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INTERVIEW: Tomo Milosevic from 30 Seconds To Mars

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There’s something about Thirty Seconds to Mars that inspires a devotion more usually associated with British boybands. When the band, fronted by Oscar-Winning actor Jared Leto and his older brother Shannon, cancelled an earlier show planned for Dubai in April, fans in the region seemed to take it as a personal insult. It was the kind of news that, in their native US, might have required a crisis helpline.

Mercifully, the legions of loyalists haven’t had to wait long for their appointment to be rescheduled. The trio are bringing their bombastic, stadium-ready emo-rock to the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday night as part of Dubai Music Week. It is their first show since they reinvented the live experience with “Camp Mars”, a summer camp in Malibu, California, with hiking, yoga, campfire singalong for just 500 people – a markedly different experience from the full-throated show we’re expecting this weekend. ShortList grabbed guitarist Tomo Milosevic to see what’s in store.

First off, we have to ask you about Camp Mars in California. How was that?
Man, I’m so glad you asked about that. I have to say that it as the most unforgettable, memorable and coolest things we have ever done as a band. I really mean that. We felt like we were pioneers out there, that we were part of something incredibly positive… it was so much fun. We were in this beautiful remote part of California and it was very intimate and very special, really. We record and capture everything as a band, so there will be videos of the event coming out real soon.

From one desert to another, it’s your first time playing here in Dubai, isn’t it? The Closer to the Edge Tour brought you Abu Dhabi and Oman in 2011.
Yeah, and let me tell you, the energy in the room when we played in Abu Dhabi and later in Oman was incredibly special. I don’t know, there was something that just connected with the crowd and we all felt it. We all look back on those shows as incredibly memorable. It’s the first time playing in Dubai, though. We came here after the Abu Dhabi show to celebrate Shannon’s birthday so it’s a place we know and like.

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Well, red sand, space-age skyline… someone from Mars might feel right at home.
That’s true! We can’t wait to come out again. I heard the weather will still be warm so we’re all packing light.

Do different parts of the world have their own favourite songs, or do they all respond to the same big track??
Good question… I’d say there are certain songs that everybody seems to go for, like “Closer to the Edge”. “Up in the Air” is another song that makes people just go nuts. Doesn’t matter whether we do it with amps, or an acoustic version, the place will explode. So, it’s a fair assumption we’ll be playing those in Dubai!

You seem to connect to fans in a way that might well be unique. Does that say we’re lacking genuine rock stars right now? Do you feel you’re ploughing a unique furrow?
Well, when Jared and Shannon started the band, they had a very clear intention: they wanted to do something unique, something different, something that no one else was doing. Jared as a songwriter – and as a person come to that! – will always try to veer away from what the herd is doing. He’s always pushing himself as a songwriter and we’re always pushing as a band, we’re always looking to reinvent, renew and refresh… that’s our mantra.

I mean, everyone can stay in their zone and keep producing the same songs, stick to a formula. That’s not music, that’s maths! Anyone can do that. We set ourselves a pretty high bar and we’re always looking to do new things. So, yeah, I think we’ve succeeded in creating something unique.

You had a very public split from your record label, the documentary of which is being shown in Dubai this week, too. Is there new material on the way?
There’ll definitely be a new record. I think Jared has done all the writing for a new album, so all we have to do now is to get into a recording studio and create it.

Interesting. Does that mean we might be hearing some new songs in Dubai?
Ha! Well, file that under ‘You never know’…! Jared might just start unleashing something on stage. I guess you’ll all find out!

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