PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Living the Martian Dream

Nicole Schuman

Tomo Milicevic of 30 Seconds to Mars tells you how to go from nameless fan to unpretty rock star in a few easy steps.

Tomo Milicevic, guitarist for 30 Seconds to Mars is living every fan's dream. As the band ends its national tour, opening for Audioslave and Seether, and promoting its newest album, A Beautiful Lie, Milicevic remembers that only three years ago he watched the band from the floor. Now he's with them up on the stage.

"I was a huge fan of 30 Seconds to Mars, and I had the opportunity to meet Shannon [Leto], seven years ago," Milicevic said in a recent phone interview. "We weren't fast friends, but remained acquainted. When they were in Detroit [Milicevic's hometown] he got me tickets, and I brought people and we hung out."

Milicevic was in a regional band of the same management when he received a call saying one of the guitarists had quit, and they needed him to come to Los Angeles the next day for a tryout with 30 Seconds to Mars. Milicevic couldn't believe his luck. He quit his band, borrowed some money from his parents for a plane ticket and moved to LA the next day. He already knew how to play all the songs since he was such a fan and just practiced incessantly until the audition. Five days after the audition Milicevic was on a national stage, playing The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborne with the band.

Hearing Milicevic's story it is easy to see why and how 30 Seconds to Mars has evolved from its past recordings. The band is tight and organized on its newest sound, with a theme and mission in mind to be heard on the album. The original band consisted of a project including just the Leto brothers, Shannon and Jared. A Beautiful Lie was written over three years, with the inclusion of Milicevic and bassist Matt Wachter. The group went through its growing pains, Milicevic said, but that was to be expected when expanding the outfit.

"Jared writes most of the songs, the lyrics and harmonic concepts, then he comes to us and we collaborate," Milicevic said. "In the beginning it was difficult. You are changing a formula that was there for many, many years. "Then everyone realized how we could work together and got used to how everyone works. We all had the same goals in mind, and all wanted the same things."

Milicevic said the band agrees that it has evolved together and that every product becomes different and better. While he said A Beautiful Lie is not a traditional concept album, it is an album that has to be enjoyed as a whole, with all of their struggles and triumphs compiled together.

"You have to listen to it as a whole, it's conceptual as a theme; an album about struggle and change, rebirth, making choices in life, and how to make those choices," he said. "We decided as a band on the songs for the album, from a group of 40, on what best told our story."

As their last tour of the year, 30 Seconds to Mars puts a special value on its live performance. The band has been on tour for over eight months and plans to embark on a headlining tour in February 2006. That will be the band's first headlining tour, playing at smaller clubs to 500 to 1,000 people. It looks to older bands such as Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue for its stage antics; these bands created great songs, but they put on more than just a musical show, Milicevic said.

"We are different from other groups because we put on a high energy show," Milicevic said. "We're not just sitting up there staring at our shoes. Seeing bands like that is completely disappointing, they can't even play their instruments. Kids want more than that. There is no edge or danger in rock music right now. That's why rock is dying, and we are trying to bring it back. Rock used to be edgy, and now hip-hop has the danger element. Kids want to be rebellious and take risks, not watch shoegazing prettyboys with no attitude."

For 30 Seconds to Mars it is all about attitude. Milicevic said he is completely comfortable handling the roll of a rock star.

"The term 'rock star' is more of an attitude and a personality," he said. "Fuck yeah, I feel like I am [a rock star]. I'm not a dick or anything, but I know what I want, and what I am capable of and in that sense, being in this band never changed that way of thought for me. I've always had rock star mentality; I knew this was what I was going to do one way or another. Now I'm doing what I always wanted to do."

It's obvious Milicevic and the band love what they do, and that he has come a long way from the violinist he became at three years old. 30 Seconds to Mars just wants to keep it original and set themselves apart from the rest of the music community.

"Musically we are always trying to do something original, different," he said. "We don't use our influences the way other bands might. We try to make the music sound like it stands on its own feet, instead of using other bands as a template. We'll never make the same records twice, as this one is worlds apart from the first album. A lot of bands are scared to change the formula, but you change and aren't always the same person. We make music that we love and that we want to hear, if others like it, it's ok, that's the beauty of music. If you don't like it you don't have to listen to it, if you do, that's ok, too."

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.