Tragic Details About 30 Seconds To Mars

30 Seconds to Mars — sometimes styled as Thirty Seconds to Mars — has been around for a long time. According to the Independent, the band was started in 1998, and the founders need no introduction. It is, of course, the brainchild of infamous A-list method actor Jared Leto and his brother — that's Shannon Leto on drums — and the sort of music they're playing is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing.

Those who love it? They really love it. And those who hate it — which, weirdly enough, includes Jared's fellow actor Elijah Wood — really hate it. The idea of actors branching out into music definitely isn't anything new, but what is different about Jared's passion project is the sheer zeal with which he chases it — and, of course, the Leto-esqueness that it's wrapped up in.

That extends to the band's name. According to what Jared told Ink19, the band name isn't as obviously sci-fi-inspired as it might seem. He claimed it came from a translation of a rare manuscript titled "Argus Apacase," and that it had struck a chord with him because it was a reference to how close we really are to the future, each and every day. As they've traveled along that road, always catching up to the future, Jared says there's still plenty in the tank, thanks to the 200-odd songs he wrote while in lockdown. Has it been an easy road? Not always.

Tomo Milicevic's family fled their home country ahead of war

While it might seem like 30 Seconds to Mars has California written all over them, that's not the case. Jared and Shannon Leto left their hometown of Bossier City, Louisiana, when they were young, telling FourTwoNine (via E!), "We escaped early on. It's very oppressive."

Lead guitarist Tomo Milicevic (left) told his own story of flight to Kaos2000, and it's terrifying stuff. Born in Sarajevo, he and his family had permanently left Croatia and moved to the U.S. by the time he was in third grade. It was a hard decision, but a straightforward one thanks to a few things: "My parents knew that war was imminent in that country, but they didn't know when so they came here," he shared. "Luckily. If I was still living in Croatia when the war happened, I would definitely be dead right now. Definitely, without question. I would be in the army by 16, fighting in the front lines by age 17."

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Croatia enacted mandatory military service in 1991. Croatia declared independence the same year, and fighting quickly escalated and necessitated the involvement of the United Nations by 1992 (via the BBC). Interestingly, 30 Seconds to Mars kicked off another connection to Croatia when, in 2019, they held an island retreat there that had infamously weird cult vibes (via KQED).

The band had to deal with a lawsuit from their record company

In 2008, Billboard reported that 30 Seconds to Mars was on the receiving end of a massive, $30 million lawsuit. It had been filed by their record company, Virgin, and what followed was a major difference in opinion. While Virgin claimed the band hadn't fulfilled their side of their contract and only made two of the five albums they'd signed on for, Jared Leto replied with a statement that said they absolutely didn't need to fulfill the contract. Why? Because, he said, under California law, such a contract could only last for seven years, and they had signed theirs nine years prior. He invoked the "De Havilland law," which was a precedent set by actress Olivia de Havilland when she wanted out of a contract with Warner Bros. (According to the LA Times, Leto reached out to De Havilland to interview for her for a documentary, and she responded with a handwritten letter.)

Leto didn't pull any punches, adding that the law had been put in place to protect artists, and he didn't like the way the deal had gone. While he condemned the contract for being clearly unfair — the band had sold millions of records, and had yet to make a profit — Virgin/EMI retaliated by pointing out that they'd also invested a ton of money when they'd paid for things like tours and music videos.

The lawsuit was settled, and Insider confirms that the details never went public.

Band members have been upfront about their debt

While it might seem like a band as successful as 30 Seconds to Mars would have a bank account that's as full as the arenas they play, Jared Leto says that's not the case. In fact, he told Forbes, "We had more success than we ever dreamed. We never expected to get rich, but we certainly didn't expect to be millions of dollars in debt."

How does that even happen? That's what he wanted to know, too — so 30 Seconds to Mars spearheaded "Artifact," an exposé of the music industry that explained how record deals were set up to funnel the majority of revenue to corporations while the artists got a relative pittance. The documentary is a scathing condemnation of the greed and corruption that seemed rampant in the music industry, all while artists were forced deeper and deeper in debt.

Leto, says The Hollywood Reporter, made it clear that he wasn't going after the institution of record companies, but the corruption that often came along with them — for instance, when it came time to pay out artists' laughable earnings from music streaming. Leto and the band ended up filming around 40,000 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, and shared what he wanted to see come out of the documentary: "I think artists don't have a seat at the table when it comes to being part of the conversation about the future of technology and creativity. There's a blueprint being made, and artists should be part of the design."

Former crew and band members were caught in a terrorist attack

The world watched the news unfold in a sort of shocked horror on November 13, 2015. That, says the BBC, is when a series of terrorist attacks were carried out across Paris, killing 130 people and injuring many more. Targets included a sold-out concert at the Bataclan concert hall. Performing that night were the Eagles of Death Metal, and even as events unfolded, Jared Leto took to social media to share his thoughts: Not only had they just performed at the Bataclan, but they'd gotten word that some of their former crew and touring musicians — who were putting on the show that night — were unaccounted for.

That included Matt McJunkins, a bassist who had toured with 30 Seconds to Mars (via the College of Contemporary Music). The day after the terrorist attacks, Reuters reported that McJunkins was the last of the band's musicians to be found alive in the post-attack chaos. Several associated with the band were killed, including merch manager Nick Alexander and a music exec named Thomas Ayad.

The American Music Awards took place just a few days after the attacks, and Entertainment Weekly says that Leto led the tributes to the victims — including Ayad, a longtime colleague. Leto summed up his thoughts by reading from a letter written by the husband of another victim: "You're asking for it, but responding with hatred and anger is falling victim to the same ignorance and hatred that has made you what you are."

The sudden death of Tomo Milicevic's brother

Details are scarce, and what details there are have come not from Tomo Milicevic, but his sister, actress Ivana Milicevic. When she sat down for a 2013 interview with Dame, it was at their family's restaurant, the Roxbury Café. The interview revealed that the three siblings — Tomo, Ivana, and Filip — were the first in the family to head to California, convincing their parents to trade their Michigan Dunkin' Donuts for the West Coast restaurant, where Filip was working.

In August 2018, she posted a tribute to Filip on Instagram. Two years had passed since he died suddenly of an aortic dissection; according to the Mayo Clinic, that refers to a tearing of the inner layer of the aorta. It's most common in older men, but Filip Milicevic died at just 33 years old. Ivana wrote in her post: "He loved @tomofromearth with all of his big heart since he was born. I miss him so much. ... I miss him. He is."

A few months before her post, Tomo announced (via Twitter) that he was leaving 30 Seconds to Mars. He didn't go into details at the time, but stressed that he still had nothing but love for the other members of the band. He wrote (in part): "I'll cherish the moments we had together and I'll have love in my heart every time I think of those days until I draw my final breath."

Jared Leto's injuries

It's not easy being famous, and Jared Leto found that out the hard way during 2007's Taste of Chaos tour. That would end up being a pretty aptly named show, as MTV reports that it was during their El Paso gig that things went dangerously sideways. Details were scarce, but in a nutshell, security personnel were unable to keep things under control when Leto ran out to be swarmed by a crowd of fans. He ended up with a broken nose and several other minor injuries that weren't bad enough to keep him from finishing the show, but did warrant a trip to the hospital at the end of it.

Scary, sure, but that's nothing compared to the near-death experience Leto had in 2020. He spoke about it with Men's Health two years after sharing the story on Instagram: An avid rock climber, Leto had fallen while climbing in Red Rock. He was 600 feet high and his climbing rope was fraying very, very quickly. While he didn't fall far and was able to continue his climb, he later said that it was a moment that allowed him to come to terms with the inevitable fact of life that lies before everyone. "It was like an acceptance, and a little bit of sadness. It wasn't even fear. It was like, 'Ah, not now.'"

A near-miss stage collapse that left fans dead

The UK has Glastonbury, and Belgium has Pukkelpop, a music festival that attracts tens of thousands of people each year. In 2011, 30 Seconds to Mars were slated to play, but NME reports that one of the early signs that something was wrong was a warning tweet from Jared Leto. He wrote, "CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM — NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE — STAY TUNED. SAFETY FIRST."

Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. The BBC reported that as the storm moved through, two of the outdoor festival stages collapsed when they were hit by uprooted trees (amid some reports that a tornado had been spotted in the vicinity). According to various media reports, in addition to the 40-plus people who had been injured, four were killed.

The Hollywood Reporter said that the death toll ultimately rose to six, and in addition to cancelling the band's appearance at Pukkelpop, Leto tweeted, "Our deepest thoughts and sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives today at the show in Belgium. We are absolutely devastated that this celebration ended in tragedy."

There have been accusations of sexual misconduct

In 2005, the New York Post ran a story with some serious allegations: The tabloid claimed that a source close to 30 Seconds to Mars had come forward to say that Jared Leto was well-known behind the scenes for inviting teenage girls backstage at shows. The source alleged: "He's a serial texter. He is constantly texting these 16- and 17-year-old girls. It's really kind of creepy."

Anonymous sources talking to the New York Post should be taken with a grain of salt, but Newsweek echoed the concerns amid more rumors and gossip in 2022. They referred not only to the accusations in the Post, but a tweet from Dylan Sprouse in which the actor asked about Leto's success rate with "every female model aged 18-25." Director James Gunn chimed in with a disturbing (and now-deleted) response: "He starts at 18 on the Internet?"

Similarly, Gawker also detailed a series of reports — including blog posts and tweets that have since been deleted — outright accusing Leto of assaults and coercion. The outlet stresses that no formal charges have been brought and nothing has gone to court, but also that the accusations are a serious matter.