A party was held in Kiev on October 1st, one that appealed to a variety of people; from 30 Seconds To Mars fans, to active clubbers, to glamorous cocktail-drinking house lovers.
Antoine Becks, a member of California-based Electro band CB7 was in charge of the DJ decks. And in charge of the rhythm and drive of the party was none other than 30 Seconds To Mars drummer Shannon Leto.
A few hours prior to the start of the even we met up with Antoine and Shannon to chat about their work, pornstar filled orgies, tears, interior design, ubiquitous tabloids, karaoke bars, dance music and about how to stay fit without the need of a gym.
Shannon: What’s that written on your t-shirt? “Keep rocking this life”? That’s a great line, great attitude, keep it up! By the way, familiar face! Don’t I know you from somewhere? Where could we’ve met?
I’ve interviewed you when you came to Kiev with 30 Seconds To Mars in December.
Shannon: That’s right! I remember you, how are you?
Good, and you?
Shannon: I’m great. I’m in Ukraine again, in Kiev. Glad to be here.
You’re wearing dark sunglasses, so just so we’re equal, I’m gonna put mine on as well. There, now it’s all fair and square.
Shannon: Go ahead buddy. Now we’re a trio.
Alright, it’s seems like we’re ready, let’s begin. To kick things off, describe each other in 3 words.
Antoine: We’re doing this again? Somebody had already asked us that today.
Agreed, it is a little predictable. Let’s carry on –
Shannon: No, hang on a second! I’m gonna describe him in 3 words! “Antoine”. “Loves”. “Borsch”.
Antoine: Yeah, that’s me! Definitely!
Shannon: Antoine Loves Borsch. But apart from that he is also talented. He’s a dreamer. And he is… the Energizer Bunny! Do you guys know of those? (note: Shannon begins to clap his hands)
Of course we do!
Shannon: So that’s Antoine. ‘Cause he’s always working, working, working…
Antoine, how about a punch in return?
Antoine: Easy! I would say “an artist”, I’d say “a dreamer” but that word has been used already, so I’d say “inspiration” and… and “modesty”. He’s making big things happen… but he is….
Antoine: Yes, that’s right!
Shannon, you’re a fan of Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer, right?
Shannon: Yes, he’s a great man.
Mason has a hobby – he collects race cars. He buys them, he drives them, he takes part in professional races.
Shannon: Really? I didn’t know that, that’s great!
The reason I say that is because I wonder – do you guys also have some secret hobbies? Maybe you’re a closet gardener? Or maybe you’re a natural at rock climbing? Or do you bake pies by night? Anything besides music?
Shannon: Yes, I’m an interior designer and an architect. Yeah… I’m an architect.
And have you been commissioned for any projects?
Shannon: Yeah, my house. I am building my lair as we speak. No, not building. I am designing it. Restructuring my ceiling, doing the planning, moving some furniture around. That’s what’s keeping me busy lately.
What about your old hobby – phothography?
Shannon: I’ve not picked up my camera in a long time. This project with Antoine takes up a lot of my time.
What about you, Antoine? Any hidden talents?
Antoine: No, no hidden talents – I play many musical instruments. If we’re talking about non-music related talents… you see, why I play music? I’m not such a good chef… so I don’t really need any non-music related hobbies. I get great satisfaction from what I do. I do enjoy exploring and learning stuff about studio equipment though – it’s a never-ending quest. You always learn something new. For example, Shannon and I could be recording new things right now, while we’re on the road, using nothing but our laptops and a few other things. It’s like a pocket version of a big, fully functional recording studio.
If you two hadn’t met each other years ago, and had still decided to have a similar project – a DJ and a drummer – who would you have picked if not each oter?
Shannon: We wouldn’t.
Antoine: A project like this would not exist.
Shannon: It’s important that we met each other when we did.
Alright. Let’s talk about CB7. When can we finally expect an album?
Shannon: (note: as a producer, Shannon took it upon him to reply instead of Antoine) He’s working really hard on the new material as well as the demo. I think it will happen soon. But all of it takes time. We don’t even have a record label yet. We need to find the right family.
Family? So, it won’t be a major label? Have you thought about going with EMI, the record label that released 30 Seconds To Mars?
Shannon: We’re weighing up our options.
Shannon, going back to interior design – according to tabloids you’ve bought a villa on a beach in Cali.
Shannon: Wait.. what? Oh, yes! Antoine, did you know that? I’ve made my way into the tabloids…
Antoine: no… no, I did not know that.
How do you feel about the yellow pages? And about the media in general, intruding your private life like that?
Shannon: You know, at first when I read those things, I thought it was kinda weird.
Antoine: What tabloid was it?
Shannon: The LA Times. It went something like this “Shannon Leto of 30 Seconds To Mars buys a Villa for $900,000”
Antoine: No way!
Shannon: I thought it was a little strange at first. You know, when I think about all these critics and the yellow pages… I don’t really care! Critics will always be critics. But on the other hand, it wasn’t really a negative article. They didn’t diss me…
Antoine: People buy houses every day.
Shannon: These tabloids need something to write about. It’s all fun – I think I’m just like anyone else, you know, I don’t think I’m that special. By the way, I only read that article just last night, here in Kiev. Weird. What do you say?
Shannon: That’s what I mean. Who cares!
Journalist should really concentrate more on the music and the work of the artists and less on their private lifes.
Shannon: That’s right – they should right about the music, about other things that go on in the world, and not about how Shannon Leto bought a house.
OK, moving on. Right now you have a party-like tour, you know, dance floors, clubs, etc. Do you consider yourselves to be party monsters?
Shannon: Party monsters? (note: takes off his sunglasses and looks deep into the interviewer’s eyes) look into these eyes. Do you see a monster in there? Honestly?
You can show that look to our photographer.
Shannon: ooooooooh no! (note: puts the sunglasses back on) The monster’s asleep! You know, yes, we make music that you are meant to dance to. Dance, jump, shout, sweat, forget about your problems, lose yourself, find yourself… That’s what our shows are for. It’s for people to have a great time when they want to. And we love what we do. We ourselves are fans of this kind of music, we are fans of music making. I’m Antoine’s fan, which is why I am working with him.
Antoine: And I’m a big fan of Shannon’s. That’s why we’re here.
What was the craziest, wildest party you’ve ever been to?
Shannon: I remember attending a bachelor’s party once, in Cali. They had porn stars there and all. I won’t go into all details, but I’ll tell you that much – I’ve experienced many things there, some of which I hadn’t experienced before.
Antoine: you have got to tell me about it!
Shannon: I’ll tell you later.. just use your imagination and imagine how it all could have gotten out of control. Everyone just lost their minds. I think it was the first party I attended in LA. It was the craziest thing ever and… hang on, stop, wait. I never said I was taking part in ANY of that. I was just an observer… yeah
Antoine: I’ve been a part of the club scene for many many years, I’ve travelled to a lot of different countries, doing what I’m doing, and I have seen a lot of crazy parties. Columbia, for example. I’m glad that with the current line-up we, too, can organize the craziest, wildest nights. Just days ago, in St Petersburg we had a great night! Fantastic night!
Shannon: We’ve actually written a song about it – “Life for the Wild”. It’s our first dance song. We’ll play a part of it tonight. So, as you can see, we’re not just DJing, stitching someone else’s songs together, we also make our own. Do you like dance music?
Why not! If it’s a good quality piece, and not some monotone house or trance type of thing. What kind of dance music do you prefer?
Shannon: You first!
Are we talking electro?
Shannon: Dance music as a whole. What was the first thing that came to your mind?
Ok then – The Knife. Not really dance music, but it was the first thing that came to my mind, and I’d dance to that right now.
Shannon: Ok, that’s cool.
Antoine: I love her voice.
Shannon: What a great sound. There’s a lot of interesting underground bands and producers out there. What’s great about dance music is that you don’t have to confide yourself to just one genre, you can do whatever you like, just make sure people can dance to it.
Going back to the subject of monsters. Shannon, you’re often referd to as “Shannimal” (note: Shannon + Animal). Which animal qualities do you think you posses? What’s wild about you?
Shannon: Me? Animal? Pffff…
Antoine: I think they call him Shannimal for the expressive style of drumming. If you ask me, he really does bang that drum with animal passion and instincts.
Shannon, you’re in great physical form, very fit. What takes up more of your time – music and rehearsals or the time spent at the gym?
Shannon: I don’t go to gyms. I just play my drums, that’s all. Rehearsals take up all of my spare time.
Antoine, anything you wanna add to that?
Antoine: I don’t go to gyms either. But I do love hiking, I often will go to the hills near LA.
OK, next. You both are quite masculine…
Shannon: Thanx. Are you flirting with us?
Shannon: Hey everyone, he’s flirting with us!
No, anyway, what was I saying… with your rock’n’roll masculinity, is there a song that is so touching, it could literally make you cry?
Shannon: WOW. Well, there are many great songs. You know, each song, every note, melody that comes from the heart can reduce you to tears. Something like that.
Antoine: Exactly! With me, nothing in life can reduce me to tears but music. I know its strange to talk about it, but there are songs that I have written, and they are so very personal, that when I am listening to them, I relive the moment, very emotional. And to share such honest, raw feelings – it’s a very delicate process
That’s all great, but would you maybe name a few?
Shannon: There’s not much else left to say, really. It could be any song that has a meaning, passion, honesty. Anything that reflects us emotionally.
Let’s say, hypothetically, let’s say you’re drunk.. or sober, and you walk into a karaoke bar. What song would you chose to sing?
Shannon: I don’t go to karaoke bars.
Antoine: I’ve recently popped into one in Berlin. And I won a medal!
Shannon: What song did you sing?
Antoine: “Beat It” by MJ. It was so cool, they had a live band and everything. They had a band that could play any song!! A real band behind you on the stage! It was so awesome, they gave me a medal for it.
Shannon: wow, so you’re winning medals now. It’s like you’re a celebrity now. I think it’s time the tabloids write about you buying houses.
Shannon, what song would you pick?
Shannon: hmm… what song….
I’ve heard you sing “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt.
Shannon: haha, yeah, there’s a fun youtube video of that I think I would choose something fun. Judy Garland for example. What was it? Over the rainbow.
Shannon and Antoine: (together) “So-o-omewhe-e-re over the rainbow”.
Antoine: We should do a cover.
Shannon: Today! Today during the performance, we’ll stop the music and go -
Shannon and Antoine: (together, again) “So-o-omewhe-e-re over the rainbow” (both laugh)
In your musical collection, do you have an album that you are a little ashamed about?
Shannon: Hmm.. overall I’m quite proud of my collection. Granted there are things that aren’t all that great…
Antoine: I wouldn’t say there are things I am ashamed of. There are some pop songs there. Sometimes they’re very sweet lovely pop songs. I like Madonna’s “Into The Groove” (note: starts singing)
Shannon: It’s not a sweet pop song, it’s a great, groovy song.
Can you remember the advices given to you by other musicians, which you actually followed?
Shannon: wow, there’s been a lot of great advices… I think, the most important one was the unspoken one. It’s the work that they’ve done, the paths that they’ve taken, the things they’ve taken great risks for, pushing the envelope, wanting to do things differently. Their inspiration, that’s the unspoken advice. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Antoine: I’ve received a lot of great artistic advice from Shannon, actually. He has taught me a lot. But the best advice probably is – when you have a lot going on, when you have to go a million and one things, concentrate on what’s most important, mentally isolate yourself from everything else. One thing at a time, that’s a great advice.
Before leaving, the boys drew their self portraits for us.
Interview by: Sergey Keyn
Photo by: Alina Kuchma