411 Exclusive Interview – Matt Wachter Of 30 Seconds To Mars
30 Seconds To Mars have started making their mark this year in rock with a grueling tour schedule behind their new album, A Beautiful Lie. Ironic, considering they have been at it for three years now.
30 Seconds released their self-titled debut in 2002 and registered a blip on the radar on the strength of the signle “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)”. The band started to catch on based solely on their music despite the fact that frontman Jared Leto is also an accomplished actor.
Perhaps it is because of that that the band has had a harder time of it. Names like Russel Crowe and Keanu Reeves stick out in the music world like sore thumbs. Leto, however, makes a better go of it because this is actually his first love.
With A Beautiful Lie hitting stores today, we had a chance to talk to bassist Matt Wachter about the record and the touring schedule. It is apparent that 30 Seconds is all about the music, both on record and over the phone.
Michael Melchor: So, whereabouts are you right now?
Matt Wachter: We are in San Antonito, TX, out on tour with The Used. We’ve done about 4 shows with them.
MM: How is it being out with them?
MW: Oh, it’s excellent. We’re good friends with everyone there, so it’s like being in summer camp all over again. [Laughs] We’re big fans of those guys and it’s really good being out with them.
MM: Excellent. So, going back a bit, how did the band wind up getting together?
MW: Well, Jared and Shannon [Leto, drums] are brothers, of course, so they’ve been doing this their whole lives whether they wanted to or not. They didn’t choose it, it chose them.
MM: Always been into music?
MW: Yeah. I came on board about four years ago and Tomo [Milicivitch, Guitar] has been in about three. It came about basically through word of mouth, “friend-of-a-friend”…
MM: This person knows that person, “Hey, I know this guy…”
MW: Exactly. And it’s been happily ever after. It was very organic; it wasn’t one of those put-together things you read so much about these days where you get a Polaroid and a fact sheet about someone and have to read through it to see if they can get the job done. I feel there’s a lot of that right now, especially in Los Angeles.
MM: Right – more of a “help wanted” scenario instead of getting with people you actually know and want to play with.
MW: Yeah! Back in the day when I started out, I always played in bands with my friends. Once in a while you’d go to an audition but it was never contrived. I always tried to avoid that.
MM: So were you on the first album with 30 Seconds, then?
MW: I actually didn’t record on it; I’d joined the band just as they were finishing mixing that album.
MM: Ahh, okay.
MW: Yeah, I toured with the band after it, and then Tomo and I were a part of the recording process for the new one.
MM: So, knowing the first record inside and out—
MW: Yeah, I do. Mainly, it was Jared and Shannon, though.
MM: Gotcha. Did you have a hand in writing any of the new one?
MW: Well, basically Jared’s the main songwriter. He brings the ideas to the table and we add color to them and we fluff them out together.
MM: Okay, cool. I guess the reason I’m mainly asking is because I’ve noticed a marked change between the two records. I’ve about worn out the first one because I’ve loved it since it came out. I heard this one was on the way and figured I have to get a hold of somebody about interviewing somebody.
MW: [Laughs] Thank you. I’m glad it prompted you to reach out to us.
MM: You’re welcome. Getting back, I noticed a change in so far as…I got an advanced copy of A Beautiful Lie and I like it a lot, but I notice it’s a little more aggressive than the first one. It’s not a bad change at all, just one I wasn’t quite ready for.
MW: I think you just summed it up pretty well. One, you’re not quite ready for it. We’re never going to make the same record twice. A lot of good bands don’t do that and I don’t like listening to bands that do. It’s like eating pasta every single day – no matter how good it is, you’re going to get sick of it. It’s just very boring.
30 Seconds To Mars is, and will always be about, change. That’s what this record was about. It took roughly three years to write and record over four different continents and five countries, all kinds of different cities in-between. During that time, we all went through a lot of changes, both personally and as musicians. I think a lot of that was reflected on the record; the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad times.
MM: So more of a reflection of what everyone’s experienced.
MW: Right, exactly. The record is mainly 10 chapters of our lives in the past two or three years.
MM: I guess that’s what I was mainly getting at was how it came about. It’s a jarring change, but one that played out well.
MW: Right. And not to take away from bands that do that; if that’s your sound and you’re happy with it and your fans are happy with it, then that’s fine. But it’s just not for us. We’re interested in growing as artists and, once you stop, why do it?
MM: Another thing I noticed about this one is that it sounded more personal. That would probably be explained by what you were saying about it being 10 chapters out of everyone’s lives.
MW: I think Jared went out on a limb and let his guard down some more on this one. It’s definitely more emotionally transparent. He saw it as, “the first record’s wrapped around the head, whereas this one’s more wrapped around the heart.” And that’s a scary thing, to put yourself out there for everyone to interpret. That’s a big step.
MM: And it came out rather well, I think. Any plans after being out on the road with The Used? Anything we can look forward to?
MW: Oh, there is so much going on right now, my head is spinning. [Laughs] We just finished the video for “Attack”, so that should be out soon. [Ed. Note: The video is set to world premiere today on Fuse on the network’s “Daily Download” show.] The record comes out on August 30, and there’s a lot going on leading up to that. We’ll be on Conan O’Brien, we’ll be playing Fuse…honestly, the best way I keep informed on what’s going on is being on the band’s website’s mailing list. [Laughs]
MM: [Laughs] I’m signed up as well!
MW: Excellent! [Laughs] Yeah, it’s a really, really crazy time in our lives right now and something we’re really proud of. Definitely a lot of emotions leading to it.