30 Seconds To Mars
Soundwave 2011 is almost upon us, and talking to a band such as 30 Seconds To Mars, it's time to reflect upon the sheer diversity present in this monumental lineup. From the illustrious classic metal of Iron Maiden, to the evil but symphonic black metal of Dimmu Borgir; from the all out thrash assault of Slayer, to the gritty stoner rock of Monster Magnet and High On Fire; the quirky progressiveness of Coheed & Cambria and Primus, to the punk 'n' roll of Millencolin, and much, much more. This year's festival lineup is painted with very broad brush strokes - and they don't get much broader than 30 Seconds To Mars.
Add the energetic but atmospheric alternative rock of 30 Seconds To Mars, and that Soundwave palette is extended even further. For the uninitiated, this band features none other than renowned actor Jared Leto, who has featured in such cinematic classics as Requiem For A Dream, American Psycho and Fight Club.
Leto remains one of the few actors who have made a successful and credible transition from the silver screen to the lighted stage of the rock world, or vice-versa. Never the type of band to be overshadowed by the reputation of a single member, 30 Seconds To Mars have actually been around for 13 years - since 1998 - and in that time have released three full-length, very well-received albums and received numerous awards for their work.
It's the band's very gracious guitarist Tomo Milicevic who expresses his boundless enthusiasm for Australia, playing Soundwave and the lineup with its inherent contrast of styles with a happy bounce in his voice.
"I guess I've been there (to Australia) only twice!" Tomo recalls, "so this will be only my third trip to Australia; I'm really excited. It's cool to be able to play Soundwave Festival, because we've always heard so much about it, and now we get to be a part of it, so that's great.
"Isn't Iron Maiden playing? Oh my God!" he laughs. "It's like, I don't even need to play, I'll just go watch the show!" he chuckles.
"It's fun to play shows with a lot of different bands," Tomo states, looking at the idea of playing as part of a festival tour, "and it's definitely better for the audience as well, so everyone can get a bit of something that they like. And that's what a festival should be; it should be a place for people to discover new music, as well as seeing something that they love."
Since 30 Seconds To Mars have indeed visited our shores before and have already experienced what Aussie rock audiences are like, Tomo expects more of the same highly excitable and enthusiastic response that we're apparently world famous for. "I expect the same as I've seen and experienced in the past," he muses, "which is fucking mayhem! Total anarchy, total mindnumbing, blistering insanity.
"That's what we like about you Aussies," he adds, "you like to go crazy at rock shows. We appreciate that!"
Those Australian audiences no doubt appreciate the kind words too, and only hope they can live up to such lofty expectations.
Given the more atmospheric nature of the majority of 30 Seconds To Mars' music, what can Aussie audiences expect from the band's stage show, especially given the musical chaos that will be going on around them at the festival? "When we play, we truly approach it like we're about to get into a fight," Tomo chuckles.
"We walk out on stage like it's about to be a big rumble, like we're about to go into battle or something," he adds. "We just want to go out there and give people the greatest time of their lives. We want to give people an excuse to just go nuts, and not really care about what's going on in their personal lives for that moment in time. For that day, just let it all go. That's what we want people to experience at our shows."
After the relative 'normality' of the Soundwave shows in Australia, 30 Seconds To Mars are heading into comparatively unknown territory. From the final festival date in Perth, the band fly directly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for two shows, before winding up in South America for gigs in Brazil and Chile. Exploring new areas and spreading the word into untapped areas of the planet has actually been a goal for the band for a while now, as Tomo explains: "I'm really not sure (how the Abu Dhabi shows came about)" he says, "I know Jared's been trying for a while to get to some different places.
"For us, touring is, while it's part of our business 'cos that's what we do for a living, it's really also about the experience. We want to travel and we want to see different places, and if there's people out there who want to have a concert experience with 30 Seconds To Mars we'll come there.
"We want to experience different cultures," he continues, "and just see what's out there. We have this amazing opportunity to travel the world, and contribute to local culture in a way that's unique, and we feel really lucky about that. So want to capitalize, and jump on any opportunities that are presented to us, so I guess that's probably how it came about.
"Any place that wants to have us, if it sounds like a cool journey, we'll do it!"
Australian audiences don't have long to wait now to get a piece of the 30 Seconds To Mars action. Just remember to bring the mayhem.
30 SECONDS TO MARS play SOUNDWAVE at the Melbourne Showgrounds this Friday March 4 along with Iron Maiden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slayer, Primus, Slash, Rob Zombie, Stone Sour, Social Distortion, The Bronx and heaps more. You can catch Jared Leto's cheekbones at about 4.30pm in the main arena. Their latest album This Is War is out now through EMI.