It's no secret that Adam Lambert was the ONE person I wanted to interview this year at EQ and I was very lucky enough to get ten minutes with the glam pop rock superstar to talk about all sorts of things that is going on is his big world – from his recent encounter with Boy George in London, to working with Sam Sparro, to his current hit single "Whatya Want From Me" to his thoughts on being out in the music business. I hope you enjoy this interview with Adam Lambert and you can bet that you'll see me at his UK shows this weekend as the UK finally gets a taste for Glambert live. Enjoy.
Hey Adam, nice to finally speak with you – you must be having the same issue I am in getting back to London this weekend for your shows!
Yeah – the damn volcano [laughs] It's craziness! I'm leaving Wednesday for the UK now. Yeah I can't wait, it's gonna be really fun!
The last time you were in London, I briefly met you at Boy George's single launch party and the next day the UK headlines were ablaze with "Boy George proclaims his love for Adam Lambert" – thoughts on that?
[Laughs] He was just being nice! I love the sensationalism of the media! Really it's starting to become very funny. He was just being friendly and we got a kick out of each other and he was very sweet and it was really great to meet him.
I know Boy George is one of your personal idols – what was it like to meet him?
He was just so down to earth. I was really just delighted to see how normal he was. He was just having a good time, doing his thing and still kickin – I love that! He knows who he is and is playing dress-up and I definitely identify with that.
I have to tell you Adam, some of your fans are really resourceful…
I know – tell me about it!
Before I even knew I was doing this chat with you, they were telling me all about it. What has been the most outrageous thing a fan has done…
You know – I get some interesting gifts [laughs] – I got a dildo thrown on me on the summer tour last year after American Idol. I'm like "What the fuck are you doing?" [laughs] I was totally delighted and hysterical at the same time – all while I'm trying to sing!
Hilarious – "For Your Entertainment" is one of my favorite albums at the moment, mostly because of it's diversity in genres. Were you worried that because the album is so diverse, that maybe people wouldn't get it?
Thanks! No I wasn't worried. There really isn't room for worry in the whole process. For me, I wanted it to be diverse because that's who I am as an artist and that's who I am as a listener – I don't like listening to one style of music, I like to listen to everything. I don't see what's wrong with making an album that's colouful and that goes in a bunch of different directions. I don't see why that's a bad thing. I think it's great – it gives the listener more of a journey and allows me as a performer to go on that journey and take my show in different directions – it doesn't get stagnant and doesn't sound the same the whole time…
I love the recent "Voodoo" collaboration you did with Sam Sparro – can you tell me how that came about?
Yes! He was someone who I really wanted to work with – he's great! He's a great musician. I remember when I heard "Black & Gold" for the first time, it was such a great song I had it on repeat. And I just wanted to work with him because he's such a great writer and we had such a great time together – he's awesome.
My favourite track from "For Your Entertainment" is definitely "Whatya Want From Me"…it's such an iconic track for you. When you first heard it presented to you – was there any doubts about the song?
Yeah I heard it and went – yup – that's a hit! [laughs] It's got such a beautiful sentiment to it – lyrically. I liked what it was saying and I knew that it was really catchy. After listening to it the first time, I already had the hook in my head – so I thought "yeah that's effective". I love that it's rock and pop – Max Martin does that so well.
For me – it's the lyric "yeah it's me, I'm a freak – but thanks for loving me" – that line gets me every single time…
It's one of the moments when I sing it live that I get a hearty reaction from the audience because it's so direct. It's summing the whole song up. I am a freak and I love it! [laughs] and I am proud of it. I think that's what it's saying in that moment of the song. You know what – I am what I am and I am different and I love it and thank you for loving it – that's just gratitude.
You recently went back to Idol and mentored this year's contestants – how was that being on the other side as a mentor? Did it feel odd at all?
It didn't feel odd. It's funny when I was doing the show last year I found myself in the house we were living in quite often helping the other contestants. I'm competitive – but more so with myself. I didn't feel like I was competing with the other contestants. All of us in the house got along so well because we were all so different and that didn't make me feel like we were competing. I felt like excited about the process and the mission to find a song and making it your own. I loved the whole journey as a contestant. Being asked to mentor this year it felt like "oh this is cool – I want to help, anything I can do?!" Yes, I am at the start of my career and not necessarily an established star yet, but I can give them advice on who they are now and simply try to help.
Did you see any of your yourself in this years contestants?
No, not really. Maybe Siobhan because she marches to the beat of her own drum and wants to be different and I can identify with that – she definitely goes for it, which I like – she's ballsy.
No I have to ask you this – are you comfortable with being a gay role model for kids? Or do you feel it's something that's forced upon you because of your Idol success?
That's a great question – it's been an interesting road to navigate and I'm still trying to figure it out. On one hand I'm like "ok I'm a singer – I'm not a babysitter, I'm not a politician and I'm not here to try and show anybody how to do anything". I'm just entertaining people – that's what I do – I'm here to sing. I didn't sign up to be a role model. Sometimes when that's projected onto me I get frustrated. I'm like "don't do what I do, do what you do!" That's what I want to promote – I'm not here to set an example for you to follow, but more so I'm saying "be who you want to be – be free in your own skin, be liberated and feel beautiful and do what you want to do without judgment" – like I do. That's the one part of it that I do enjoy, being visible and being proud of who I am is setting the example. But it's hard because I'm not here to raise anybody's children for them. [laughs]
Totally…I like how you said that…
There is also a bit of pressure from the gay community because there is the projection from them that I am representing us. We don't really have a lot of out artists in mainstream music. But I get frustrated with that as well because as much as I love my gay brothers and sisters, I'm not here to represent anybody but myself. I'm not here to be the face of a movement or sexual preference – I'm just out.
That was sorta leading into my next question. I feel that sometimes gay male pop stars have it a little bit harder because being out is sometimes "frowned upon" – I feel yourself and Lady Gaga are sort of changing that perception – what are your thoughts on that?
Yeah, it's interesting. For me, I'm such an open book and have a hard time keeping secrets and faking things. So it wasn't even a thought of whether I should be out or not. I just am. I didn't think twice about it – it's like "yeah I'm gay, so what". But it is difficult - the reality of the situation though is that it is a business and the record labels and movie studios have a product they are trying to sell and that's the reality. It is art, but at the same time, it's commerce. I think they feel that if you are representing an alternative sexuality, that's gonna turn people off and some people aren't totally comfortable with that yet and it makes the product not as strong or have a wide appeal. That's the resistance, that's the problem, I think that's why artists are reluctant to come out, that's why actors choose to stay in the closet – they want to be able to keep making money – it's a business – it's beyond art.
I actually got into a healthy debate online with people who were hating on Ricky Martin because they said he waited too long to come out and that it didn't matter…what are your thoughts on that?
I really really think that at the end of the day, it's up to the person. It's their decision – it's their prerogative. It has nothing to do with the community. It's a personal choice. I think there is a lot of pressure that certain [long pause] bloggers and what not put on other artists to be open about their sexuality. And really – it's personal. I don't understand why people are so entitled to know what other's sexual preferences are - it seems ridiculous to me.
I totally agree with you 100% there Adam…
It's like in a way it makes it even more sensationalized than it would be otherwise. It puts this added pressure and big flashing lights around the whole subject.
Thank you for being so frank about that – Right now you're a pretty busy and in-demand guy – when you have that rare day off, what do you look forward to?
I like relaxing – yesterday two of my friends (who are also dancing for me in Europe ) we just went to the beach and relaxed! I think it's just enjoying the simple things in life that matters. It's important to chill and not hustle hustle hustle all the time. That's really just healthy and necessary.
I loved it when you were on Oprah and you talked about meeting Madonna – is there any celebrity left that you would like to meet that would really wow you?
David Bowie would be really cool to meet. What he did with Ziggy Stardust – he was just so one of a kind and original and a true artist – I'm inspired by that. He's amazing.
Tell me what we can expect from your UK shows this weekend? I'll be in the front row screaming!
Woo! More choreography and I'm dancing a little bit. I'm so excited to play dress-up for you UK kids.
Awesome, well thank you for your time Adam – I really appreciate you doing this interview – any parting words for our EQ readers?
Thanks for talking to me and thanks for listening and thanks for being queer and thanks for being electric!
Adam strutting his stuff recently at Highline Ballroom in NYC – check out more pics here.