Hard work and dedication secret to success for 30 Seconds to Mars


And now, inspirational words from Tomo Milicevic. He is the guitarist in 30 Seconds to Mars. His sister Ivana is an actress who was in CBS's "Love Monkey."

How is it that both Milicevics became successes?

"We won't take no for an answer," Milicevic says. "You just bust your ass. That's the secret.

"Most people -- they don't want to admit the fact that you have to work harder."

Not just harder, but sacrificing free time, nights, weekends and TV on the couch.

"Without me sounding like a total, complete prick, most people don't want to do that," Milicevic says.

"Most people are happy with a mediocre life, and that's fine," he says. "I'm obsessed with production and getting (work) done."

Milicevic, 31, has been working at musicianship since he was 3, when he took up the violin in Sarajevo. He was on track to become a concert violinist, even as his family moved to Troy, Mich., five years later, and then to L.A. in his late teens.

"I was definitely born and bred to become one," he says, "but I found the guitar, and then it was like, 'Oh, no, this is the one.' "

His dad's guitar had been lying around the house for years, though he wasn't interested in it until he was enraptured by the power of metal music.

"Then I stared playing it, and I was like, 'Wait a minute, there's something to this six-string monster!' "

Milicevic still loves violin.

"We in the classical music world -- we feel like classical music is still the top-top-top-top level of everything," he says.

"Those composers are still the only true masters. The interpretation of that music is still the most complicated thing to achieve."

Milicevic says it's easier to write music, to express who you are, than to expertly interpret orchestral vibes.

"To properly interpret (orchestral) music, that's a lifelong journey of practice. And when you're in classical music, you know that, because that's what you're taught."

Milicevic was further drawn into guitar when he realized the "genius" of "emotions and compassions" in the "common songwriting in rock music."

But being a professional guitarist is not all that far off from being a famous violinist back in ye day of Bach, et al.

"They were the rock of their day," Milicevic says.

Niccolo Paganini was like "the Jimmy Page of his time," he says.

"It's the same exact thing, just the level of musicianship was a much higher standard back then."

Now, classically trained violinists more or less must decide if they want more obscurity and to spend their lives interpreting classics, or if they want to refine the voices while doing their own songwriting.

"You're either a writer or a player," Milicevic says.

Exactly.

He says the singer-writer of 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto, is a hardworking writer -- "a composer in the truest sense."

"From nothing, he will create art. But he doesn't know any classical music rules," he says.

"He will sit down for 20 hours, and he will get it done. He will extract the music that he hears, and he will learn how to play it. That's the difference between what I call an interpreter and a creator."

It's also the difference between a hard worker who earns success and someone who does not.

"A lot of people don't have the patience and the drive and the desire to do that, because it's so difficult," Milicevic says.

Yes, it's easier to be a consumer.

NEW YEAR'S IN BONDAGE

The glamorous stars of 30 Seconds to Mars want fans to dress in dominant-submissive costumes for their New Year's Eve show at the Palms, Milicevic says.

The theme for the show is the band's "Hurricane" music video.

"It's all about S&M and bondage gear. So we expect to see some interesting characters showing up," Milicevic says with hope.

"It's really just a ploy to get people to loosen up. When you put on a costume and participate in the fun, you definitely will open up a bit."

It's not like you have to convince partyers on the Strip to let loose. Milicevic says he's not even sure what other places around the world are as fun: "Thailand?"

"Good ol' Vegas," he says. "The last frontier of the Wild Wild West. ... I may or may not have participated in debauchery of the highest degree (in Vegas), but I'm not confirming or denying such allegations."

Doug Elfman's column appears Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail him at delfman@ reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

 

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