Leto performing in Lucca, Italy in July 2013
March 9, 1970 |
Bossier City, Louisiana, U.S.
|Family||Jared Leto (brother)|
Shannon Leto (//; born March 9, 1970) is an American drummer and songwriter. He is the drummer for Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band he formed in 1998 in Los Angeles, California, with his younger brother Jared Leto. Their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002), was released to positive reviews but only to limited success. The band achieved worldwide fame with the release of their second album A Beautiful Lie (2005). Their following releases, This Is War (2009) and Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013), received further critical and commercial success. As of September 2014, the band has sold over 15 million albums worldwide.
Leto has worked on several side projects during his career, including a collaboration with Antoine Becks, a recording with the short-lived supergroup The Wondergirls, and performing on occasional dates with Street Drum Corps.
Shannon Leto was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, the son of Constance Leto (née Metrejon). His mother has Cajun ancestry. "Leto" is a stepfather's surname. His parents divorced when he was a child, and he and his younger brother Jared Leto lived with their mother and their maternal grandparents William Lee Metrejon and Ruby Russell. His father remarried and and committed suicide when Shannon was ten. Leto moved frequently with his family from his native Louisiana to different cities around the country. He has two younger half-brothers from his father's second marriage.
Constance joined the hippie movement and encouraged her sons to get involved in the arts. Leto became interested in percussions from the moment he and his brother started playing music together at early age. "I come from a pretty artistic family," he explained, "There were canvases and paint everywhere, instruments, and all sorts of stuff. It just kind of made sense. I started playing on pots and pans at a very early age, so I just kind of flowed into it. It was just a natural progression." He received his first drum kit when he was ten years old.
Leto recounts his adolescence as a troubled time, in which he used drugs and dropped out of school. Ultimately, he got away from his debauched lifestyle with the help of his brother, and the creative focus became his salvation.
Leto formed the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars in 1998 in Los Angeles, California with his younger brother Jared Leto. Their debut album had been in the works for a couple of years and was recorded in rural Wyoming during 2001 and early 2002. Their work led to a number of record labels being interested in signing Thirty Seconds to Mars, which eventually signed to Immortal Records. The band worked with producers Bob Ezrin and Brian Virtue on their debut album 30 Seconds to Mars, which was released on August 27, 2002 in the United States through Immortal and Virgin. It reached number 107 on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the US Top Heatseekers. Upon its release, 30 Seconds to Mars was met with mostly positive reviews; music critic Megan O'Toole felt that the band has "managed to carve out a unique niche for themselves in the rock realm." The album was a slow-burning success, and eventually sold two million copies worldwide as of March 2011.
It took two years to record their next release A Beautiful Lie, with the band traveling to four different continents to accommodate Jared Leto's acting career. A Beautiful Lie was released on August 30, 2005 in the United States. It has since been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has reached platinum and gold status in several countries, with a sales total of over four million. The band heavily toured in support of the album and played at several major festivals, including Roskilde, Pinkpop, Rock am Ring, and Download.
In August 2008, during the recording process of the band's third studio album, Thirty Seconds to Mars attempted to sign with a new label, prompting EMI (the parent label of Virgin), to file a $30 million breach of contract lawsuit. After nearly a year of legal battles, the band announced on April 28, 2009, that the suit had been settled following a defence based on the De Havilland Law. Thirty Seconds to Mars then signed a new contract with EMI and released their third album This Is War in December 2009 to critical acclaim.
This Is War reached the top ten of several national album charts and earned numerous music awards. The band began their Into the Wild Tour in February 2010 and was among the hardest-working touring artists of the year. In December 2011, they entered the Guinness World Records for most live shows during a single album cycle, with 300 shows.
Thirty Seconds to Mars released their fourth album, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams, in May 2013 through Universal. It received generally positive reviews and reached the top ten in more than fifteen countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The band promoted the album by embarking on their Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams Tour and the Carnivores Tour, co-headlining with Linkin Park. In April 2014, Thirty Seconds to Mars announced that they have parted from Virgin Records after tumultuous years with the label.
Leto is known for his energetic live performances and his ability to blend traditional and experimental drum techniques. During the production of Thirty Seconds to Mars first studio album, he played almost exclusively electronic drums and drew influence from artists such as Pink Floyd, The Cure, Led Zeppelin, and The Who, which he considers "mostly big conceptional bands; bands that had depth; bands that were dynamic." Bob Ezrin, producer of the album, felt that Leto is "one of the most inventive drummers I've worked with. He isn't satisfied with simply adding a beat; his drum parts are an integral part of the orchestration of the record. He's also a great live drummer who is lots of fun to watch, with a presence and energy level that are mesmerizing".
Leto switched to a mostly acoustic set-up on the band's next release A Beautiful Lie. His equipment consists of a hybrid kit that combines both acoustic and electric elements. His drum technician Joseph Ciccone, better known as Kentucky, stated that Leto's "sound is his technique. He's an animal behind that kit, so I love giving him tons of things to beat up." During the production of This Is War, Leto widened his style with an abundance of electronic sounds and synth textures. He wrote the instrumental track "L490" and played every instrument on it, including all guitars and a singing bowl. He experimented with different instruments and drew influences from a varied range of styles in Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.
In 1994, Leto found a minor role on the television series My So-Called Life, in which his brother starred. He later appeared in the films Prefontaine (1997), Sol Goode (2001), and Highway (2002). Leto recorded the songs "Drop That Baby" and "Let's Go All the Way" with the short-lived supergroup The Wondergirls in 1999, which members included Scott Weiland, Mark McGrath, and Ian Astbury, among others. Since 2007, Leto has performed on occasional dates with the American percussion band Street Drum Corps. In June 2008, he joined Habitat for Humanity to work with Thirty Seconds to Mars on a home being repaired and renovated through the Greater Los Angeles Area's "A Brush With Kindness" programme. Leto began producing the American electronic band CB7 after meeting musician Antoine Becks in 2009. CB7 later supported Thirty Seconds to Mars on the North American leg of their Into the Wild Tour in 2011. The same year, Leto created a side project with Becks and toured worldwide with him until the summer of 2012, when the duo split.
- Thirty Seconds to Mars studio albums
- 30 Seconds to Mars (2002)
- A Beautiful Lie (2005)
- This Is War (2009)
- Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013)
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