In December 2012 Bruno Mars returned to film a segment for CBS talking about what it was like playing at the Pickwick Pub. Here is the interview
Bruno Mars: Singing is all I ever wanted to do
Bruno Mars talks to Lee Cowan For The Record
(CBS News) All told, Bruno Mars’ music videos have been viewed a staggering one BILLION times on YouTube. Not bad for a singer who was dumped by a big record label once upon a time. This morning, Bruno Mars talks to Lee Cowan For The Record: December 9, 2012 12:04 PM
By his own definition Bruno Mars is a musical melting pot.
He can spin from Pop to R & B to Reggae at the drop of that signature fedora.
“So, what would you say your style is?” asked Cowan.
“What’s my style? I’m a singer. I’m just a singer,” he replied.
And it’s the way he sings his love songs that put Mars into orbit just two years ago. “Grenade,” and “Just the Way You Are” both reached Number One on the Billboard charts, becoming two of the bestselling digital singles of all time.
His debut album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” sold more than 5 million copies. He was Billboard’s top male artist last year. And this week he’ll release his second album, called fittingly enough, “Unorthodox Jukebox.”
At 27 the boy from Hawaii seems to have it all.
Mars was asked if it was precarious, being on top of the peak.
“I’m a happy dude, Lee,” he laughed. “The fact that I even get to feel this, at this moment is enough. Enough.”
He was born Peter Gene Hernandez on the island of Oahu, to a Puerto Rican father and a Filipino mother.
His dad nicknamed him Bruno after a popular wrestler. Bruno then added Mars years later.
For him and his five siblings music was always the family business.
“My dad had this 1950s review show, very Las Vegas-style, and my uncle impersonated Elvis, and that was my favorite part of the show,” Mars chuckled.
Even at age two, Mars said he was taken with how girls were screaming for “Elvis.” “And as a young kid, you’re like, ‘I want that.’”
So when his dad put Bruno on stage he did the only thing he knew. His Mini-Elvis was an instant hit, becoming so popular that little Bruno was given a cameo in the movie “Honeymoon in Vegas.”
“I became a real, real attention whore after that!” Mars laughed.
At 18 he moved to Los Angeles. He and his brother started a cover band jokingly called Sex Panther, and he began performing anyplace that would have them. Places like Pickwick’s Pub, in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley.
He also wrote his own music. “I had a couple tunes that we would try out,” he said. Good ones? “No! Not at all!”
But soon he had inked a deal with Motown Records, and left Pickwick’s for bigger gigs – or so he thought. Turns out Pickwick’s actually left Bruno first. Within a few months Motown had left him, too, releasing him from his contract without ever putting out an album.
“How much of a blow was that when they dropped you?” Cowan asked.
“The biggest blow. That was a hard phone call, to call my mom and dad and say, ‘I’m no longer a signed artist and I gotta rethink this whole thing.’”
Broke, he started going to pawn shops. His guitars were all he had left to sell. Going home to Honolulu was tempting, but he resisted.
“If I had moved back to Hawaii, I felt I never would have made it back up here. I would have been at the Polynesian Review with a ukulele and an Aloha shirt, probably singing Elvis tunes. Again.”
So he teamed up with two other songwriters, Phillip Lawrence and Ari Levine. Their goal: To write a hit song. “We knew that we could do it. If we kept going, if we kept trying, if we kept pushing, we are going to write the song that’s going to change our lives.”
And it did. “Yeah. Wrote a few songs that changed our lives. You see the jewelry!” he laughed.
“Nothin’ On You,” performed with the hip-hop artist B.o.B, hit first. Then he co-wrote the Cee Lo Green smash, “Forget You.”
Finally, Bruno got his second chance at a label, and made the most of it.
“Just the Way You Are” won a Grammy, one of 13 nominations for him the past two years, and solidified his status as a star and a heartthrob.
Yet there were those who still had their doubts.
“There were some critics that said it was too sugary, too soft, too schmaltzy,” said Cowan.
“Well, they can go to hell,” Mars laughed.
“Does that bother you? I mean, the critics?”
“It doesn’t bother me. It’s just, shut up, you know? YOU write a song then, that’s how I feel.”
But just as everything was beginning to click, came a stumble. In September of 2010 Mars was arrested for cocaine possession. “I was embarrassed. It was me being extremely, extremely careless and not thinking,” he said.
He got probation and moved on, and up . . .
This year he helped headline the Grammys, rocked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, and hosted “Saturday Night Live” – even performing in drag. “You looked good, by the way,” Cowan noted.
“Thank you. I appreciate that. If they thought that could get a laugh, then why not go for it?”
His new album shows a more mature side, with more adult themes, like the single, “Locked Out of Heaven.”
“The inspiration for ‘Locked out of Heaven,’ I don’t know if we could say it on TV,” he laughed. “Come on Lee, we’re grown men.”
As he did from the start, he surrounds himself with friends and family. His brother still plays in the band.
As for Hawaii, Bruno did finally go home after all . . . to a packed arena, where perhaps not so coincidentally Elvis once performed.
“Ever since I was a kid this was all I wanted to do. I’ve wanted to do music. I wanted to sing. It’s all I know.”
“All those hard times, it feels like it goes to show that if you put in the work and you don’t stop believing, then it can happen.”