Since 2007 actor and musician Jared Leto has been the frontman of rock group 30 Seconds to Mars, who have just released their fourth album, ’Love Lust Faith + Dreams’. While Jared admits that working on the album has been a transformative process for the band, he prefers to be inspired by contemporary art and travel than music, even admitting to recording the first part of this album in a portable studio in India. We catch up with him to talk paying homage to art and design, working with Dita Von Teese,the use of Damien Hirst paintings and why Phillip Toledano is fantastic.
‘LOVE, LUST, FAITH + DREAMS’ IS YOUR FOURTH ALBUM, BUT YOU’VE SAID BEFORE THAT YOU’RE NEVER CERTAIN ABOUT YOUR FUTURE, AND ARE OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE BAND COULD END AT ANY TIME. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR WORK TODAY?
‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ was released just days ago, we are more excited about this new chapter within our lives than we have been about many before it.
WHAT MOMENTS STOOD OUT FOR YOU DURING THE MAKING OF THE ALBUM?
I think discovery, if you push yourself enough you can breakthrough new ground and I believe we’ve done that with ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’. It’s a transformative album for us, I think people are going to be quite surprised, it’s a great departure.
HOW HAVE YOUR IDEAS AND INFLUENCES EVOLVED?
Ithink we’ve becomemore aware of who we are, with a greater sense of self. We have played hundreds of shows in support of our last album,we entered the Guinness World Records for the most shows in fact and I think we applied the lessons to this new album. It’s a very decisive, very succinct and a very focused album. ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ is expansive.
ASIDE FROM ON STAGE WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST FREE CREATIVELY?
Probably when I’m in tune with my instincts, when I lose myself in work and when I’m really listening, that’s when I’d say I’m at my most creatively free.
YOUR LATEST VIDEO ‘UP IN THE AIR’ CLEARLY BORROWS FROM THE LIKES OF DAMIEN HIRST AND PHILLIP TOLEDANO, HOW AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THESE INFLUENCES?
I think the video is an homage to art and design. I talked a lot about aesthetics when I was prepping this, it took five months in total to make this eight minute little film. There are influences from Avedon to Damien Hirst but there’s also a young artist named Mark Snow who built sculptures and then set them on fire as representations of ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’. I liked the idea of Dita Von Teese and the US female gymnastics team, but not filming them as artists and without a sense of pageantry which is how they are usually displayed specifically the gymnasts. I wanted to shoot them in a different light, that was one of my favourite phases of the shoot. In terms of Phillip Toledano, he’s fantastic in the way he celebrates, or creates and alters less traditional beauties.We used this idea in the ‘Up In The Air’ video with the girl who is dancing in the bikini who’s obviously not a traditional model but who’s life and flesh. So I think there is some common ground there in terms of taking the less traditional approach to celebrating unique individuals in front of the camera.
PHILLIP TOLEDANO HAS SAID THAT ‘ARTISTS ARE LIKE DICTATORS’ – WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT STATEMENT?
It’s as serious as you take it, but it’s like the old cliché, ‘don’t take yourself so seriously, but you can take the work as seriously as you want’. Phillip Toledano deals with the surreal and in some way the hallucinogenic and I certainly don’t deal with narrative or traditional narrative and the realisation of my music quite often comes in its final form with the short films we make to accompany the music itself. I’m an art school dropout, I dropped out in my third year. I aimed to be an artist, so I think the short films we make are a natural extension of that person, that side of myself, but yes, art is at times a very selfish thing, a personal vision and so I do agree with Mr Toledano’s idea of the dictatorial aspect.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT MUSIC SCENE?
I don’t really listen to music very much to tell you the truth, I find more inspiration in visual arts than I do in music, but if I was going to listen to new music out there it will be a soundtrack. Giorgio Moroder and Tangerine are some of my favourites. I tend to be inspired by visual things and experiences that I have when I’m travelling the world. My first writing session was in India, I went to India for three weeks and wrote and recorded and I built a portable recording studio so we could do site specific impromptu recording sessions. That was the beginning for ‘Lust Love Faith + Dreams’.