Since MUSE in 2004 and Jason Mraz in 2008, the Entertainment Council has brought some major names in the music industry to play at Freeborn Hall. On Sunday at 7 p.m., 30 Seconds to Mars will join that list, along with Middle Class Rut as the opening act.
Reigning from Los Angeles, Jared Leto (vocals and guitar), Shannon Leto (drums and percussion) and Tomo Mili?evi? (lead guitar and keyboard) currently make up 30 Seconds to Mars. The band has become a major household name in the progressive and alternative rock world.
MUSE spoke with Mili?evi? by phone before the band’s “This is War” tour kicked off last week.
MUSE: Since you’ve played at many large venues such a Madison Square Garden, how does it feel to play at smaller venue like a college campus where you know the demographic is mainly college students?
Tomo Mili?evi?: For us, we’ve played oversees for over 100,000 people but they all still feel kind of small. We try to bring the show to the audience and shrink it for a different kind of experience. There’s an undeniable feeling. But they both have a benefit. M: Let’s talk music. You guys have been around as a band for nearly a decade now. How would you describe the musical and artistic evolution of 30 Seconds to Mars so far?
TM: For me, the music of 30 Seconds to Mars is the completely raw. So for us, it’s about showing ourselves without any inhibition and making our music that way. In that sense, the evolution of the band and the music is about the sound and the feeling. I think it’s really just how we change.
M: In many of your songs, especially on the new album (This is War), there are some unique moments like the appearance of a backing choir. What are the challenges of performing live and how do you re-create these effects and feelings on stage?
TM: Actually, it’s pretty easy. It works out perfectly actually [laughs]. We play the song and the crowd sings – it just works! We’re pretty deep into the album and cycle now, so the audience all knows the songs pretty well. Also, we created “The Summit” by recording over 1,000 people. So when we perform the song live, the audience sings those parts and it just sounds just like the album. In the studio, it’s a very calculated type of expression and its recording. It’s a different kind of focus and live, it’s a total gutter-hole and however you’re feeling, you get pretty lost in it. Everyone is just having a great time. And that’s what 30 Seconds to Mars concerts are all about. We try to give people an opportunity to let go and be free.
M: The video “Hurricane” recently got a lot of heat and controversy generated by MTV, like censorship – do you ever feel that being successful in the industry has ever held you back artistically or creatively?
TM: It’s interesting to choose what to censor or what not censor in this society. While provocative, it’s an art film and meant to make you ask questions and examine things from different angle. It’s not anything worse than watching an episode of “The Hills” or vomit entertainment. It involves perception. To one person it may be too explicit but on the other flip side, it can be someone that is equally offended by a particular television show. We make the art, and if you want to see the real thing, you can. But no, there are no pressures in that way. We do what we do in the time it takes for us to do it. It’s the process of making the music and being creative and we’re not interested in anyone’s opinion. There’s always a conflict, of course, with what people want versus what you want to do.
M: There are a lot of independent and local musician and bands here trying to make it into the music industry. Any word of advice for those folks out there?
TM: First off, I’d say, define what “making it” means to yourself. We don’t really think of ourselves at anything big at all. We’re always thinking about it as an internal uphill struggle. That’s what we like about [this industry]. Hard work pays off and if you really commit yourself then anything’s possible, really. Dreams are really just your idea of the life you want to create for yourself.
UYEN CAO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.