In 1998, brothers Jared and Shannon Leto formed their post-grunge, screamo, Hard Rock band. Thirty Seconds to Mars (or 30STM as the name is often abbreviated online) was named after a section title in a former Harvard professor's thesis discussing the expedient growth of technology and how it relates to human life. From these somewhat esoteric origins, the band has developed a rich mythology complete with glyphs and a cult like following of fans known as the Echelon.
Originally an actor known for his performances in films such as Requiem for a Dream, Fight Club and American Psycho, Jared Leto was raised in a musical household with older brother Shannon. The boys were encouraged from an early age to pursue various forms of art, from music to photography. After a brief stint studying painting in Philadelphia, Jared transferred to New York to pursue film-making. In 1992, Jared moved to Los Angeles and Shannon followed. After several years pursuing acting and jamming in between, the brothers and Matt Wachter formed the band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
Initial musical influences included The Cure, Metallica, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin with a lineup that included Wachter on bass, Jared on guitar and vocals and Shannon on drums. Their self-titled debut album released in 2002 met with limited success, however, it did establish the actor-lead band as a fresh voice in the post-grunge genre, exploring their depths both musically and lyrically. The band toured extensively with fellow alternative rock acts such as Chevelle and Our Lady Peace. It was during the 2003 tour season that Milicevic joined the band as a permanent member. The singles "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)" and "Edge of the Earth" made it into the top ten of the UK rock chart but the album only ever peaked at 107 on the Billboard 200 in the States. Produced by Bob Ezrin, the album received generally positive reviews from critics. This moderate success inspired the band to continue making music despite Jared's hectic film schedule.
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