: a simple object (such as a tool or weapon) that was made by people in the past
: an accidental effect that causes incorrect results
It’s a crisp December morning in southern California and instead of working on my own manuscript (about my ten-year drug-induced stripping career in Waikiki twenty years ago), I’m tooling away on my laptop, finally getting around to sharing my take on ARTIFACT, the award-winning documentary about the making of the Thirty Seconds to Mars album This Is War and their 30 million dollar battle against EMI.
This article isn’t coming from some corporate office downtown, or anywhere near the type of building where you’d find “journalism”, “magazine” or “.com” etched on its conference room walls.
There are no suits to edit my brain, and the only payment I’ll receive from this piece is personal satisfaction that because I’m putting it out in the universe, my voice is being heard.
But here I sit. In my 700 square-foot apartment in Costa Mesa, worlds away from the rock and roll underbelly of Los Angeles, curled up with my coffee and determination. I’m eager to pour my thoughts on the page for no other reason than palpable inspiration, born on the heels of watching such an epic documentary, driving me to do so.
My introduction to Bartholomew Cubbins (30 Second’s front man, Jared Leto’s directorial alias) was delivered via ARTIFACT – his sweat and tears, pumped through his veins with an infectious passion, far beyond the comprehension of the corporate dudes behind their lawsuit.
Just minutes into watching Leto’s self-directed documentary, I pressed pause, as if to blow steam from the lip of each scene. I hit the back arrow to take a second taste, this time satiating on the flavor of exactly what was going down: artists talking about their passion, what music means to them, and how we, as human beings cannot live without it.
I connected with each industry insider interviewed (including one with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music), but it was musician Kenna’s piece that induced a familiar tickle in my nose, coupled with watery eyes, which were quickly wiped from the curve of my smile.
“A song has a story in it, there’s a heart behind it, there’s a frequency within it and you as a person delivered it, and that’s why people care. Music is the most powerful vehicle in the world. Period.”
I’m not a musician. And before ARTIFACT, I didn’t know the first thing about the industry’s convoluted relationship between artists and labels. Who I am, is simply a [music] fan. I’m a singular drop in a vast ocean of music lovers who marvel at the magic; how an artist delivers (within the space of only a certain amount of notes) continual creations of infinite melodies weaved throughout original lyrics, which solidifies our passion and moves us beyond compare. Again. And again. And again.
If you’re expecting a narcissistic, self-indulgent, “look at us, we’re rock stars, here’s how we roll” type of film, ARTIFACT ‘aint it.
This documentary views like a cinematic dream – or rather – dream come true – for the three men who make up 30 Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Miličević (lead guitar, bass, strings, keyboards, other instruments). Leto is the first to admit, their band’s record-breaking success wasn’t expected in their wildest dreams, and we believe him. Not because his breathtaking looks and disarming prose lure us in; but because we learn early on in the film that Leto and his band mates are simply asking for what is fair. We learn that like most things in life – even when our dreams are realized, there’s always shit hitting the proverbial fan. And in the case of EMI versus 30 Seconds to Mars, that’s a thirty million dollar clean up.
Adding to the meat of this 100-minute ride is a visual feast I didn’t see coming. Leto’s directorial eye is born for cinematic artistry. We’ve seen his signature talent several times in his self-directed music videos (my faves are Up in the Air and his most recent, City of Angels), and ARTIFACT is no exception.
This is a feel-good movie – after it pisses you off – but in the end, you’re left with a fire inside your belly that will inspire you to kick ass and draw your sword with whatever shit comes your way. And with This is War in your corner, you’ve got a killer soundtrack for the fight.