue of Kerrang! magazine, the working title for the new album is said to be This Is War.

30 Seconds to Mars at TRL Italy.

Jared released a bit of information about his trip to Hawaii, and recorded a song called “Hurricane” with Kanye West.

On April 28, they returned from EMI and the lawsuit was annulled.

Soon after the announcement of the lawsuit settlement, Jared and 30 Seconds To Mars told MTV News that their third album has had its release date pushed back from April 2009 to some time in September 2009. Although these dates have been changed many times, 30 Seconds to Mars have announced that This Is War will be released December 8, 2009.


Main article: List of awards and nominations received by 30 Seconds to Mars
30 Seconds to Mars at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008.

On August 8, 2007, Kerrang! announced that 30 Seconds to Mars has been nominated for two categories of the Kerrang! Awards 2007; “Best International Newcomer” and “Best Single” ? “The Kill”. On August 24 they had only won the award for Best Single, which was “The Kill”. The other award was lost to Madina Lake.

On November 1, 2007, the band won the MTV Europe Music Award for “Rock Out”, one of the two categories they were nominated in.

On December 21, 2007, 30 Seconds to Mars won Fuse’s Best of 2007 Award. They won in competition against Korn and had amassed over 7 million votes. 31 other bands and artists such as Muse, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance and Avenged Sevenfold were also included in the contest.

On August 2, 2008, 30 Seconds to Mars won the “Video Star” awards for “A Beautiful Lie” music video at MTV Asia Awards 2008, in Genting, Malaysia.

30 Seconds to Mars at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. From left to right: Tomo Mili?evi?, Jared Leto, Shannon Leto, Matt Wachter.

On August 21, 2008, 30 Seconds To Mars won two of the four Kerrang! Awards that they were nominated for. The band won “Best International Band” and “Best Single ? From Yesterday”.

On October 16 2008 they won “Best International Rock Artist” at the Los Premios MTV Latinoam?rica 2008.

On November 6, 2008, they were the VIP section hosts of the MTV Europe Music Awards, interviewing the likes of Kid Rock, Anastacia and Sugababes. They added to their collection with an MTV EMA “Video Star” for “A Beautiful Lie” and the “Rock Out” award, claiming that nearly all of their success is down to their fans.

The “A Beautiful Lie” video was certified gold by MTV International.


The band’s phoenix logo (which the band named “Mithra”) bears the phrase “Provehito in Altum”, the band’s motto. Roughly translated from Latin, this means “Launch forth into the deep”; but a more stylized version would be “Rocket in(to) High(ness)”. The logo was primarily used for promotion of the band’s debut, whereas for A Beautiful Lie, the new Trinity logo was created consisting of three skulls and three arrows pointing inwards, along with the band’s name and motto.

Band members

Current members
Jared Leto ? lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1998?present)
Shannon Leto ? drums, percussion (1998?present)
Tomo Mili?evi? ? lead guitar, violin, keyboards (2003?present)
Former members
Matt Wachter ? bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizer (2001?2007)
Solon Bixler ? guitar (2000?2003)
Kevin Drake ? guitar (1999?2001)
Touring members
Tim Kelleher ? bass guitar, keyboards (2007?present)

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