Interview with 30 Seconds To Mars’ Shannon Leto

Twelve years and three albums later, 30 Seconds To Mars has solidified themselves in the music industry as musically dynamic and a band that fans all over the world connect with on many levels.  StarShine’s editor-in-chief, Sandy Lo had the chance to speak with founding member Shannon Leto a couple of weeks ago to discuss the band’s message and their current Into The Wild Tour.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Hi Shannon. How are you today?
Shannon Leto (30 Seconds To Mars): Good. How are you Sandy?
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): I’m doing very well. Thanks for speaking with me.
Shannon Leto: Of course.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): How’s everything going with the tour?
Shannon Leto: It’s going really good. It’s our third show with this tour. We haven’t played in America in three years. It’s exciting to be sharing this album with our country.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): How is it different playing for American fans than the rest of the world?
Shannon Leto: It feels like home, ya know? It just feels comfortable. First of all, we all speak the same language, but the energy is really amazing. There’s nothing like playing for your home country. It’s hard to explain. The energy is just different–more rowdier, just more excitement.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): I’m sure that gives you more adrenaline.
Shannon Leto: Absolutely, I feed off that–the energy of the crowd.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Is there a song that still remains a fan favorite when you guys perform?
Shannon Leto:
“The Kill”. People love “The Kill”. “A Beautiful Lie”, “From Yesterday”. And this new album people are responding a lot to “This Is War”, our new single that’s out now. “Kings and Queens”. “The Kill” is always the crowd favorite, it will always be, you know?

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Yeah. I put it on every mix CD that I make. [laughs] Shannon Leto: [laughs] There you go.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): So you guys just finished filming the video for “This Is War”.
Shannon Leto: Yeah, we did. We just finished filming that a few days ago.
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): I saw some of the pictures on MTV and obviously there’s a war theme. Could you tell us a little bit more about the video?
Shannon Leto: Nope! [laughs] It’ll come out soon and we’re trying to keep things under wraps, but it does definitely reflect a war time. It’s something we’ve never done before from the location to the content. I really can’t wait to see the finished product. The making of it was actually really, really cool. I got a chance to become a soldier. I BECAME a soldier. [laughs]

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Well, see now you’ve accomplished almost everything in life. [laughs] Shannon Leto: You know what I mean? Except for maybe going to the moon or mars and hanging out, but yeah.
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): That is something you should do as a band.
Shannon Leto: Maybe that’ll be our next video.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Now you guys took a long time over the past couple of years with this album because of the lawsuit and everything. What would you say the key to surviving in this music business is?
Shannon Leto:
The music business has changed so much. You really have to look at the bigger picture and see where everything is falling into place, and then flow with that. There are other ways to go about making music. I think it’s not there yet, but it’s well on its way. I mean the internet is a huge, huge marketing tool. I think utilizing that helps. It’s a big question; it’s a really big question. Stick to what you believe in. Fight for what you believe in. Have people on your same team that are believing in what you believe in and just kind of go from there. But it’s a big question and it’s going to take some time for anything…I mean the record industry is collapsing. The old way of thinking is dying. People are going to have to start thinking about the new way of doing things, so…big question.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): How would you define Thirty Seconds To Mars’ message to the world?
Shannon Leto: Good questions!
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Thank you!
Shannon Leto: Really good.  I think it’s more than just guys playing their instruments on stage. It’s more than just going in and recording your instruments and putting a CD out. It’s more about a shared experience. It’s more about everybody participating if they want to participate. It’s like a big art project. It’s about community. It’s about expressing yourself any way you see fit–through the arts, through visually. It’s like one big art project. That’s kind of like the way it’s been. We have this communal aspect about the band. We share the experience with our audience, with our fans and our families as much as we can. With this last album, This Is War, we had people flying to Los Angeles–thousands of people–they sang, they chanted, they stomped, they clapped, they beat on things, and we put that on the album. So you can hear that throughout the album. It went really well. Then we did it digitally as well. So we have eight or nine different countries singing and chanting on the album. And then we had 2,000 different album covers as well–with different [fan] faces–the faces of mars, we call it. It’s more about sharing an experience. I think these days it’s important to do that, especially when you have the internet and your BlackBerrys and your iPhones and you’re always glued to that. I think there’s some experiences that aren’t shared as much as they used to be–even though they’re being shared via internet and all that. Just the physical aspect is not there as much. We’re not doing that purposely, but I think that’s how it’s going naturally. We bring people on stage as well to help sing “Kings and Queens”.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): That’s great. I love when artists do that. I’m actually a big Thirty Seconds To Mars fan, and I’m a novelist. The last book I published, “Dream Catchers“–the whole time I was writing it, I listened to your music.
Shannon Leto: Oh!
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): And there’s a band in the book and I kind of modeled them after Thirty Seconds To Mars.
Shannon Leto: Very cool, thanks! That’s VERY cool.
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): No problem. I even put you guys in the acknowledgments for inspiring me.
Shannon Leto: Aw, thank you!
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Thank you guys.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Has there been any really rewarding moments on this tour, so far? I know the American leg just started, but overall has there been one specific show where something amazing happened?
Shannon Leto: Well, I don’t think there’s one specific show. I think the whole thing has been rewarding. I think being able to make another album and finally having it come out. And booking the tour dates and being able to share the experience, I think that’s the overall reward. Something that comes from your soul and something that comes from, who knows where? Some celestrial place maybe…and to record that and to be able to express that to people and share that, it’s pretty amazing. It’s something that really can’t be put into words.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): What’s in Thirty Seconds To Mars’ future?
Shannon Leto: Who knows? We’re really concentrating on the tour right now. We’re really concentrating on reintroducing ourselves to America. We haven’t toured here in three years, so it’s really exciting to be able to be back home and tour again. We’re just really focusing on that and if we feel like we want to continue expressing ourselves through vehicles of music, we’ll continue to do so. If not, we’ll do something else. I think it will always be a form of expression through the arts in some way or not. Expressing yourself this way does something that conversation lacks. It does something that fulfills me personally. I’m compelled to do it so I think I will always be doing something like this.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): For my last question, if you could dedicate any song in the world to your fans–it doesn’t have to be your own, but can it be–which song would you pick and why?
Shannon Leto: I would dedicate [sings] we are the world, we are the–no. [laughs] You know what? We would make a song with the people. We would collaborate with the people so we could all have ownership in it. It would be special. I think that’s what we would do.

Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): Sounds good. Well, thank you so much Shannon for the interview. I look forward to seeing you guys in concert on the 24th in Philly.
Shannon Leto: Yeah! Come and say hi.
Sandy Lo (StarShine Magazine): I will, definitely.

Review of the Into The Wild tour coming soon!  For tour dates, ticket info + more on 30 Seconds To Mars, go to:

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  • Sandy Lo

    Sandy Lo’s personal story is inspiring. She started, StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Recently, she has been seeing some tremendous momentum in book sales on Kindle. She has been included on the “50 Writers You Should Be Reading” list by The Authors Show, and “Dream Catchers”, “Breaking The Moon” and “Indigo Waters” reached the Top 100 Best Selling Coming of Age novels in Amazon’s Kindle Store. What makes this even more unique, is that Sandy relocated from NY to Nashville in order to write “The Watch Dog,” which is set in a fictional town outside of Music City. “The Watch Dog” reached the Top 10 Ghost Stories on Amazon. Aside from her writing projects, Sandy is also a freelance digital strategist.