Local meets favorite band
Before Friday, the greatest day in Dustin Helwig's life was the day his son was born.
But he can add another "greatest day" to his list after meeting members of his favorite band.
The 24-year-old Brazil resident spent part of Friday with the band 30 Seconds to Mars. He flew to California Friday morning to meet with the band after being chosen randomly through a contest called VyRT.
The contest offered fans of the band to purchase tickets for a live event, which was broadcast worldwide online.
Helwig purchased a ticket and entered a contest where fans were interviewed by others who work for the band, called "The Hive."
During the concert, Helwig said the band talked to fans, played music and talked about the groups' future.
"Once I bought the ticket, I was entered into the competition," Helwig said.
He added e-mails were randomly picked and those who were selected were then interviewed.
From there, he and another fan were chosen to meet the band in person.
Helwig flew to California Friday morning after finding out he had been selected Wednesday.
While meeting with the band, he had the chance to listen to an impromptu acoustic show -- with a string quartet -- and watch the band members interact with fans online. Helwig said the band also entertained its guests with clips of new songs it is preparing for a new album.
Members of 30 Seconds to Mars include Jared Leto (guitar, vocals), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Milicevic (guitar, keyboards). Jared Leto is also known for acting in several movies, including "Panic Room," and "Prefontaine," and for his stint on the MTV hit show, "My So-Called Life."
"They were all just kind of hanging out," Helwig said. "Jared was sitting there talking to the fans over the Internet. Right in the middle of doing that, he had me come over. I went to shake his hand and he was like, 'Nope, nope ... bring it in,' (for a hug).
"It was really cool. They were all really down to earth. It was like I had known them for 10 years. Friday was probably the most memorable afternoon of my life, next to my son being born. I will never forget it."
The band has released three studio albums, including its self-title debut in 2002, "A Beautiful Life," in 2005, and "This is War," in 2009.
The band has had three singles, "From Yesterday," "Kings and Queens," and "This is War," reach the No. 1 spot on the Alternative Chart.
Helwig has been a fan of the band since 2006.
"When 'This is War' came out, I was in Iraq," Helwig said. "I had downloaded it and listened to it non-stop the whole time. That's when I really got big into them."
Members of "The Hive" have also asked Helwig to write about his experience for the group's fan journal.
"They flew us out there," Helwig said. "It was probably a first for them. It was really awe inspiring to see how much they really, really appreciate the fans. They talked about it. Every time they do an interview, they thank the fans. It kind of brought it home and made it that much more real.
"It was very humbling. When you think of rock stars, you have this idea they are larger than life. That was not the case at all. They are just like you and I."