[artist id=”1231235″]30 Seconds to Mars[/artist] are not exactly what you’d call a subtle rock band. Their This Is War album (due December 8) features songs written in Berlin and recorded in Hawaii (with Kanye West ), guest vocals from fans recorded at so-called “summits” around the globe , and appearances by Tibetan monks and Iranian Twitterers , to name just a few.
So, it’s not surprising to learn that the video for War’s first single, “Kings and Queens,” has become a gigantic event too. In fact, 30STM were no longer even referring to it as a video. It’s a short film now.
“Our rule as a band is, when we do videos — which, I don’t often think of them as videos, more as short films — let’s make sure the experience is amazing,” frontman Jared Leto explained. “We’ve been to China in the past. We’ve been to the Arctic, so really, to do this video, in one way, was much simpler … but it’s also been more of a challenge. It’s still equally huge in its own way.”
No, “Kings and Queens” wasn’t shot in China (like their “From Yesterday” clip was) or on the polar ice caps (like “A Beautiful Lie”), but it’s no less of an epic undertaking. They have been filming over the course of several nights in and around some of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks, recruiting scores of extras and all manner of surrealist street performers. On Monday night, for example, 30STM had taken over the famed Santa Monica Pier and, along with an army of fixed-gear bikers, were filming a segment called “The Ride,” which is just a portion of the “Kings and Queens” short film, a spokesperson for the band explained later.
We know, we’re confused too. Not to mention a tad bit overwhelmed. After all, music videos aren’t usually shot on this kind of scope and scale anymore. But 30 Seconds to Mars aren’t in the business of making music videos these days.
“We’re doing all-night shoots. That was my big, dumb idea, to shoot at night,” Leto said. “But I think this city is a beautiful place at night, and we have these empty streets, and it’s kind of a haunting, forgotten landscape … very serene. It’s about reclaiming public spaces.
“It’s been an incredible adventure, but it’s also been really difficult, because there are so many people, and we’re shutting down streets of Los Angeles,” he continued. “Downtown, bridges, some tunnels, Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica Pier, we’ll be up on Mulholland [Drive], overlooking the city. But the idea, the night rides, I just had some friends that were doing Critical Mass and Crank Mob and People’s Ride in L.A. And it’s that sort of serendipitous thing, where people started talking to me about it in my life, and then my friend got a fixed gear, and then another friend of mine got a fixed gear. I thought the world was really interesting, and I thought it would be a really beautiful backdrop for the video.”