Ahead of a national Australian tour, Thirty Seconds To Mars guitarist Tomo Milicevic opens up about $30 million law suits, sending singles into space and why rock & roll is a full-time job.
Say what you like about Thirty Seconds To Mars, they're no strangers to hard work. Last year alone harboured a critically acclaimed album, globe-trotting live shows, an award-winning documentary and countless meet and greets. Just a few months into 2014 and the band are already embarking on one of their most extensive world tours yet.
But then Jared Leto, Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic have never been ones to rest on their laurels (or rest at all, it seems). Starting out as a collaboration between Hollywood actor (and newly-minted Oscar winner) Jared and his brother Shannon, Thirty Seconds To Mars' self-titled debut was released in 2002.
Milicevic joined the band as lead guitarist a year later and the band went on to achieve platinum sales with second album 'A Beautiful Life', as well as a clutch of MTV Awards. Eleven years and two albums later, Thirty Seconds To Mars are showing no sign of slowing down. “It's a non-stop process, whether it's touring or making a new album, or just making videos or creating content; we all do a lot of different things,” Milicevic says.
“For us, the album is one thing and the studio and the process of creation should be limitless. If you start thinking about the many limitations of a live show, you'll probably end up with a less than stellar result. It's a full-time job, there is no break. We may not be on tour, we may not be currently making an album but we're always doing something.”
Bringing the 'Love, Lust, Faith And Dreams Tour' to Australia next month, Milicevic is looking forward to introducing the band's latest material. “It's one of our favourite places to come to, maybe you guys don't realise because you live there but it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, it's totally unique. The fact that we get to play a show in front of people is even better.”
The Australian leg of the tour comes after Thirty Seconds To Mars were forced to reschedule dates originally planned for August last year. As a band that enjoy a strong connection with their fans, it was a tough decision to make and Tomo expresses his gratitude for “everyone's patience” during the postponement. “Audiences are different but you start to notice similarities between people. Even with different languages and completely different cultures, you start to see a lot of similarities, which is interesting. We're all there united by this common thing in the song, it doesn't matter if we speak English or they speak Arabic, we're all there doing the same thing.”
Milicevic is familiar with crossing cultural boundaries through music. Born to Bosnian Croat parents in Sarajevo, he emigrated to the United States as a child and began writing his own music at 17. “[Being able to unite people with music] is probably one of the most incredible things, it's absolutely an honour and mindblowing every time.”
The Oz tour follows the band's fourth studio album, 'Love, Lust, Faith And Dreams', released in May last year. A concept album with hints of electronica, it peaked at #4 in the ARIA charts, thanks in part to the unique promotion technique which saw its first single (appropriately named 'Up In The Air') blasted into space. “We just wanted to do something different and have fun with the kick-off of our new album. Jared had this idea that maybe there was some kind of launch going on and we could do an event with NASA. It turned out that they did have a launch; sometimes you just gotta ask, I guess! They seemed to be quite happy about it and they definitely had fun with it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
The recording process behind 'Love, Lust, Faith And Dreams' was a far cry from Thirty Seconds To Mars' 2008 album, 'This Is War'. Made in the middle of a legal battle with Virgin, who were attempting to sue the band for breach of contract, the album was borne out of a tumultuous period in the band's history. “The environment surrounding the process for 'Love, Lust, Faith And Dreams' was completely different; filled with joy and positivity and a limitless search for creativity. That's how it should be and I think you can hear it. In some ways, this album is even darker than 'This Is War' as far as the songwriting content goes but the process was definitely much lighter and I really love this album.”
Thirty Seconds To Mars DatesTue Mar 25 - Challenge Stadium (Perth)
Fri Mar 28 - Hisense Arena (Melbourne)
Sat Mar 29 - Qantas Credit Union Arena (Sydney)
Sun Mar 30 - Riverstage (Brisbane)