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Lambert: All we want is love
Given he’s been compared to the late, great Freddie Mercury ever since his initial audition for American Idol way back in 2008 (singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, no less) it seems fitting Adam Lambert’s now juggling his successful solo career with an occasional sideline gig as frontman for the band.
When the Star Observer spoke to him in London, he was still on a high from the previous night’s gig with Queen in Kiev, performing to his largest-ever audience of a quarter of a million people.
“An important part of the process has been trying to figure out how to make these shows my own without straying too far from the original. I’m paying my respects and doing it tastefully,” Lambert said.
“People ask me if it’s more pressure to do my own music or this, but they’re very different. In the Queen audience you’ve got die-hard fans who aren’t necessarily fans of mine, so there’s a certain amount of expectation there, but I’m singing songs that are tried and true and that people already love.
“When it’s my own show, it’s almost the opposite – I’m performing to my own fans, but singing new music that’s just getting its feet wet.”
He’ll be doing just that, performing tracks from his sophomore album Trespassing, during next month’s Australian promo tour. Contrast the pomp and bombast of performing with Queen in Kiev with the only show Lambert’s got lined up for his visit: an exclusive showcase for 300 fans at Sydney’s Standard Hotel.
“Trespassing has its big, over-the-top moments, but it also has really grounded moments. And we can perform all the songs either way – the songs work with or without all the bells and whistles,” he said.
While his 2009 debut album For Your Entertainment was an admirably strong first effort for a talent show alumnus, it was still something of a slapdash affair, evidenced by the fact that many of the highlights were actually offcuts from other pop stars’ vaults (Whataya Want From Me and Fever started life as demos for Pink and Lady Gaga respectively).
Second time around, Lambert’s co-written almost every song, working with songwriters and musicians as diverse as Pharrell Williams, Sam Sparro and Nile Rodgers to craft an album of largely upbeat dance-pop.
“I think the element of time was the real difference in making this album. I had a lot of time to experiment in the studio and record a lot of different styles of music. Then having the songs produced in a way that makes them all fit together is another big element,” he said.
As the album progresses, though, the sleazy electro of the opening half gives way to a more contemplative mood, finishing with emotional ballad Outlaws of Love.
As Lambert’s now in a committed relationship with Finnish reality TV personality Sauli Koskinen, he’s penned a song about alienation some same-sex couples can feel
“I spent many years as a bachelor, and I enjoyed that time – enjoyed it a lot,” he chuckled.
“But at the end of the day, I started feeling like I wanted more. There were many years spent being lonely and craving that. Finally finding it is this amazing feeling – I’ve found someone I love and have a solid relationship with, and there are songs on Trespassing that talk about the joy and celebration of that.
“But at the end of the album we get to Outlaws of Love, and it’s like, I’ve figured all this other stuff out and made peace with myself, I have a partner, but as we look out into society, what are we faced with? It’s us versus the world. All we want is light and love and we’re being persecuted for it. It’s a sad feeling.”
The good news is that Lambert’s status as an out pop star hasn’t appeared to harm his career. Trespassing shot straight to the top of the US charts upon release, making him the first openly gay artist in history with a number one debut on the Billboard album charts.
“It is a landmark, and it’s one that I didn’t know hadn’t been reached before. Hopefully it’s a statement that the record companies will hear loud and clear, and stop worrying about commercial viability for an out artist. Clearly it works and it’s possible.”
INFO: Trespassing out now. Adam Lambert, Take 40 Live Lounge, The Standard Hotel, August 22.