It’s 30 Seconds to Mars. And about half that to file a lawsuit.
Jared Leto and his bandmate brother, Shannon, were sued Friday by Virgin Records America for failing to come through on a five-album deal the eyelinered duo and the now-defunct indie label, Immortal Records, inked with the plaintiff nine years ago.
While Leto used a couple of those years to appear in movies like Girl, Interrupted and American Psycho, his band eventually got the ball rolling with its 2002 self-titled debut.
The alt-rockers followed that up with 2005’s A Beautiful Lie.
But since their sophomore effort, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, 30 Seconds to Mars has remained three albums short of the promised land.
Virgin and parent company Capitol Music Group claim that the Letos opted out of their 1999 contract in July by citing a section of the California Labor Code which states that a contract cannot be enforced against an employee beyond seven years “from the commencement of service under it.”
In order to invoke the loophole, employees involved in “the production of phonorecords” must also give written notice that it won’t be providing its services in the future.
And 30 Seconds to Mars may very well have laid it all out in writing, but the labor code also states that, in such a case, an employer is entitled to recover damages for breach of contract, which is exactly what Virgin and Capitol are looking to do, to the tune of more than $30 million.
A rep for the band, however, says that it’s 30 Seconds to Mars that is getting the short end of the stick–the trio, which also includes Tomo Milicevic, has sold more than 2 million albums and has not been paid accordingly.
Meanwhile, though the guys haven’t been putting out any new music lately, they sure are stretching their A Beautiful Lie success as far as it will go.
They issued a deluxe edition of the album in 2006 and rereleased it again last year with a different set of bonus material, hoping to capitalize on the good will picked up on a European club tour. A short-film music video for the album’s title track premiered in January on the band’s MySpace site as well.