The musician and actor opened up to ET about his band's forthcoming album, 'It's the End of the World But It's a Beautiful Day.'
For Jared Leto, so much of what makes music great is being able to connect with people on an emotional level. And with Thirty Seconds to Mars' forthcoming sixth album, It's the End of the World But It's a Beautiful Day, he's hoping to accomplish exactly that.
Leto recently sat down with ET's Rachel Smith, and opened up about the new album, which he said was influenced by both the darkness and isolation of the pandemic lockdowns, as well as the hope and joy of the world returning to some semblance of normal again.
"This album was born into the early days of COVID, after my brother [bandmate Shannon Leto] and I wrote, you know, a dozen songs about isolation and those darker days," Leto recalled. "And as we started to come out of that period, the album reflected that too. That optimism, that hope, that celebration.
"But I think that time was probably the first period in our lives where we ever were in the same place for that length of time," he added.
For the band, the hardest part wasn't creating new material, but cutting down and selecting what songs would make the final track list of the album, and which would be cut.
"My brother and I had about a couple hundred songs and the majority of the songs kind of fall to the side, and that part is pretty easy," Leto said of the selection process. "It gets a little harder when you start to narrow it down to 20 or 30."
"But some songs, you know, they share similar territory, they might share a similar melody or lyrically there's not enough variety, so you really look to the songs you're most excited about," he shared. "And of course, you start asking the people around you."
However, the rockstar said sometimes you have to be careful allowing other people's opinions on songs be your only guiding factor.
"I remember there's one song that made the album and the people closest to me, no one was that excited about it," Leto recalled. "It's a song called "Never Not Love You," and I really believed in the song. So, there are a few people who I really trust, and are very talented, and they just weren't that excited about it. So I thought, 'You know what? I'm gonna ignore them and I'm gonna keep pushing forward.' And when I finished the song, it's really the only song I've ever had in my life where I played it for a few people and they just started weeping."
"Which is a weird thing to be happy about, but it really touched them," he added. "It compelled some real emotion. And it's a beautiful thing to connect with people."
Leto explained that, when it comes to making music and being influenced and moved by music, it's part of the very fabric of his soul and was instrumental in shaping him as a person.
"Music, for me, it's changed my life. I've turned to music in times of desperation. Music is the soundtrack of our lives and for me -- especially when I was younger -- it really was something for me to hold onto. It was a friend, it was a companion for me, and it really taught me a lot about life," Leto shared. "Now, I've gone on this incredible journey for decades with my brother, in Thirty Seconds to Mars, and touring all over the world and putting out a sixth album, and the older that we get, we're just struck with gratitude to be able to do this. It's really great."
"We have a beautiful thing that we share and it's been an amazing journey," he added of working and creating alongside his brother.
As for the forthcoming album -- which comes out Sept. 15 -- there's a significant sonic difference from much of their past work, and Leto explained why the band has changed things up so significantly.
"Sometimes, you've got to destroy your past in order to move forward, and I feel like that's important for an artist to experiment, to evolve -- or else things get stagnant and you die," Leto shared. "It's a new beginning for us."
"The album is called It's the End of the World But It's a Beautiful Day and, for me, it's an optimistic title," he added. "It says a lot about, you know, having hope for the future. But we feel really hopeful, we feel excited, we feel invigorated, and this is a new a new era for us."