NEW YORK (AP) — Rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars wanted the announcement for their latest studio album to be out of this world. And that's where the album's first single debuted.
"Up in the Air" was sent to the International Space Station for an exclusive listening Monday. It will be released Tuesday on Earth.
The new album, "Love Lust Faith + Dreams," will be available May 21.
A compact disc containing the song was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on March 1. The band got to watch the rocket blast into space.
"It was amazing to feel it take off," frontman Jared Leto said in a recent interview. "The noise and the brightness was overwhelming, and you're still a mile away."
Leto said the challenge of sending a song into space paled in comparison to being sued for $30 million by EMI when the band was working on "This Is War," released in 2009, which sold over 500,000 copies. The band also launched an aggressive world tour to promote the CD.
"The last album was about closure. There was a battle and a war that we fought. This one is a new beginning," the 41-year-old singer-actor said.
The new single "has to do with getting to a point in your life where you're ready to let go of the past, embrace change and become more of who you really are," Leto said.
The lawsuit was eventually resolved, and the band has continued working with EMI. Leto said the out-of-this-world debut for the new album was fitting after the enormous weight of the lawsuit was lifted, although sending a CD into space was no easy task.
"Most worthy things are not easy to get done. I think a lot of great things have a tremendous amount of challenge, a tremendous amount of difficulty, and I think this was one of those things," he said.
Leto said he wrote and recorded more than 70 songs before determining the final 12 for the new album.
"My songs must feel like discarded lovers because I'm continuously abandoning time," he said. "But that feels better than being sued."
EMI sued the band in 2008 for breach of contract.
"That $30 million lawsuit in that battle was very real. It wasn't a headline. It was something we thought about every single moment of the day that was there, weighing on us. And not just the fact that we would lose and owe a corporation $30 million, but we would have our creative lives stamped out," Leto said.
Their documentary, "Artifact," chronicles the production of the band's third album.
"The film is highly critical of the record business, but I'm not anti-record label, at all. I'm anti-greed. I'm anti-corruption," Leto said. "I'm pro-artist. I believe that everybody can win. You don't have to steal from one another to do it, or to treat one another unfairly."
"Artifact" won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and was recently shown at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
While things are back to normal, Leto feels the "cuts are still fresh."
"I think they're healing. But they're definitely not healed yet. It takes some time. The good news is that there's an entirely new group that's running things. It's essentially a new record company," Leto said.
The band, which also includes Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicivic, will begin a world tour in June to support the new album.
Meanwhile, Leto will return to the big screen this year, starring opposite Matthew McConaughey in the AIDS drama, "Dallas Buyers Club."
"I hadn't made a film for five years, and this role came along to play a transsexual in a film about the birth of this horrible plague. I wasn't looking to make a film, or to take five years off, either," Leto said.
A conversation between astronaut Tom Marshburn from the International Space Station and Leto will be available on both the band's and NASA's websites.
John Carucci covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/jacarucci