Jared Leto is keeping the eyeliner on for the foreseeable future.
The actor-musician-ladies’ man has released a statement addressed to friends and fans making absolutely clear that his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, has no intention of breaking up–despite Virgin Records America suing the group for $30 million for failing to deliver on a five-album contract.
“We are incredibly happy, healthy and very much together here, in Los Angeles, recording our new record,” the 36-year-old Leto says in a forum posting on 30 STM’s website. “Besides this ridiculously overblown lawsuit…we are having one of the most inspiring, wonderful and exciting times that we’ve experienced to date.”
The suit claims that in July Leto and drum-banging bro Shannon “repudiated” a 1999 deal inked with the now-defunct indie label Immortal Records (which Virgin bought in 2004), obligating them to make three more albums beyond their 2002 self-titled debut and 2005 follow-up, A Beautiful Lie.
“So, as you may have heard we are being sued by our former record company for the ridiculously oversized, totally unrealistic and pretty silly (but slightly clever) sum of $30,000,000. Insane? Yea that’s what we said too,” says Leto, the band’s singer, guitarist and chief songwriter.
He cites in their defense a California labor law that allows entertainers the right to terminate an agreement after seven years. The legislation was enacted to prevent the kind of indentured servitude that used to prevail in the movie and music biz.
“We had been signed to our record contract for 9 years,” Leto continues. “Basically under California law, where we live and signed our deal, one cannot be bound to a contract for more than 7 years. This is widely known by all the record companies and has been for years. In fact, so aware of it are they that they desperately try to make deals outside of California whenever possible. It is a law that protects people from lengthy, unfair, career-spanning contracts.”
After expressing his eternal gratitude toward Mars devotees, Leto alleges he was being sued “NOT for failing to deliver music or for ‘quitting’…[but] simply because roughly 45 days ago we exercised our legal right to terminate our old, out of date contract, which, according to the law is null and void.”
Even though the band never fulfilled the terms of its original pact, Leto claims the group, which also includes guitarist Tomo Milicevic, had “sold in excess of 2 million records” and never saw a penny. Leto says 30 Seconds to Mars’ next record would’ve simply gone to paying off a $1.4 million debt.
“Shouldn’t a record company be able to turn a profit from selling that many records? Or at the very least, break even? We think so.”
Leto blames the suit on the new owners of Virgin’s cash-strapped parent company, EMI, which he says has fired most of the employees who were instrumental in Mars’ success.
Leto, who launched his Hollywood career on ABC’s teen drama My So-Called Life, has averaged about one film a year. He appearead in 2004’s Alexander and 2005’s Lord of War and played John Lennon killer Mark David Chapman in last year’s Chapter 27.
A rep for Virgin/EMI was not immediately available for comment on Leto’s remarks.