Wednesday, March 25, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Music That Shaped Me (Part 19)

Thirty Seconds to Mars - The Is War (2009)

Here's where there may be a lot of people who follow me on Facebook who suddenly think I've lost all cool and credibility. Not that I really had any. Yes, Thirty Seconds to Mars.

God, I loved Thirty Seconds to Mars. I first saw the video for Attack on MTV and thought "Isn't that guy the one from Fight Club?" and sure enough, Jared Leto was that singer. The track that followed, The Kill (Bury Me) was played all the time on MTV thanks to its cool video tribute to The Shining, and I remember asking Debs for that album, A Beautiful Lie, for Christmas that year. Had no idea what the rest of it was going to be like, but I really liked the singles.

The album was great, and after weeks of playing it a LOT, I tracked down their eponymous first album - which, strangely, I liked even more. A Beautiful Lie sounded like it had taken some influence from The Cure, while the first album felt a bit more U2. There is one track on that first album, The Mission, that has been a constant inspiration for my RPG, WILD.

"I opened up my head inside and find another person's mind..."
"Into the wild..."

Again, I listened to those albums a lot. and followed their fanbase, The Echelon, and kept track of Jared Leto's social media. There was a call out for vocal samples for their next album, and even photos for the cover (the tiger image above was the default cover, but 2000 fan photos were also used as covers - I don't think the ones Debs and I submitted were used).

This Is War is a crazily powerful album. Fuelled by the EMI lawsuit, it's filled with anger, operatic shouts, Queen-like stomping, and cinematic moments. My favourite track is easily Stranger in a Strange Land which still has me questioning why Jared Leto hasn't made that jump into film scores.

On November 25th, 2010, I drove us all the way down to Brighton to see them as part of the Into The Wild tour, and it was bloody amazing.

The next album is pretty awesome too, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. While promoting this album I spotted Jared Leto tweeting about being at Soho Sq in London if anyone else wanted to go, and I messaged Debs instantly. Crazy that we were, within an hour we were on a train and headed to London where a group of fans had gathered. The band arrived, and played an impromptu flash gig for about thirty minutes before they rushed off to a waiting car and before the cops came and dispersed the crowd.

Jared Leto in his full-on Jesus look at Soho Square in London. Photo by me (standing on a bench)
We went to see them again 21st November 2013 at the Nottingham Arena as part of the Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams Tour, which was cool (and certainly easier to get to than Brighton for us). A tour where they added circus-style acts to spice things up on stage. 

And that's about it. Their last album, America, felt like a massive disappointment after the cool and edgy music that came before it. With weird collaborations with other artists, strangely looped synths and autotuned vocals, it just didn't do it for me. There were a couple of really stand-out tracks, and Monolith once again made me question why Jared Leto isn't doing epic film scores. 

With the departure of Tomo Miličević during that tour, leaving just Jared and Shannon Leto as the band, I wonder where they will go next. Hopefully, back to their roots...

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