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Tomo Milicevic / Matt Wachter - guitarist / bassist, 30 Seconds To Mars
The Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA - April 19, 2006

Bands come and go faster each year, and rarely do many bands get to develop their craft beyond the initial offering. This makes for many stale and tired sounds that get pushed upon the unsuspecting listening audience. Rarely though, does a band get through that offers more than the general trend. 30 Seconds To Mars is one of those rare bands. For the member’s ages - ranging from mid-20s to 30s - it is a treat to the musically-minded listener to realize that this group knows its beginnings and pays honest homage to them. While so many musicians today can only quote favorite inspirations that go back perhaps 5 to 10 years, the members of 30STM have been inspired by the genuine masters going back decades. From Yes and Pink Floyd to John McLaughlin to Sade to Les Paul, the influences flow forth.

We got a chance to speak with Tomo Milicevic and Matt Wachter - guitarist and bassist for 30STM - recently at a show in Santa Cruz, CA. The real joy of meeting them wasn’t just the chance to pick their brains on the standard fare, but in the fact that these guys know their stuff. This is not a group of “If he can do it, I can do it” mentality. These are guys who have a background and genuine interest in creating quality. And aside from that, their own personal lives are pretty intriguing as well. We covered not only the regular musical subjects, but got into a lengthy conversation covering travel, social issues, stupid interview questions, and even cooking tips [Tomo is a certified chef who has plied his craft as both Pastry Chef and Head Chef in several restaurants]. Actually, this interview offers far more than anyone expected. Matt fessed up to a secret, while Tomo covered some healthy cooking tips, as well as musing over meeting some musical heroes. Real people with real lives, albeit a bit more interesting than some. So prepare for a bit of long reading.

We met backstage in the dressing room as an opening band was about to perform, and then had to move outside by the equipment, with crew shuffling about between. Between the serious discussions, there was a bit of sarcasm here and there - just to note, for those uninitiated.

The meeting started in discussing tattoos. Matt was recalling a story of someone known to the band who had his entire scrotum area tattooed as follows...

K2K: The interview begins with Matt talking about...
Matt Wachter:
A Lipton tea bag tattooed on nuts, on someone who shall remain nameless.

K2K: But Lipton shall remain named.
MW:
Quite possibly the coolest tattoo I’ve ever seen.

K2K: So you’re saying that you saw a man’s nuts, and you enjoyed it.
Tomo Milicevic:
Yes. (laughs)

K2K: So we could say that one “swings”...
TM:
No!
MW: Don’t go twisting my words now. I said I appreciate the artwork on the nuts, not the nuts themselves. There is a difference.

K2K: When excited, does the tea bag swell?
MW:
No sir.
TM: Lord, God Almighty.

K2K: So let’s see... neither one of you two is an original member.
TM:
I’m the only one who’s really “unoriginal,” in the sense that there was someone before me. But neither of us are...
MW: The band was started by Jared and Shannon, the brothers. They got signed in 1998, and they were a band before that. I joined the band in 2001.
TM: And I joined the band in 2003.

K2K: How long has the band been together?
MW:
Pretty much forever. Jared and Shannon have been playing together since they were kids.
TM: Well over 10 years.

K2K: How old are Jared and Shannon now?
TM:
Old.

K2K: Old as in their 30s?
MW:
Old as in their 20s.
TM: They’re old. Just know this... they’re old.

K2K: Where is the band based out of?
TM:
Los Angeles.

K2K: What is the band name from?
TM:
That’s definitely a Jared question. The band name came from a fortune cookie, and then he found it in some other books. When he found a reference to the band name in another book, it was like some weird thing. It’s a long story and I don’t want to go into it. I do know it, but it’s so boring. Just enjoy the name.

K2K: Anything to do with Sci-Fi at all?
MW:
No.
TM: Absolutely nothing to do with space at all. Not one shred.

K2K: Is Mars a metaphor?
TM:
Totally a metaphor. It’s really a metaphor for the impending advancement of technology.
MW: Mars also being the God of War definitely has...
TM: It has more to do with the Greek version of the word Mars, meaning the God of War. It has nothing to do with space and time travel.
MW: Yeah. So don’t bring little “My Favorite Martian” dolls to the shows, because we’re going to look at you like...
TM: And then we’ll just throw them in the garbage. Yeah.

K2K: So that screwed up the rest of my interview questions. Thank you very much and...
MW:
No? OK. Done. (laughs)

K2K: What are the lyrics about?
TM:
The lyrics are about whatever you want them to be about. There is no story behind them. At least not one that we’ll ever tell. It’s out there really for your own interpretation. We’re not interested in telling you what he [Jared] was thinking about.
MW: I don’t want to know what [Led Zeppelin’s] “Stairway To Heaven” is about.

K2K: I don’t think even Robert [Plant] knows.
MW:
I have my version of it, of what it means to me, and that’s the most important thing.

K2K: The reason I asked that is that... and why I asked the Sci-Fi reference question... is that it seemed to go into a direction...
TM:
If anything, this album “A Beautiful Lie” particularly, the lyrics mostly have to do with the struggle of one person - whomever that person may happen to be - and the choices that they have to make. It’s like you’re at the crossroads and you can go one way or the other way. There’s a right path and a not-so-right path. It’s more like about a guy who’s making a choice about the right path to go down.
MW: It’s something that everyone can relate to. I think everybody comes to that point in their life where...
TM: You have to choose. “What am I going to do?” That’s what this album is about.

K2K: Suddenly it’s another “Stairway To Heaven” reference with the “two paths you can go” comments.
MW:
If someone were to start playing “Stairway To Heaven” right now, it would be like serendipity. If there was a Guitar Center around here, I’m sure we’d hear it.

K2K: It doesn’t matter how young the kids are these days, they still play it.
TM:
The fact is that it’s a fun guitar part to play. It’s just fun. It’s a cool chord progression. When you actually, physically play the start to “Stairway To Heaven,” it feels like you’re actually playing guitar. And that’s why people play it.
MW: [Deep Purple’s] “Smoke On The Water” is good to learn power chords..
TM: They’re actually not power chords. That’s a big misconception.
MW: You know what... I’m not going to get into a big frickin’...
TM: Ritchie Blackmore plays perfect fourths, not fifths.
MW: OK. Boring, boring, BORING, boring.
TM: I think kids out there should know that “Smoke On The Water” is not power chord progressions. It is actually a progression of perfect fourths, which is a big misconception.
MW: The semantics of “Smoke On The Water” by Tomo Milicevic.
TM: Just trying to clear up some confusion. That’s all.
MW: Thanks a lot.

K2K: Sweet.
(everyone laughs)

K2K: And again, that;s the end of the interview. Thank you. (laughs) An hour later, we finish the “Smoke On The Water” discussion. How does this all relate to 30 Seconds To Mars?
MW:
Who cares.
TM: It doesn’t matter, because I’m right and that’s all that matters.
MW: Wow! I’ve heard this conversation four times already. “I’m right and that’s all there is to it.”

K2K: What other song can we discuss the butchering of?
TM:
So many.
MW: Oh yes!

K2K: Those are the two classics though, “Stairway To Heaven” and “Smoke On The Water,” aren’t they.
TM:
Or, a big favorite around music stores around America is definitely “Seek And Destroy” by Metallica. That’s definitely a “first song.” When a 10-year-old kid comes into a store and says, “I want to rock!”, they teach him “Seek And Destroy” probably within one of the first two or three songs. That was the first song I ever learned.

K2K: So what is the perfect power chord song?
TM:
The perfect power chord song has got to be “Baba O’Reily” by The Who.
MW: (in self amazement) I... I’m going to agree with you. For once.

K2K: I think I will too. In this case, you are right.
TM:
When you hear Pete Townshend hit those chords, when they come in, it’s so epic. The way he hits them. There are probably some better ones, but at the top of my head, that’s what I think of. I just picture him swinging his arm on those chords.

K2K: This may be a Jared question, but what was the basis for forming the band?
TM:
They were always playing together since they were kids. It was always a band. Then they went through some changes and it became 30 Seconds To Mars.
MW: Initially when I started, it was more of an art project, this weird prog-rock project. They would play under different names all the time. Every gig they would change their name. Even when I joined the band, it was kind of... We did no press, no photos. Then there was a reason for that. We wanted the music to speak for itself. It did. Now we’re doing interviews and photo shoots, because we’ve won that battle. We’re on to the next.

K2K: I first saw the band on Jay Leno.
TM:
That was actually the last performance of the first guitarist.
MW: The first performance of Tomo was on Craig Kilborne.

K2K: That was the show I first saw, Jay Leno, and I remember thinking how cool it was. I thought this was one of the hottest bands to come out recently. Then they announced Jared’s name and I thought, “Damn, that’s going to kill it right there.” I thought the press was going to jump on it and rip it to shreds with no chance.
MW:
(laughs) In all honesty, that’s a fair assumption to make. I think any person would kind of go into this thing being a little skeptical.
TM: Name one band other than us that did a good job [with that]. You can’t, really.
MW: I think in other genres of music... but for rock music, the kind that we play, there hasn’t been...

K2K: When the sports stars came out with albums, it killed it. There was one that was especially bad. But then soccer player Alexi Lalas came out with a great album, but by that point the press was all over destroying sports stars and actors who try music.
TM:
Alexi Lalas is from Michigan, which is where I’m from. He is a sick player.

K2K: Have you heard his album? It’s awesome!
TM:
Yeah. I have that album. But the point is that we did it right. Earlier, they didn’t want to do any press because they wanted the music to speak for itself. But now...
MW: This isn’t some vanity project for Jared. He’s in this for the music, for the right reasons.
TM: There is no money in this.
MW: Exactly. If he wanted to make money, he’d be doing movies full time.
TM: And he’s definitely thrown away a lot of money opportunities.
MW: We were about to go on tour when Clint Eastwood called him up and said, “I want you to be in my new movie.”
TM: He said, “No. I’m going on tour.”
MW: And this was opening slot. Supporting before four bands. I think that that’s a testament right there.

K2K: Regarding the stipulation that you won’t tour or play shows if Jared’s name is being used as “actor” to advertise the shows...
TM:
That was in the past. But it’s not fair to us when that happens, and it’s not fair to the other bands. It’s not fair to Jared, because it automatically puts a tag on the show.

K2K: So regarding the stipulation... You said it was not OK in the past...
TM:
Because in the past, it was before people had even heard the band. Now we can sell tickets because people know that we’re good and they like the music. But in the past it was like, “Let’s go see Jared Leto’s band.”
MW: There are still what we call “Looky-Loo’s,” just for that. But it’s inevitable at this point. But we’re at this place where we feel comfortable. We’ve already presented ourselves. People know that we’re a real band and not some, you know... I remember walking in Florida, where we had a few shows, where I saw they prominently had his name and picture on the flier.
TM: It’s a strict rule. It’s part of the contract with the promoter saying, “You cannot do this.”
MW: It’s not that we’re trying to be dicks. We’re trying to present the band, and the music, in the way that it should be.
TM: If you put that name there, all we’re going to get is little girls who want to see Jared. But that’s not fair to the rest of the band.
MW: Unfortunately, with that, that burns out fast. That’s strictly a fad thing.
TM: You want the young kids, but you want the right young kids. You want the young kids who are going to grow with your band because they love the music. We’re going to constantly deliver good records, but... especially with young high school kids... They are so fickle that when next year comes, they don’t want to listen to the same band because it’s not “cool” anymore. They want to listen to the new band who is young and no one knows about.
MW: I’ve seen fans out here who I saw five years ago when we first played this place. Same fans. We have fans who grow with us and continue to evolve with us. We’ve changed our sound on the next record, and they’re still there. I think that’s a testament to our fan base.
TM: And that’s why we don’t want to use his name. We wanted to have the shot of any other band who didn’t have a celebrity actor in the band. To Jared, if it was just him and he didn’t care about the rest of us, maybe he wouldn’t care if it was like that. But it’s his brother in the band who’s going to get shafted if it’s not done right. We’re in the band, we’re going to get shafted if it’s not done right. So it’s really for all of us, as a group, to be fair to say, “We’re an actual band. We’re not some bullshit. We’re struggling. We have no money. We’re all poor as hell. We’re trying to do it just like any of these other guys out there. We’ve been doing it a bit longer, and we work very, very hard. There’s no time off for us.

K2K: You brought up something earlier... In talking about “Stairway To Heaven.” How old are you two?
TM:
I’m 26.
MW: I’m 30.

K2K: So, we have just about a 10 year age difference or more. Things changed a lot in a 10 year gap from when I was growing up listening to music. When talking about fickleness... Back in the old days, you had very defined bands and musical styles. You had Led Zeppelin, you had Genesis, you had Pink Floyd, KISS, Boston, or whatever... Each band was “that” band. They could do whatever they wanted to do within them, and they changed on every album, but the fans stuck with them. That was artist development. No one told them what to do. They created and it was the record company’s job to push them. Do you think it’s a sad state of affairs that we absolutely do not have that today?
MW:
Absolutely!
TM: Absolutely! Like now... I was just talking about this a year ago. I was talking about how record companies are no longer looking for that “one great band.” There’s no Alice In Chains, no Soundgarden. Alice In Chains was this incredible band. Jerry Cantrell wrote some amazing songs. They [record company] put all their profit into him, because they knew he was going to produce good shit. Now, instead of doing that, they split that chunk of money into 50 grand for 50 bands. They say, “Make a record. Have fun. Hopefully you guys make it.” Then one out of those 50 bands might do something.
MW: And they [record companies] get their tax write-off at the end of the year.
TM: Right. That’s how it is now, instead of... OK, we have really good A&R people who have really good taste in music, and love music...

K2K: Are you talking about your band?
MW:
We are very fortunate in our situation. The fact of the matter is, that a lot of labels don’t have that.
TM: We’re lucky. That old-school style that you’re talking about, that’s how it is for us.

K2K: With Virgin?
TM:
Yes. We have all the attention. We produce hardly any profit for them, but they still put all the money and time into us because they believe that we’re going to eventually produce a career.
MW: Most labels, if you don’t go gold or platinum on the first time around, you’re done. You’re considered a failure. To me, 100,000 records is a lot of records. But not to the coin counters.
TM: So how is a band supposed to get known, except by touring. You’re not going to sell a million records by two years of touring. It doesn’t work like that.

K2K: I had read an article lately that asked if radio is basically following whatever trends are being set by MTV now.
MW:
There’s an exception to the rule here in Santa Cruz.
TM: Santa Cruz is definitely different. X-103.9, they play whatever the hell they want. It’s great.
MW: In fact, they just let Tomo and myself come and take over the station and play whatever we want.

K2K: Would you say that Virgin is one of the better record companies out there?
TM:
For us, yes. I don’t know how it is for other bands, but for us, definitely. I know that Warner Brothers is one of the good labels out there, because they have great A&R people out there, and they pick great bands, and then they invest in them. They invest in their bands. There are bands on that label who don’t sell a lot of records, but they’re always on the road, and they’re always being pushed.
MW: We have met plenty of bands and heard their stories...
TM: Yeah, and it makes you crazy.
MW: We are very lucky.
TM: I have to say, it has a lot to do with Jared. He knows how to deal. He’s not an idiot. He knows the way the business works, and he knows how to get what’s right for us. We’re very lucky to have someone in the band who knows how to do that. I certainly don’t. I’m not eloquent enough to get it, and I don’t know enough to get it. He’s [Jared] been in the entertainment industry long enough that he knows his shit. So that also helps.
MW: I think a lot of kids, including myself... they get into this industry thinking that they’ll get signed and then you get a bunch of people watching your back. That’s not the case.
TM: When you’re from Detroit, you think, “Major label? I’m set.” The reality is that you get signed and you’ve just basically fucked yourself. You just guaranteed yourself half a million dollars in debt. You just put that on your balance book right away.
MW: But I don’t want to discourage kids.

K2K: But kids should know what they’re getting into , which is why it’s important to talk about this.
MW:
It’s hard work though.

K2K: Right. You’re not supposed to get into this business to party and stuff.
TM:
Check this out. We don’t party.
MW: We’re not Mötley Crüe.
TM: I’m the only guy in the band who smokes weed, and I hardly do that. You just can’t do that.

K2K: (whispering sarcastically in mic) Tomo Milicevic - avid pot smoker. Take note.
(everyone laughs)
TM: OK, yeah. Pot smoking is OK, especially in Northern California.
MW: (laughing in back)
TM: I don’t even know how guys like Mötley Crüe did it. But the fact is that that was a different time. People bought the records because they were told to.

K2K: I don’t think that’s changed much.
MW:
That’s true.
TM: But the difference is that rock back then is what hip-hop is now. Hip-hop and that kind of music is what people love, and it’s the common sounds for young kids. Rock is total underground, non-mainstream music.

K2K: What do you think about Avenged Sevenfold?
TM:
I love them!

K2K: I just started getting into them because I saw that so many people were into them. I wanted to check it out. I’ve been into your band for about 3 years now. But Avenged Sevenfold, I found... especially that song “Bat Country,” they are bringing back everything that was good about metal from the 1970s and 1980s.
TM:
And that is their whole point. That is their whole mission. They just shred.

K2K: They’ve taken even some of the great guitar playing, well, the stuff that people like Yngwie used to kill rock music with, but they [Avenged Sevenfold] add these parts tastefully. Just enough.
TM:
I love that band because they are like this (sticking middle finger in air) to everyone and it still got on KROQ and TRL because kids wanted to hear it. And that is so, so good for rock music. Now they’ve opened the door for bands who can do it well, to get in there. Real rock bands will have a chance. The thing with rock ‘n’ roll is that what’s cool in rock ‘n’ roll, to me, is not cool. Like the Strokes, and shoe-gazing pussy bands. Even though I like their records to listen to, I would never go see them live. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep at a show. Avenged Sevenfold, they come out on stage, and they bring a real show. They’re larger than life. They’re coming to present something to kids that kids have to fantasize about. It’s like, Jared said this to me once before when I joined the band... He said, “There’s two types of bands. There’s bands where kids watch and say, ‘That’s me up there. I can do that.’ And then there’s bands like us.” Or bands liked Avenged Sevenfold, or Pink Floyd, or KISS, where fans go to the show and say, “I wish that I could do that.” That’s what rock music is supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be obtainable. It’s supposed to be, “Oh my God! How do you do this?” How do you become these people? That’s the point. It’s theater. It’s supposed to be dramatic and bombard you.

K2K: That’s what grunge killed, music in general, because it killed the theatrics.
MW:
But it had the element of theatricality.
TM: If you talk about the originals.

K2K: I’m talking about a lot of the bands who dressed down and said, “We’re just like you, man.” Well, I don’t want to pay $30. to see someone “like me” up onstage. I can do that at home, alone. I want to be entertained.
TM:
Alice In Chains. Mudhoney.
MW: That had to happen.
TM: Those bands, in a sense, were larger than life because they were so good. Who can sing like Chris Cornell? No one. They were normal guys in how they looked and acted, but you could never be those guys. But then all the copycats of those bands, like you’re talking about. Even down to Smashing Pumpkins, who came after all that. But they turned out to be great, because they came out with “Siamese Dream” and crushed everybody.

K2K: To get back to what you guys are about... In talking about theatricality... What about the image and visuals of what 30 Seconds To Mars presents?
MW:
All in house.
TM: It’s all created by us. That has to do with Jared and Shannon’s love of bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Rush. These bands weren’t just music, it was a whole visual aspect of a show. You weren’t going to just listen to a band play. You could close your ears and just watch what was happening and be equally entertained. That’s where we get that stuff from. We want to have a full media, multimedia... If we could do the show that we wanted to do...
MW: Woo!
TM: It would be like, Pink Floyd eat your heart out.
MW: But there are no budgets for that.

K2K: What you said about fantasy in music is right too. To just listen to 30 Seconds To Mars in the car... with other stuff, I could just bebop along and such, but with you guys, I get lost in it all and try to figure out what’s happening.
MW:
For myself, growing up, I used music as an escape. It was a form of therapy. Psychologists were for pussies. I had music. Psychologists are morons We don’t need to get into that whole thing though.

K2K: Note to self... Tom Cruise’s best friend is talking to me.
(everyone laughs)

K2K: Tom... Tomo... both start with the same three letters.
TM:
It’s funny that the whole Scientology thing is like that. I’m not into Scientology at all, but I do agree with that part of it. Who in their right mind would put their kid on Ritalin? That’s basically poor man’s cocaine.

K2K: They did that to me for about a month until they heard the word “suicidal.’ That got stopped immediately.
TM:
It’s just not good. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but that’s a whole other interview.
MW: The point is, that music is therapeutic. We want to create an environment for escape. For kids to get together for an hour and a half and forget about their problems.
TM: We’ve definitely done that. Kids have come up to us and told us how our record has helped them turn their life around. There is no greater compliment than that. That means that what you did, that you would have done anyway, just helped someone through what was probably a very tough time in their life. That is so much more rewarding than any dollar amount that you could get for music.

K2K: It’s got to be a better feeling than just hearing compliments from the guy yelling, “You rock!”
TM:
We get that too, and that’s fine.
MW: The records that changed my life and saved me from really bad times. It’s a powerful thing.
TM: It is. I can honestly say that [Pantera’s] “Vulgar Display Of Power” is a record that made me decide that I want to play music.

K2K: Who writes the songs?
TM:
Jared does.

K2K: Completely?
TM:
Well, when you think about what a song really is... A song is a lyric and a melody. They dictate whatever anyone else in the band can do. So he comes up with the lyrics and the melodies. He also comes up with the root progression of a song and an idea is formed and then we all come together...
MW: Flush it out as a band.

K2K: That’s the first honest answer I’ve heard from anybody. Most people say, “We all put in ideas, so it’s all our song.”
MW:
That gets down to semantics, and this isn’t an ego trip.
TM: If the singer has a great melody, the melody is going to... That’s what shuts down the walls. Now this is where we are. There are only so many things that you can do to play underneath that melody. Jared comes up with some great melodies, so why fuck with that. When you have a singer in the band, you let the singer sing. Like, I’m not a shredder... well, I used to be.. this is not a guitar band. This is a band about songs, and Jared writes songs. You support the vocalist. When you have a vocalist in your band... When you have Robert Plant in your band, you support that fucking vocalist.
MW: You don’t shred over his vocal lines.
TM: When people listen to music, they listen to the singer. When a kid listens to a song, the first thing they hear are the lyrics. Most people. I’m not like that. I listen to the music. I don’t necessarily listen to the lyrics until much later. But most people, they connect with what the person is saying. At the lowest common denominator. Maybe super-hardcore music fans are different, but the majority of people connect with the lyrics.

K2K: What are your hopes for the band? In the coming days, years, or whatever...
MW:
To tell you the truth, we kind of live in the moment. It kind of sounds cliché, but we really do live in the moment. Knowing that... we’re not naive. This could potentially be over tomorrow. In this day and age of disposable heroes.
TM: Our record label has spent a lot of money on us already. They could have a meeting tomorrow and decide, “You know what? These guys are done.” It could happen. I don’t think it will.

K2K: I was still wondering why you are playing smaller places and not an arena yet.
TM:
Well, that has to do with radio. The amount of people who buy CDs are still directly linked to radio.

K2K: What is your shortest song and your longest song?
TM:
One minute and 51 seconds. The longest is “Fantasy” on the new record.
MW: It clocks in at 4 minutes and something.

K2K: In the idea of people who smoke weed a lot, time goes on and seems much longer than it is...
TM:
A lot of people think we’re a stoner band. A lot.

K2K: Well, the thing is that the way your songs progress and are presented, really make them seem a lot longer than they are. What are the influences for the band?
TM:
The influences for the band are... the big ones are Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes...
MW: Those are the ones that come together...
TM: The Cure and Depeche Mode.
MW: Individually, we all have drastic different influences.
TM: Like, I’m a metal guy. I listen to heavy, heavy metal.
MW: And I was pretty much raised on a healthy dose of hardcore punk. All together it creates a nice mix.

K2K: Have you ever considered touring with The Cure?
MW:
That’s kind of like opening for U2. It’s something that you just don’t do.

K2K: What about on a tour like what they did with the four opening bands, Curiousa.
MW:
Oh, with Interpol and Muse.

K2K: I love Muse. Why isn’t Muse big?
TM:
Muse is coming out with a new record. They are going to be big.

K2K: Why weren’t they big after that tour?
TM:
People didn’t get it. But they still sold 400,000 records, and that was technically their first American release. They had a record come out before, but it was way ahead of it’s time. That’s when Limp Bizkit was huge, so bands like Muse weren’t going to make it. They went back to Europe. They’re enormous there. They headline stadiums. Over there, their all good. Their new record is on par with [Pink Floyd’s] “Dark Side Of The Moon.” They’re going to be huge.

K2K: Do you see the return of progressive rock? With bands like you, that’s where you are headed...
MW:
I think the elements of prog-rock are coming back, but with a modern twist on it.
TM: You guys have Dredg around here.

K2K: I know of the band. I have friends who know them, but I haven’t heard them actually.
TM:
You need to listen to that band. You want to talk about prog-rock... oh man! They are amazing. Very small band nationally, but in the West Coast, very big.

K2K: What kind of places have you played?
MW:
Bowling alleys, basements... anywhere that would have us, we would play. Now to bring it to this level... We’re on our first national headlining tour, “Forever Night, Never Day.” It’s our own package that we put together. We’re calling the shots. We’re presenting 30 Seconds To Mars the way we’ve always wanted to . For us, this is a huge accomplishment.
TM: All we could ever hope for - to go back to your earlier question of what are our hopes - To be a little bit selfish, we could hope that we could headline a big theater tour with a really cool production.

K2K: I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t.
TM:
Just get the radio stations to play our stuff.

K2K: Are they playing it more now?
TM:
Yeah. “The Kill” is actually number 23 on the charts, so that’s not bad. And the video is not even out yet.

K2K: Who was on the first CD?
TM:
Jared and Shannon. Jared plays all the instruments except for the live drums.

K2K: Since neither of you appeared on the first CD, you didn’t get the chance to work with producer Bob Ezrin.
TM:
No.
MW: I met him.

K2K: It must have been a thrill to know he did the album. He produced Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” KISS’ “Destroyer,” and Alice Cooper’s stuff...
MW:
Just to meet the guy I was like “uhhhhhhh.”

K2K: What about your band’s Phoenix logo?
TM:
That’s all Jared. He’s obsessed with Greek mythology. All that stuff is part of his mindset.

K2K: You guys covered “Hunter” by Björk. Has she heard it?
MW:
On her website there was a mention of us. Just to be acknowledged by her or her people is phenomenal.
TM: I personally think that we crushed it [the song].
MW: That was kind of a special moment because we did that spur of the moment. We decided to record two extra songs for the album
TM: Our album leaked by six months before it came out. That was devastating for our first week of sales. We sold 26,000 records in our first week. It probably would have done double that.
MW: In the grand scheme of things, that’s not why we did it. We did it because we were inspired to do some songs. We had an opportunity in Chicago to go for two days.
TM: We also wanted to do a version of the record that no one had heard. We knew that 80% of the people had already had it. So we thought we’d put something on the record that they didn’t have access to. That’s one of the other reasons we did it. We did it because we had an opportunity. We did two songs, from inception to mixing, in two days. It was one of those hardcore things, 24 per day recording process. Just hearing Jared sing was like watching any great vocalist taking place.

K2K: Did you videotape it?
TM:
Oh yeah.
MW: We’re releasing a DVD coming up in the next year.

K2K: OK, getting into some personal questions... How long have you been playing bass?
MW:
Bass? I don’t know. I’ve switched a lot on instruments. I’ve been playing music my whole life pretty much. From drums to piano to guitar to bass. I don’t have a favorite. It’s just how I’m feeling at the moment.

K2K: And how long have you been playing [guitar]?
TM:
I started playing the violin when I was three years old. I was actually born and bred to be a concert violinist. Literally, I was bred to be a concert violinist. I started when I was three. My uncle is a virtuoso violinist. He has a Ph.D. from the U of M School of Music. Bill Milicevic. Then I discovered metal. I told my dad that I wanted to play guitar, so we made one.

K2K: He didn’t argue with you?
TM:
No, no. My dad was so supportive. He would say, “If you want to go to school and all that, that’s cool. But you’ll have a lot more fun playing music.”
(everyone laughs)

K2K: I wish I had your dad.
TM:
I was very lucky. My parents were always pushing for me to play music.

K2K: You were born in Croatia?
TM:
Yes. Sarajevo.

K2K: How old were you when you moved?
TM:
I moved in three shifts. First I came over when I was a baby. Then I went back and came back for a summer, and then went back. I was here permanently when I was in third grade.

K2K: What was the reason for moving out here?
TM:
Better life in America. The same reason everyone else comes to America. My parents knew that war was imminent in that country, but they didn’t know when, so they came here. Luckily. If I was still living in Croatia when the war happened, I would definitely be dead right now. Definitely, without question. I would be in the army by 16, fighting in the front lines by age 17.

K2K: So your parents are liking it out here too?
TM:
Oh yeah. It’s funny, when a foreigner comes to America, they almost always become successful, because the work ethic that it takes to come to a new country and start a new life... That ethic alone is enough to get anyone off of their feet. So my parents became very successful by the time I was 18. They started to have some money, and started a business. Now they moved to L.A. and opened a new restaurant.

K2K: What’s your uncle doing?
TM:
He’s still in Michigan. He teaches music in high schools and has seven different quartets that he runs. He also plays and conducts for the city symphony. He plays and records for the DSO.

K2K: How many members of your family are musical?
TM:
Every one. Every one, in some form or another. Everyone plays or sings or does something. Basically, growing up in my house was like... the weekend came and my parents would throw dinner parties, and by midnight everyone was drunk and was singing songs around the table. It was awesome. Everyone was playing music. It was always around me. I had no choice. If I had become a football player, I would be the outcast of my family... which is kind of funny.

K2K: Matt, who are your influences?
MW:
I was really... initially my parents would listen to a lot of classic rock and country. So I grew up listening to that, via them. When I started getting my own taste in music, I was listening to a lot of punk. The Clash, Sex Pistols, and eventually a little bit of metal and hardcore. I went through a lot of phases in music. I think that kind of helped me.

K2K: Any players influenced you?
MW:
Absolutely. Every single one of them. Everyone I’ve played with is... I was lucky enough to play with one guy [Dave Pino] who plays in Damone now. I’ve played in a lot of bands with him, and he taught me so much about guitar. He’s a virtuoso guitar player.
TM: One of the best guitar players I have ever heard in my life. It’s stupid how good he is. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him one night. We had dinner. [I asked] “How are you so good?” He said, “I just am, dude. I don’t want to blow sunshine up my own ass, but I’m just lucky. Look at my fingers.” They are bent perfectly. The genetic makeup of his hand is... if he did anything other than play guitar, he would be wasting his time.
MW: It was frustrating being in bands together, working shitty jobs, “What are we doing?” It made me who I am today.

K2K: Tomo, who are your influences?
TM:
Well, I started off with classical. Classical music and jazz. Up until I was 12 years old, and then I discovered Nirvana. Nirvana was the first band that I actually listened to. After Nirvana came Metallica and Pantera at the same time. Then I kind of put Nirvana to the side. It become metal strictly. Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, Morbid Angel... I just wanted to be the fastest guitar player living in the world. By the time I was 16, I was pretty fucking good. I could shred. I could play every Metallica song, every Pantera song. I just made it a focus to learn these songs. Then I got into the Pumpkins. I was thinking, “OK, these songs are pretty cool. I don’t understand how he’s making these sounds.” I didn’t understand how he made his guitar sound like that. So then I got more into that stuff. But once I... I played the violin up until I was 19 and then I stopped.

K2K: Did you play in any symphonies, when you were younger, in Europe?
TM:
No. Only here in America. I was the kid who was good at violin, and then I discovered guitar and that was it.

K2K: Who specifically are your influences for classical and jazz?
TM:
Classical music, I listened to jazz musicians. Stephane Grappelli. Unbelievable violinist. I never got to see him, but I have a lot of his CDs. For guitar players... guys like Al DiMeola, John Scoffield... these guys are so proficient at their instruments on a whole different planet.

K2K: Are you a John McLaughlin fan?
TM:
Absolutely. A Mahavishnu Orchestra and all that. It’s just like, a whole different planet. They’re not even on the same universe as we are, and I just love that. I don’t know if I have what it takes to even put the time into what they can do, but I love listening to it. And as far as other musicians, all of the music that I have ever listened to, in some shape or form, has inspired me to do music. But really, I stopped learning songs by the time I was 17 years old. I made it a point to not learn how to play any more music. I just wanted to write music, and learn how to do my own stuff. I know now that it would have been better served for me to spend a little more time learning some of the classics. It teaches you how to write songs. I didn’t do that, so the result is, now I have kind of a unique style that I play. The more and more I listen to other people, the more I realize that no one does what I do.

K2K: When I was about 16 to 18 is when I saw musicians like John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola. I have to say, considering our age differences, that it’s impressive that you know a lot of these artists who people should still know.
MW:
I don’t know what he’s talking about.
TM: I think that if you’re a real fan of music, and a real fan of musicianship, then you will discover these [artists] regardless. Those are the people who are musicians. You’re going to find them if you’re into that. Do you know that album, “Friday Night In San Francisco”?

K2K: With McLaughlin and the trio? I think I was actually at that show. Around 1980, right?
TM:
Are you fucking kidding me? It was 1980. It was Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin, and Paco Delucia set up on a stage. They put three mics up, and acoustic guitars, and that was it. It is amazing. I was lucky enough when I was 20 years old, in Michigan... There was this bar called 5th Avenue. It’s in this city called Royal Oak, Michigan. It was this cool little hipster music club. They had totally pretentious jazz musicians playing there. It was like, if you can’t shred sweeping arpeggios, then you couldn’t even come into the club. You know? It was that kind of place. They had those three guys. The owner of the club knew one of them, and got them to come together and play a special show there. Well, I worked at this Mexican restaurant that the owner of the club came to all the time. He knew that I was into that stuff, so he invited me to the show. It was a private show. I got to see these guys in a club that holds about 150 people. These three guys, who are gods amongst guitar players, just destroyed everyone in that room. People left that room as though they had seen Jesus Christ come back. You know what I mean? It was one of those shows that I would never forget. You hear it on a record and you’re like, “Cool.” But I was only this far away [pointing between us] from Al DiMeola, watching him shred. There is nothing that can compare to that. When you see someone that good doing what they do best, at their best, it’s just unreal.

K2K: What about Les Paul? I saw him from three feet away, and got some great photos, at his surprise 90th birthday party at the CES Expo in Las Vegas last year. That was a private show at the Gibson tent.
TM:
I got to see Les Paul in New York. My dad, me, and my mom went to visit my sister once. He [Les] has a club there, in New York, that he plays at three nights per week still. This was like 1999 or 2000. I go with my dad and he surprises me. I didn’t know what we were doing. He’s like, “Les Paul. We’re going to see him right now.” I was like, “Holy shit!” Because I know the whole Les Paul story.

K2K: He’s only like the inventor of the electric guitar.
TM:
Pretty much. He’s the inventor of the humbucking pickup, which changed the sound of rock ‘n’ roll music completely. He was sitting there playing and I was saying, “Dad, we’ve got to figure out a way to meet him. I’ve got to shake his hand.” My dad’s really good at networking and inserting himself into situations. He said, “Come on, let’s go.” A security guard took us backstage. [To Les] he said, “This is my boy. He’s loves playing your guitars, and I’ve always played Les Pauls. Can you give my son some advice? You’re the innovator of this instrument.” And you know what he [Les] said to me? He said, “I have invented a short-cut for every aspect in this industry. I invented multitrack recording. I invented delay for vocals. I invented everything. But the only thing that I could never make a short-cut to, was practice.” I asked, “What do you mean by that?” He said, “You cannot short-cut on your practicing, because that’s the one thing that will make you a great player.” It was... just hearing that guy say that to me...

K2K: I know [guitarist] Frank Marino, and interviewed him a few years back. But just recently I read in an interview where he said that, aside from when he first started learning and playing, he has never practiced guitar since.
TM:
That might work for some people.
MW: For me, I’m not trying to be a virtuoso. I’m not trying to be the best bass player out there.

K2K: Ah, the Gene Simmons attitude...
MW:
Yeah, it’s kind of the same thing. I’m just out there to do what I do the best. I’m not slapping and tapping.

K2K: Just what’s good for the music.
MW:
Yeah.
TM: I totally agree with Matt. This is my argument... I don’t think you should practice if you don’t want to. But, if you hear a melody in your head, practicing that is only going to help extract that quicker. It’s like having a good set of tools. You’re trying to make a guitar, and you’re using Black & Decker tools, you’re going to fuck it up. But if you have the nicest precision tools, with the nicest precision cutters, it’s going to be a much easier process. The same thing when you hear a melody in your head and you don’t know any scales, you can put the time into it, like Jared - he doesn’t know how to play the guitar at all - but he gets there because he’s willing to put 30 hours into a song.

K2K: Jared doesn’t know how to play guitar?
TM:
Hardly. Hardly. He knows how to play his style, but from a traditional approach, not at all.

K2K: Are you serious?
TM:
Not at all. But he is willing to put the time into finding that melody. Practicing... the only advantage that that has is, if you hear that melody in your head, you’ll extract it faster. If you don’t hear a melody, and you don’t hear music, you can practice 20 hours per day, you’re still just going to be a mechanical guitar player. So practicing, I like to do it because I enjoy practicing. I like doing it. I like getting better at the guitar, and it helps with whatever I hear in my head, I can find it quicker. It gives you more time to refine what you play instead of trying to just find it.

K2K: Back to your dad and your first guitar... I wanted to touch a bit more on that.
TM:
Yes. When I said that I wanted to play guitar, he said, “Great. Let’s build one.” Our whole thought process was that we’ll save money this way. Totally untrue. We ended up spending about 5 times the amount of a good Strat to make this guitar. But, the experience was really cool and the appreciation that I have for this instrument is... I played it on the [latest] record. That guitar is now immortalized. It’s just my very first guitar that I learned how to play all those bands that I was telling you about. Not only has it made it this far, but it got to be played on a major label record. It’s immortalized forever. That guitar will always be there, on a recording.

K2K: Your dad’s got to be happy...
TM:
He was so proud. I could tell over the phone. I called him right afterwards and said, “Dad, I just played that guitar on a track and it was awesome.”

K2K: What kind of pickups?
TM:
EMG 89s. It’s a telecaster body with mahogany, bird-eye maple, and a Strat neck. It’s a weird hybrid combination, but we also have the pickups and the wiring is different than they did it. We wired it differently. Instead of having two tone knobs, we have just one, and then two volume knobs, and a three-way switch. So it’s slightly different. There is no other guitar like it, ever, in the world. There will never be one like this guitar. And it sounds really fucking cool. It’s not right for our band live, it just doesn’t carry that meaty Les Paul tone, but it’s cool for other shit. If I was to start another band, I would play that guitar. Definitely.

K2K: Do you play violin on any recordings?
TM:
No. We have a string quartet on the record, on the last track on the new one. I’ve actually been talking about getting a violin to play the lead violin line. Jared just plays that song acoustic with just quartet. We were thinking about getting Matt to play acoustic guitar, I play the violin, and Shannon just plays the kick. The whole drum part is just a kick.
MW: As it is now, I think we ran out of inputs. We have so much gear as it is, I think that if we added anything else to mix it up... We’re going to do it.
TM: We have 16 channels open.
MW: We can streamline.

K2K: So for the last part of the interview, I’m going to start with Matt and then Tomo covering your personal lives. Matt, you apparently used to work in a slaughterhouse.
MW:
Yes.

K2K: How was that experience for you?
MW:
Bloody.

K2K: Have you ever read the book, “Dead Meat”?
MW:
No, but I’ve read “Slaughterhouse 5.”

K2K: That’s a Sci-Fi answer, to go back to the beginning. So you are a Sci-Fi fan after all.
MW:
(laughs) A little bit.
TM: Don’t be fooled. This kid goes to Trekkie meetings all the time.

K2K: There was a book that came out about slaughterhouses...
MW:
It’s the most dangerous job in America, working in a slaughterhouse.

K2K: For cutting accidents or other things?
MW:
Cutting accidents and, kind of human error in general.
TM: I worked in a slaughterhouse too. I had to carve the skin off of pigs faces.

K2K: In this book, “Dead Meat,” the author was not allowed to take photos, but drew pictures to go with the descriptions of what goes on in slaughterhouses. If anyone read this book, they would never eat meat again. So, are you vegetarian?
MW:
No, I’m not vegetarian.

(At this point, Matt gets really quiet and stares off into the far distance.)

K2K: OK, you’re pondering, wondering about the answer...
MW:
I can’t. I can’t do it anymore.

K2K: What?
MW:
I can’t do it anymore. That’s bullshit. (starts smiling) I’ve never worked in a slaughterhouse.
TM: This is a story that we started...
MW: This started probably four years ago. I’m so sorry. It’s... I can’t do this anymore. Rest assured that if I ever worked in a slaughterhouse, I would most likely NEVER eat meat again.
(everyone laughs)
MW: Never, ever again.

K2K: I got the idea that your label’s publicity agent is convinced that you did indeed work in a slaughterhouse.
MW:
Everyone is.
TM: Everyone is. I actually didn’t believe it at first, but then I said, “Did you really?”
MW: Now granted, I’ve worked some shitty jobs, but NEVER worked at a slaughterhouse. No, I never did. I came clean.

K2K: Reasons to hate the press... I have forced you into honesty.
MW:
I consider myself a fairly honest person. That’s just one that I can’t keep up anymore.
TM: I agree.
MW: My days of being a pathological liar are over. It started as... I think we were doing an interview and it was really just going nowhere.

K2K: Like this one... Nothing much to talk about.
MW:
No, no. This is one of the most engaging interviews we’ve ever done. It was just one of those things were it was just going nowhere. They gave ridiculous questions, so we gave ridiculous answers.
TM: We do that. If you don’t do your homework, and you ask one of those stupid questions like, “What’s your favorite muffin?”, I’m going to give you a stupid fucking answer.
MW: “Bass player... If you could be a Hot Pocket, which Hot Pocket would you be?”

K2K: You have got to be kidding?
TM:
No. Not kidding. And my dumb ass, I’m like, “Well, I guess I’d be a mushroom.”
MW: “I’m a ham and mustard and...”
TM: And then I thought, just realizing, “Wait a minute. I’m actually taking this question seriously.”

K2K: This interviewer thought they were asking an artsy question and it was really just wrong.
TM:
Yeah, it was stupid.
MW: Our threshold for bullshit has grown small.

K2K: My whole purpose of starting with the slaughterhouse question was to see what you thought of the film “Supersize Me,” or the book, “Fast Food Nation.”
MW:
“Fast Food Nation” was actually how I learned that fun little fact about America’s most dangerous job. It was in honesty a book that I did not read. I listened to it on tape as a Book On Tape, while driving across the country. Now, when you’re driving across country, your food options are limited - mostly to fast food. So, needless to say that I went hungry for a long while. I was eating rice cakes [thinking] “These are OK, right? Water’s good, right? Right?”
TM: You read that book and you don’t feel so bad eating at Jack In The Box. You think, “They’re actually all right.” Because after Jack In The Box got fucked for E-Coli... their standards got way up.

K2K: Wendy’s I heard is supposed to be the best.
TM:
Wendy’s I heard is the best meat. Yeah.

K2K: [To Tomo] So are you actually a certified chef?
TM:
That is true. I actually am a certified executive chef. I specialize in wedding cake decorating.

K2K: How romantic.
TM:
I was actually really good at it. I was 19 years old. I was interning at a place in Rochester, MI, which is a nicer part of town. Rich people live there... rich for Michigan. I was making wedding cakes that were costing $5 - 10,000. It’s really just the time that you put into it, and the type of things that you’re making for. It takes about 20 hours to make some of these cakes.

K2K: Are you serious?
TM:
Yeah. Like gum paste flowers and stuff... You don’t just pull those out of a box. It’s gum paste. You fashion the petals, and then you paint the petals with edible inks and stuff. Pastry chefs... it’s a science. Like hot food cooks, it’s a lot of “Let’s try a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” But in baking, it’s a science. It has to be exact or else it’s not right. You don’t get to add something to the batter once it starts baking. You have to get it right the first time or else you have to start over. That’s why pastry chefs are often times looked at as the higher caliber of chefs. I don’t agree with that, but there’s more education with that.

K2K: So you’re a Pastry Chef.
TM:
Yes. And I’m certified. I have a certificate that says I’m allowed to do this for a living.

K2K: “Allowed” Like, “I’m allowed”?
MW:
(laughs)

K2K: That’s like, “Can you make me a sandwich? You can’t, but you there are allowed.”
MW:
When Tomo’s in a grocery store, he has to turn a blind eye to the bakery department. He can’t look at the cakes.
TM: I was also really into sugar art. It’s very similar to glass blowing. You do that with sugar as well. You can fashion balls and different things and stuff. I would do whole displays for the wedding cakes, made out of sugar, and put the wedding cake on top of it. There’s this other stuff called isomalt. It’s a form of sugar, but made by people specifically for this art form, because it’s more stable. You see, when cooking sugar, if any moisture gets into it, it crystalizes immediately. You can’t use it anymore. Once moisture gets in, you have to throw that batch away. So this stuff called isomalt is what chefs made to be able to make this art. They still feed it to people, but it tastes disgusting. You can eat it, but you’re not supposed to. It’s just for display. Sugar, when you cook it, if you don’t watch the temperature, it turns brown. Isomalt stays clear so you can paint it any color you want.

K2K: So you can cook too. Do you ever cook for the band?
TM:
Never have.
MW: He never has.

K2K: Have you guys asked him?
MW:
Yes!
TM: Yes they have.

K2K: So what’s your problem?
TM:
I don’t really want to do it, to be honest. It’s a big pain in the ass. I love cooking. In my defense, we’ve never had a day to sit down and have dinner together. We do so much shit together that when we have a day to rest, we don’t hang out together.
MW: See ya!
TM: That’s the last thing I want to do...
MW: You know what’s funny, in all honesty... I worked in a restaurant industry for a long time. All the head chefs eat Twinkies and McDonald’s. It’s like, “You guys are taught, like great chefs, and you eat junk food.”
TM: Cheffing for a restaurant is, arguably, one of the hardest jobs to do. I worked where I ran the kitchen... I was Head Chef a couple of times... Other than being in a band, that’s the hardest job that there is. You work every holiday. You work a minimum of 18 hours per day. The Head Chef. That’s the guy who’s there from the time it opens until it’s time to leave. He has to be. Unless you have a really good Sous Chef, who you really trust. I never did. I’m not going to put my ass on the line for some stoner idiot who’s going to ruin my numbers. Know what I mean?

K2K: I’ve taken a few classes in cooking and baking, but I rather like inventing things myself.
TM:
Going to culinary school is the biggest waste of time of my life. If you want to learn, you get a job at a nice restaurant. You start off in the dish tank and you work your way up. What happens is that the chef will always notice the guy who wants to learn. He will work you up. A chef who, especially if he owns the restaurant, he wants to build a staff who’s going to be there forever. Some people really want to cook. They really want to do that because they’re interested in it. You find those kids. I learned more in a year, less than a year, six months, working in a good restaurant than I did in 2 1/2 years of culinary school.

K2K: In cooking, what’s your favorite dish to cook?
TM:
It depends. I like cooking Japanese cuisine a lot. Very small portions. Very complex flavors. Just tasting the ingredients. They use really interesting oils for flavoring. You know, most people use canola oil, or olive oil, and that’s cool, but... You’re not even supposed to cook with olive oil. Not really. Extra virgin olive oil is only supposed to be used for salad dressing. It’s just that it has such a low smoke point that you can curdle it, and it actually tastes funny. Extra virgin cold-press olive oil, you’re not supposed to get hot. It’s for dipping bread and salad dressing. Technically that’s what it’s for. They have lower count olive oils that you can cook with, but it’s not the same.

K2K: I cook with extra virgin and I like it. What should I use?
TM:
If you like it, that’s OK. Most people cook with it and that’s OK. But technically that’s not what it’s made for. It’s made for cold use.

K2K: I’ve read that it will change if you get it hot enough, but you can’t do that in a home environment.
TM:
You can. You can do that on a 10,000 BTU burner. It changes form. It just tastes bitter. But what’s really dangerous about olive oil that most people don’t know, is that if you get it too hot and let it sit out, it can actually kill you. It develops some kind of enzyme that will kill you. You are not supposed to leave olive oil out. That’s another thing. Not in a fridge, but a cool environment, like where you would keep your red wine. It should never be above 60 degrees.

K2K: What about regular cooking and saving it for later use?
TM:
Oh no, no. Never, never do that. When you cook olive oil and it has particles of food in it, then those particles will begin to create bacteria. That’s going to spawn. Olive oil is a fertile breeding ground for that. If you want to save... render bacon fat and save that. If you cook the fat out of bacon and strain that, you can save that in your fridge and that’s actually a really good fat to use. Cook the strip of bacon, the oil that’s left behind, strain that, and cook your eggs with that. Then tell me that those weren’t the best eggs you’ve ever had in your life.

K2K: I had meant someone with a science background who said that if she was to cook with anything, she would rather cook with lard, because it’s an “actual” food.
TM:
Yes. A natural food. When you cook with predigested food - meaning, something that went through the body of an animal... Butter came from an animal to be used for something else. It’s really not good to cook with butter because it’s a predigested food. Honey, butter, milk... these are not actually meant for humans to consume. They’re made for the babies of these animals to consume. Honey, essentially, is bee puke, more or less. That’s really what it is. We like how it tastes because it has a lot of sugar in it, but it’s not good for you at all.

K2K: Really? I thought it was good for you because of the antibacterial properties.
TM:
Maybe, but predigested foods, our bodies are not designed to digest.

K2K: What do you suggest in the meantime then?
TM:
Well, don’t cook with butter. I’m not going to stop cooking with butter, because I like it. But if you want to be super health conscious, don’t eat any dairy products at all. Eggs and all that really are not good for the human body. Egg is the embryo of another animal. It’s not meant for you to eat it. It’s funny as we’re talking about this... my parents just opened a restaurant in L.A., and when we’re on break, I want to go cook there. I miss it. I haven’t done cooking on the line for a while. I miss making eggs for people.

K2K: Would you let your fans know when you’re going to be there cooking?
TM:
No.

K2K: Why? If Jared can be famous for his acting, then you should be famous for your cooking.
TM:
You know what? I would let them know, just so my parents could make some fucking money.

K2K: Now you’re thinking. It’s branding and marketing.
TM:
I will. I will let them know.

K2K: I’ll come down there and bring a video camera.
TM:
And I’ll play jazz guitar in the corner.

K2K: So what oil do you recommend to cook with?
TM:
Canola oil is the best to cook with. It’s very low in fat. It has a very high smoke point, which means that you can get it extremely hot. When you cook something in extremely hot oil, it actually does not absorb very much of it. Sesame seed oil, and peanut oil, but those have a lower smoke points so you have to be careful with them to not burn them. As far as health, rice or canola.

K2K: Any other health tips?
TM:
The funny thing is that I’m the least healthy person. All those things that I was talking about is what you learn in culinary school. It’s like, this is what it really is, and this is what most people do. It’s like, cooking with butter, although while really tasty, is extremely bad for you. Butter just absorbs, oil doesn’t. Oil heats from the outside. You know when they tell you to heat up a pan before you put in the oil? There’s a reason for that. Then, what happens is that the oil is sitting on top of a layer of heat. You never actually mixing in with anything in there. When you get the oil hot enough, you’re instantaneously searing the outside layer of whatever it is you are cooking. You’re just cooking outside heat. If you cook properly, you will never absorb oil. Deep fried food, when prepared correctly is actually not very high in grease. If you do it the right way at the right time... What deep frying food does is expels all the water out. As soon as all the water’s out, that’s when the grease starts coming. You know how to tell when the water is done. You can pull it and it won’t be greasy at all. You can go to a nice Japanese restaurant and get some Tempura or something. When it’s prepared correctly, it’s actually pretty light.

K2K: Teflon pans. Danger or not?
TM:
I don’t use them. I don’t think they are a danger, you just have to get good pans. I know what you’re talking about because of teflon getting into people’s food. You buy good quality products. You get what you pay for. Jared said once that he heard [actor] Pierce Brosnan in some advertisement say something cheesy like, “Don’t be afraid to buy the best. You won’t be disappointed.” and that’s actually true. If you buy an All Clad pan, you’re going to have it for the rest of your life. Second, you’re not going to get sick from it ever.

K2K: It’s like coffee... there’s a big difference between buying cheap coffee which is bitter, or really expensive, good coffee. The ancient manuscripts talk about coffee being the “sweet drink.”
TM:
That’s absolutely true. I might go to the Coffee Bean and buy a $15. per pound bag of coffee, and I definitely notice the difference in the taste. Also, if you use tap water, it’s going to taste like tap water. You should always use bottled water. If you read the back of a coffee bag, they tell you exactly how you should use it. People put coffee in a freezer. You never do that. You put it in an airtight container and put it in the cupboard. You don’t want those oils to shrivel up.

K2K: Since you guys don’t party... what do you do to either keep up or mellow out? Do you have any particular teas or anything? Coffee?
MW:
The fact of the matter is that we’re not in this for partying. I drink a lot of coffee.
TM: I drink a lot of coffee. I like tea too though. I like green tea.
MW: I don’t really drink tea so much. I just drink a lot of coffee.

K2K: I know it might sound like a strange question...
MW:
No.
TM: Some people snort coke before they go onstage.
MW: I’ve dumped a pot of hot coffee all over my head.

K2K: I just thought I’d touch on that for anyone who has notions about bands and thinks the wrong ideas of what people do...
MW:
There is no “wrong thing.” To each their own. If that’s what gets you to where you need to be, then so be it.
TM: I’ll tell you what... Slash can shred on a fifth of Jack Daniels. I can’t, so I don’t. You see me play drunk, you’ll be laughing your way out the door. Every once in a while I’ll smoke a little before going onstage if I’m feeling comfortable with the crowd, or if it’s not a super, super important show. Then I might do that a little bit, but very, very rarely. I think I’ve done that a total of five times since I’ve been in this band.

K2K: Aha! Taking notes for fans here... Not all shows are important.
(everyone laughs)
TM: If AP is in the crowd, or some kind of respectable music magazine, then I’m not going to get fucked up. If Gibson guitars is there to watch me play that night, then I’m not going to get fucked up. Actually, I did.

K2K: Any parting words before we get on with the night?
TM:
www.forevernightneverday.com
MW: And... don’t drink the water.

And with that, and everyone laughing along the way, the dynamic twosome went to get ready for their performance, and we took off across the street for some much needed Mexican food - of course returning before 30 Seconds To Mars got onstage.
Stay tuned... you never know if a “Cooking Tips With Tomo” column might be coming to KAOS2000 in the future. Stranger things have happened.

Written by Philip Anderson / Photos © 2006 Philip Anderson and Keith Denison

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

All rights reserved © KAOS2000™. No portion contained herein, either text or graphics, may be reproduced anywhere or reposted on any other website for any purpose without the expressed permission of the publisher. All violations shall be punished as the law allows.

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