Adam Lambert: The Out Interview, Part Two
By Shana Naomi Krochmal
In early October, Out sat down with Adam Lambert for an hour-long talk about his upcoming album, life inside the American Idol machine, and how carving out a career in the music industry is still easier for him than being in love. (Lambert and then-boyfriend Drake LaBry broke up following that interview, after Out went to press.)
In this second half of our extended interview transcript (to read the first half, head here.), Lambert talks about the responsibility that comes with being a role model -- it doesn't involve being a 'goody two-shoes' -- plus the community of counterculture artists who keep him grounded. He also opens up about fighting codependency in his past relationships and struggling to be a good boyfriend.
Out: Let's talk about Freddie Mercury. There was a moment in the finale when you and Kris were singing Queen, and Brian May looked at you like he was going to start crying.
Adam Lambert: He's really cool. There was some wild energy going on during that performance. And even with Kris up there. Kris was really connecting with me, too.
'We Are the Champions' was a great song choice for the two of you.
It was very cool, and Brian was a sweetheart. Yeah, that felt really good. It felt really like the progression of that -- it's so sad, because Freddie was definitely an idol of mine. His voice, first of all, and his showmanship. Then when you really look at it, he couldn't be who he was publicly. That was one of the things [we considered] when we decided I should just talk about it in Rolling Stone and just get it out of the way. I just don't want to live my life trying to hide anything, or putting up a front. I don't -- I will not do that. Too many people have had to do that in the past. It's just so sad.
I don't think it's very good for your art, to put up a front.
My mentality is, if I lose some fans, fuck it. I need to be happy, too.
Do you feel like you learned how to make a music video from doing camera work with Idol?
Yep. And that's the thing that was so funny. I walked on the set [for the 'Time for Miracles' video] and the production crew were the same people that did those Ford music videos. So it felt really comfortable. We were on the show and we would always be like, 'Ugh, why the hell are we doing another one of these Ford commercials? They're so stupid.' And now I look at it and I think, you know what? That really was good training. Because I felt so comfortable and I probably wouldn't have otherwise. When you do anything in slow motion, they speed up the music and you have to sing with it faster. And we did that for the commercials on Idol. And I think had we not done that, now I would've been like, 'What the fuck?'
In videos for the album, would having a pretty boy love interest be too much?
I don't know yet. I'm gonna kind of play it by ear. But eventually it would be cool to be able to do something like that.
Do people come to you with ideas that are more out there than you would have come up with? Or are you one who's pushing them?
There are definitely creative ideas that come up, but sometimes they're just not right. Sometimes they're out there, but they're corny. Camp and corny are two different things. Camp has to be done just right, or else it isn't right. It has to be like, sophisticated. I love high fashion and theatrics and things that are really conceptual. But if you push that too far then it gets kind of self-indulgent.
That's always the question with Lady Gaga -- how far is too far?
I think she's smart. I predict that she will experiment and change it up a little bit. She's got to show a little crack in the veneer for the audience to really get a three-dimensional view of who she is. I love that she's brave enough to be that eccentric. I think it takes balls to be that out there.
Do you worry about not being brave enough?
No, I don't worry about it. It's more calculated than that: when do you go all the way out and when do you pull it back? It's like how it was on Idol for me. Musically and visually, you have to do both, highs and lows. You have to do [something] crazy and over-the-top and then you have to strip it down and do something sensitive.
I have to say, I didn't really expect to see someone on Idol tour jerking off a mic stand.
You know what was really funny about that -- a woman came up to me in the autograph line and was like, 'This is a family show. You need to make this more appropriate.' And I looked at her and said, 'I don't need a lecture from you.' I kinda smiled and she was like, 'But there's little girls in the audience.' I said to her, 'They probably don't know what I'm doing. You do. They don't know what I'm doing. They just think I'm playing with my mic! They don't know that I'm jerking off. They don't get that yet. Come on! And, if they do, then'sorry.'
They didn't learn it from you.
Hopefully it will facilitate a conversation. And it's not different from what Elvis and Michael Jackson did in their day. Relatively speaking.
Tell me about working with Linda Perry.
She's great. I remember she said to me at one point, 'Its funny, I've never worked with a gay guy before.' She keeps it real, and she also has a ton of artistic integrity. It's not commercial with her. She doesn't want it to be what everybody else is doing. She loves thing that are different and out of the box.
Do you feel like there is more room for you in a rock genre?
Yes and no. Because, yes, I can sing a rock song. I love rock music. I love drums. I love the sound of a guitar. I love thinking this track is going to be played at a bar where people are drinking and having a good time and wanting to feel sexy. That's what this song is for, to make you feel hot. It's not deep, necessarily. But sometimes you should just have fun.