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30 Seconds To Mars Seeks Fan Connection

of the Oakland Press

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After taking four years between albums, actor Jared Leto and the rest of 30 Seconds to Mars weren’t quite sure what to expect when their third title, “This Is War,” rolled out in December.

The album debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard 200, selling 67,000 copies in its first week — a better showing than 2005’s “A Beautiful Lie,” which sold 21,000 copies when it was released but went on to sell more than 1.2 million. So that bodes well.

And even better, Leto says, has been the reaction of audiences since the group started touring to support the album.

“We were really prepared to have to kind of reset and start from the beginning again,” notes Leto, 38, “and we’ve just found a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement, a lot of people who haven’t seen us in a long time coming back out to the shows. It feels really great. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Leto and company, including his brother Shannon on drums, have certainly given fans plenty of portals to be involved in “This Is War.” The album features elements from The Summit, an in-person and online experiment that allowed them to contribute to the songs — chanting, singing, stomping and clapping — which the band integrated into its performances. A Faces of War campaign, meanwhile, took submitted photos from fans, including some famous friends, that resulted in 2,000 different covers for the album.

“What’s interesting is using new technologies to enhance the idea of communication and to further community,” explains Leto, who these days is sporting a pink hairdo. “The Summit was a good example of that; the audience is really a part of the show now, and when you come and see these songs live it’s a pretty phenomenal feeling when people are participating to the extent that they are.

“I’m always interested in where the online meets the offline, and we’re looking forward to operating in that space a lot more in the future.”

In the near future, however, fans can look forward to “Artifact,” a film about the making of “This Is War” that Leto hopes to have out this year.

“We’re still editing and shooting,” says Leto, whose next feature film, the science fiction story “Mr. Nobody,” is due to open this year as well. “We have 3,000 hours of footage, and it’s been pretty interesting. We’ve been following everything from the birth of a song, ‘Kings and Queens’ ... It’s the whole story, right there.”

30 Seconds to Mars, Mutemath and Neon Trees perform at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $26.75. Call 313-961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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