From the Vault: My interview with Bruno Mars last fall, just before his album was released. We went bowling at Lucky Strike! Originally posted on Idolator.
If music were bowling, Bruno Mars would be scoring strike after strike lately. His first solo single is #1 on the charts, the F-bomb-laden track he co-penned with Cee-Lo has everyone singing along (and then promptly washing their mouths out with soap), and he’s already got pubescent heartthrobs-in-the-making covering his hits.
So it’s only appropriate that Idolator checked in with the aspiring billionaire at Lucky Strike in New York City for an evening of bowling and cocktails, where we discussed the differences between East Coast and West Coast music fans, his retro-cool cover art, and preparing to make his mark on Saturday Night Live.
Phil Lawrence, Bruno’s pal and one-third of his producing team The Smeezingtons, was also in attendance, schmoozing and boozing along with the rest of the media on the lanes. Mars actually did bowl a strike or two, proving that his winning combination of mad skills and good fortune extends beyond the music scene. With great advance buzz on his album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (dropping tomorrow), it doesn’t seem Bruno will be rolling the musical equivalent of a gutter ball any time soon.
Okay, enough bowling metaphors. Let’s get to our chit-chat!
IDOLATOR: The last time we checked in with you, we were in L.A. Great to talk to you face to face on the same coast! Do you notice any difference between West Coast and East Coast fans?
BRUNO MARS: That is a good question. I have had some great shows in L.A., I’ve had some great shows in New York. I’ve had some so-so shows in L.A., so-so shows in New York. One of my favorite shows I’ve ever done was at the Bowery Ballroom [in New York]. I don’t know – give me another year on the road and I’ll tell you.
Of course there’s a great art department over at Elektra and Atlantic Records, but I have to be a part of it. So I tell them, “I want a silhouette of a woman,” and we go back and forth with ideas. So I have a lot to do with that.
And how do you think it reflects your sound?
I’ve always been a believer that I have no strings. I don’t have explosions, I’m not wearing makeup under one eye. There’s no gimmicks. I want to make sure the way I’m represented in the art – I’m a big fan of art, and album covers – I just want people to get that same classic feel I get when I see classic album covers.
[Video via Bark+BiteBlog]
You have the #1 song on the charts right now, congratulations.
Damn right I do!
That must feel great. Does it feel any different than the success you’ve with collaborations, or writing songs for other people?
You never know what’s going to be a hit. You just cross your fingers. It definitely feels nice that, thanks to B.o.B. and Travie McCoy and the songs we’ve done together, it means my voice has been a little more recognized these days. That definitely helped. But it is nice to see Bruno Mars, #1.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there a common thread between where you get ideas for songs?
It’s different every time. Sometimes it’s chords, sometimes someone will say something that really resonates with me and I want to turn it into a song. That’s the beauty of music, man – it’s free. You can do whatever the hell you want. You can write a 30-minute song. You’re supposed to be able to do that. It comes from everything. I’ll write a song about bowling tonight, watch!
I’ll say, “I was there when…”
I was there when he wrote “Pin Me Down!” [Laughs.]
Going along with that, do certain songs jump out at you as one you want to sing yourself, or one you want to pass on to someone else, or collaborate on?
Most of the time it works out, like, we’ll get a call from a label or an artist that wants to work. We’ll work with them and we get into this mind frame – like, when we were working with Cee-Lo on the “F You” song, we were in the mind frame, “Okay, we’re writing for Cee-Lo. This is Cee-Lo’s song, let’s make it the best we can make it, and make sure he’s leading the way.” That’s how it normally works.
You’re coming up as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live on October 9. Do you have a favorite SNL musical moment?
I just saw Radiohead on SNL, that was pretty amazing. I thought Jay-Z killed it the other week. But yeah, every artist would do anything to get on that stage.
Are you going to be involved in any sketches?
We’ll see! I don’t know how that works. They might surprise me, but I’m happy just performing. Gives me less things to fuck up.
Now that October is upon us, do you have any ideas for a Halloween costume? Or any particularly memorable ones?
The best costume I had was Prince.
How old were you?
It was last year – no, I’m kidding. [Laughs.] I’d just turned 21. I said fuck it, let’s go, and I was Purple Rain.
The past six or seven months, all the hard work I’ve put in trying to get my voice out there, and my music out there – I’m extremely happy. This is a dream come true for me. The main thing is, I just want to make music, and I’ll be good.