What would you do if you were alone with Jared Leto for 10 minutes on his big, luxurious tour bus?
Our chance to sit down with the half rock-star, half actor did not turn out exactly like a lot of people would imagine, but it was still one of the best experiences of our lives.
Sitting across from us in the tour bus living room, Leto actually asked us if we had ever heard of his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. The band is a four-piece rock group fronted by Jared Leto and his younger brother Shannon Leto covers percussion. The group also features the talents of Matt Wachter and Tomo Milicevic. Having been fans for quite some time, we knew all about the explosive alternative rock band, which is currently on their first headlining tour, “Forever Night, Never Day,” which has gotten off to a great start.
“The tour has been amazing. Last night, we played a sold out show in Dallas for around 1,400 people. There was great energy and a great vibe,” Leto said.
The show in Houston at the Engine Room was also sold out, but to a smaller, more personal crowd. The band had played a show in the same location years before but to an audience of around 20 people.
“It’ll be fun to play a sold out show here. It’s nice to see the growth,” Leto said, as a crowd of many more than 20 began forming a line outside the doors to the venue. “It’s great to see a bunch of strangers come together. It’s very personal.”
The Houston show was only the fifth stop along the tour, which will continue throughout the country until the final stop, Lollapalooza. All those tour stops, many of which the band has hit many times, leave room for lots of change.
“At this point, we’re still experimenting. We just started the tour, so there’s still room for improvement. We just try to keep it loose,” Leto said.
The tour will further introduce the group’s fans to their newest album, “A Beautiful Lie.” The band is very proud of their record, which breaks past a lot of the standards set by their self-titled release in 2002.
“We worked very hard and we feel very fulfilled and satisfied with what we’ve accomplished,” Leto said.
The sound of the new album is very personal and fans can really relate to it, as proven by the overuse of the phrase “cut to the core” seen in online reviews. During the show, the fans were very electric, feeding off of the energy the band sent out.
“Last time, it was about power and control. Everyone thought it was different and strange,” he said. “This time, I set a mandate from the beginning. I wanted to see how little we could do. Basically, we wanted to write songs. It turned out more confessional and a very personal record. It was about taking your guts out and putting them on a table for everyone to look at.”
Just because Leto and the rest of the band released something deeply emotional did not mean that they were trying to preach anything to their listeners. Quite the contrary, the album was meant only to reach listeners in a meaningful way.
“They don’t have to understand anything. You hope people make a connection because ultimately music becomes a soundtrack to your life. Some music brings joy to people as they’re driving around, some people get strength from it. It’s a very private experience,” he said.
At this point, Leto knows a thing or two about music’s impact. Many of the band’s fans do not know that the two well-known albums were not Leto’s only musical works, but that he and his brother have been playing music on their own for a long time.
“My brother and I were signed in 1998, so we’ve made music before this,” he said. “Our first album was very unique.”
The change in intensity seen in the latest albums could partially be accredited to the official addition of the new band members, Wachter and Milicevic. Having previously only been with the band in a touring capacity, their input has taken the group to a whole new level.
“The dynamic was changed because now, more people contribute, challenge and share experiences,” Leto said.
On an individual note, Leto said he has been losing a lot of weight during the tour after filming his latest movie, “Chapter 27.” He never seemed to mind our company and actually took a break from answering emails on his phone to talk with us. He was amazed by the small crowd forming outside the venue.
“I don’t understand why people wait outside and don’t talk to each other,” he said. Then Leto noticed a guy in line standing against a wall talking to himself, which in some ways contradicted his observation.
It’s no surprise that people were excited about the “Forever Night, Never Day” tour. Along with 30 Seconds to Mars came newcomers Keating, Emanuel and gothic rock act Aiden, who recently had a two-page spread in “Alternative Press.” The difference between having these artists along for the tour and opening for other bands in the past is that headlining gives the band an opportunity to connect with fans in a deeper way.
“People were frustrated with us opening for so many bands. We learned a lot touring with bands like The Used, My Chemical Romance and Audioslave, but we only played for a half hour each night,” Leto said. “Now we’ll be able to present ourselves the way we want people to hear us, with more songs and a more dynamic show.”
Leto seems like he would be the average, crazy rock star type based on what the mass media has shown of him. However, meeting with him in person breaks that image down, leaving you with a very kind, mellow and easy to get along with person. Of course the tour bus was luxurious with tan leather seats and subtle lighting from the ceiling, but it was riddled with chips and Rock Star energy drinks, which made the bus feel more like a guy friend’s apartment, completely relaxed and casual. As it turns out, nothing about this band is stereotypical.
“People look beyond the stereotype of seeing us as an exception to the rule of duality,” he said. “In a world of non-believers, it’s nice that people believe in us.”