According to Leto, 30 Seconds to Mars have been hard at work on the yet-to-be-titled follow-up to 2005's A Beautiful Lie, for which they've enlisted the talents of British post-punk producer Flood (Nine Inch Nails, Sigur Rós). Even though there's a $30 million rain cloud looming overhead, Leto said the band's in "good spirits" and that they're "working together as a band better than we ever have before," and are feeling more inspired than they have in years.
"Our only concrete goal is to make something amazing, and something that we're proud of, and something that's fulfilling and challenges us," Leto told MTV News recently. "We really try to just collectively participate in a creative experiment that hopefully ends up being something we're really proud of. But when you're in it, you can't help but be 1,000 percent focused on what's going on in that time. That's why I like making music so much, because it really commands your entire being. It takes all of you. And when you're making it with other people as well, it's a really unique experience. It's really making an actual 'record' of this time in our lives, and it's saying something in creative terms about who and what we are — our thoughts, our fears, our hopes, our dreams."
Leto claims that this new LP is inspired by a number of life experiences he's been through, and that the band has been able to evolve from A Beautiful Lie, making this next record his favorite effort to date.
"We've had this phenomenal experience travelling the world, and as you come into contact with different cultures, different people, you can't help but be influenced by that in some sort of way," he said. "I think this record is about faith, about spiritual matters, and that just happens to be what we're thinking about and talking about in our lives right now. I said when the last album came out that I wanted to destroy the first record, which I think we did. We took a dramatic turn from the first to the second, and I think this new record follows that path. It's exciting to us, and we're really passionate about it."
Of course, the $30 million lawsuit — filed by the band's former label, Virgin Records, back in August — is still pending, and Leto freely spoke about the suit that contends the guys failed to produce three of the five records they were obligated to deliver under their 1999 contract, which the band entered into with the now-defunct Immortal Records.
In 2004, Virgin took over that contract, which the band later "repudiated," claiming that they were "excused from such performance from and after July 4, 2008, pursuant to California Labor Code Sec. 2855 (a)." That law mandates that a contract "may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it."
"It's our first lawsuit," he joked. "When you have a $30 million lawsuit against you, it's part of your life. Some days you feel invincible, and other days you can be obsessed with it. Some days you can get a little pissed. We've always had a phenomenal relationship with our record company. We have been sued for terminating our record contract, and, really, for exercising our legal right. We've been signed for over nine years now, and under California law, you can't be bound to a contract for more than seven years."
Leto said the band will challenge the filing, because in his opinion, the suit doesn't have legs.
"It's all about fairness," he said. "It's about companies treating artists fairly. It's an age-old debate and, unfortunately, it will probably continue into the distant future. Record companies — and in particular, EMI — want their bands to work for free. They want their bands to work for slave wages. We would do this for free, because we love doing this — but there's a principle there. We feel really confident that this is the right thing to do — to confront this and not shy away, not to be scared, to challenge the status quo. The great news is the music is better than ever. We're making the best album we've ever done."