Continued from page 1

“My brother would play drums and I’d play guitar, and I would beg Jeff _ this amazing, incredible piano player, producer, musical genius _ to come perform with me so I could make this 100 bucks, and he would drive all the way from Santa Monica to the Valley to do these gigs with me,” Mars said of his relationship with Bhasker years ago. “And we’d play covers and have fun and get drunk.”

Mars said Bhasker _ whom he calls a “mad scientist” of a producer _ was one of the first people he collaborated with when he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career.

“We were both kind of wet behind the ears. And then one day he called me and was like, `I’m going on tour with Kanye West‘ and I was like, `What about the band bro? What about the band?’ He said, `F your band,’” Mars recalled in laughs. “And it’s nice to reunite and do what we never did _ which was finish a song.”

Indian-born Bhasker, who grew up in New Mexico, said he decided in high school that he was going to pursue music professionally, though his family was full of doctors and was unsure about his choice. Bhasker says he _ and his relatives _ are happy he chose a musical route, and he’ll get to show even more of himself when he releases his solo debut, “Born on the 4th of July,” this year. He performs under the moniker Billy Kraven and says the album’s theme is about soldiers, “what they have to face when they go to war and the concept of death.”

“I really got sick of writing songs about love and girls, which is the great basis of it, but something in me wanted to write what was going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if anything, just to have a conversation about it,” explained Bhasker, who said he drew inspiration from listening to NPR and watching the HBO series “Generation Kill.”

“In the past in rock `n’ roll and pop music, it was more common to address social issues and bring people together,” he added.

He says he’ll likely release the album independently and that he’s already started work on a second album. He could even call in some of his famous friends for assistance _ or not.

“I do have Nate on one song and Bruno singing background in a very subtle way,” he said. “But I think I’m just going to keep it pure.”


Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter at