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Space Case

"I think we all strive for some sort of identity or knowing of self," says 30 Seconds to Mars drummer Shannon Leto from his car in Los Angeles. "The way to go about it can be a little rough around the edges, but I don't think there's an arrival date or a plateau . . . not as long as I'm on this planet."

Alongside guitarist Tomo Milicevic, bassist Matt Wachter, and Leto's little brother Jared (yes, the actor) on guitar and lead vocals, Shannon Leto is a hardworking hard rocker who still finds time to ponder life.

Certainly, having a famous actor as front man doesn't hurt, but behind its black eyeliner and goth-meets-alternative image, 30STM continues to prove itself musically. The band's sophomore album, A Beautiful Lie (2005), just hit the platinum mark. Acclaimed for their dark passion and visceral intensity, singles like "The Kill" and "From Yesterday" have girls swooning and normally blasé critics headbanging along with adolescent gusto.

The band's epic aesthetic is evident in the video for "From Yesterday," a 13-minute film shot in the People's Republic of China and featuring hundreds of warriors and acrobats. "My brother had this amazing idea to shoot the video in China," recalls the elder Leto. "It was just phenomenal — the people, the culture, the history, everything just felt like one big art piece. It was inspiring in a lot of ways."

The band was also recently inspired to make environmentally friendly choices, such as using a biodiesel bus, during its recent MTV $2 Bill "Welcome to the Universe" Tour. When asked if he hopes fans will follow the group's lead, Leto displays an optimistic, live-and-let-live attitude. "We do what we do — if they feel compelled to jump on the same train, then great."

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Simona Rabinovitch

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