30 Seconds to Mars looks to fans for input

Rock band uses Twitter to host 'Digital Summit'

CLEVELAND -- Offering unprecedented access for fans to actually contribute material towards the next Thirty Seconds to Mars album, singer-guitarist-songwriter Jared Leto tells Billboard.com that, beginning today, the group is allowing sounds and vocals to be uploaded directly to the rock band via Twitter on the "The Digital Summit" (twitvid.com/mars).

"The first 'Summit' was in Los Angeles and we invited people from around the world to come and participate in the recording process of the new record," Leto said. "And it went so well that we extended the experiment to seven other countries. So for the people who couldn't make it to the physical locations for 'The Summit,' we decided to do it online. It's exciting to us because it's something that hasn't really been done quite like this before.

He adds, "At the end of the day it sounds phenomenal on the record and it's a really important part of this new album. It's basically using the collective whole as an instrument on the record and 'The Summit' will be featured on several songs throughout the album. It could be anything as simple as a conversation in the background, people whispering and people talking, people stomping and clapping to something or as evolved as singing a chorus with me in a song or by themselves."

The new album, tentatively titled "This is War" and due out in late 2009, is a follow-up to 2005's platinum "A Beautiful Lie." Among the new songs in the mix for Thirty Seconds to Mars -- Leto, brother Shannon Leto (drums) and Tomo Milieevi (guitar) -- are the anthemic "Kings and Queens" and an emotional "Hurricane." One version of the latter track, which Leto said he wrote while in Berlin during a magical time of his life, finds Kanye West contributing vocals.

"That's a really interesting song," Leto said. "Obviously there's Kanye singing on a version of that song and that was exciting, unique for us and kind of a surprising choice to a lot of people. 'Hurricane' is the kind of song that would play in your car if you're driving on Mulholland at 3 a.m."

Leto hints the band is already looking ahead to playing some shows this year and introducing fans to the outfit's new direction.

"There will be some surprises on the record," Leto said. "I think we've taken some risks and that's been exiting. It's a necessary thing to do when you're kind of exploring new avenues, but it's a very cinematic record, very atmospheric record. It's really 30 Seconds to Mars. I think we're continuing to become more of who we really are and we're really proud of the work we've done so far. This record has really been a phenomenal experience for us. We've worked with some really talented people, like Flood and Steve Lillywhite. It's been a dream."

He adds, "And it will be quite shocking I think for some people."