More about: Queen and Adam Lambert
Having played to over 300,000 people in the past year when touring with Queen, Adam Lambert has faced significantly tougher crowds than a select group of journalists at a playback in West London.
What's impressive is how charming he is: dealing with the familiar questions and dancing around the trickier topics with ease. To mark the release of The Original High this month, Lambert talked about the realities of joining Queen on their private jet, being an 'adult entertainer' and why The Original High is the best thing he's ever recorded.
Adam Lambert on...
His friendship with Brian May and Roger Taylor:
"Brian's a breeze. He's so sweet and thoughtful. When we're trying to make a decision he doesn't react: he stops, thinks about it for a second. He's very thoughtful. Roger too. They are definitely like family now it feels very comfortable. It's cool. I definitely asked them a lot about stories and Queen folklore.
We all get along really well. Roger and I have a lot in common when it comes to lifestyle. We both like nice things, nice clothes, parties, nice things to drink. We bonded over tattoos. But Brian will let his hair down - literally. We would do a gig, then we would get on the plane - I'm not used to flying private jet for my work. I was very spoilt by this.
Then we would open a bottle of something eat dinner and talk about the show that night and laugh. We had our bonding moments. There were a lot of discussions about issues and half of what they were talking about was very based on UK politics so I would just listen and learn. They're both really smart. It was nice to be around really intelligent well travelled men. Without directly giving advice they showed me to think big picture and not worry about little small things as much. To really make sure I'm enjoying it as it's happening, as life is short."
The wildest night he had on the Queen tour
"We were in Amsterdam for my birthday. That got a little rowdy. We found a club there and we had a room of our own: it was very Dutch. Was anyyone throwing up? No, they're classy: these are rock stars. They like to have a good time but they know how it's done. No sloppiness."
Whether Queen would visit gay clubs when on tour - and what Freddie would make of Adam
"I think I will say if we had been somewhere where the only option was a gay club I think they would have been game. Obviously they knew Freddie and they worked with Freddie and it wasn't an issue for them at all [about] his lifestyle and his choice. They've told me a lot of stories about him and it sounds like he was a lot of fun. I don't think I know it it was anything shocking but it's more an idea of getting a sense of his personality and they said to me. "You guys would get along very well. Your senses of humour are very similar. You'd get a kick out of each other."
On how fronting Queen helped inspire his confidence
"I was in a little bit of a rut before all of that started. I was ready for the next thing but wasn't sure how it was going to come about. Being on stage with Queen in front of an audience that loves the band that much and loves the songs was really rewarding. It definitely gave me a nice kick of confidence. It was a good challenge. I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. I wasn't sure how it was going to be received. Every night felt like I had to prove myself. Most of the audience was on board from the get go but there were skeptics out there, sitting with their arms crossed. By the third or fourth song they'd be like fist pumping. It was a challenge every night which was good for my spirit."
How he had to get used to the highs and lows of playing with Queen
"As an artist and personally I'm never quite satisfied. I feel like I'm always hungry for the next experience. I wonder: I ask myself the question 'When is it enough? When will I be satisfied with everything?" It's something you've got to remind yourself to be thankful along the way. It's definitely easy not to be. The highs I do experience - being on stage at the sold out O2 is like 'GAH! OHMYGODITSFUCKINGAWESOME' And then to come down and go to bed by myself that night. I've just had this crazy high and now I have to bring it back down and fall asleep alone in bed. Extremes, for sure."
His thoughts on The Original High
"The album turned out really fucking good I think. I'm really proud of it. I feel like it's my best album that I've done. Vocally it shows the most range and different tones and colours. I think we've nailed these concepts. The songs are totally personal and things that I've been through in my real life but I feel like we've found ways for me to connect with the public - because they are things everyone goes through. Very universal but done in a specific way.
I think the big running theme throughout the album is the pursuit of happiness. Some of my previous work and my life in my early twenties was like most people, trying to figure out who I was and a search for identity. Now that that's pretty much established I feel like the next chapter in my life is figuring out what works for me, what makes me happy and what I want out of life. I think that's what most people want: that's the natural progression. That thing that makes you feel high: whatever that is for you. Some people it's love, some people want adventure, they want adrenalin, some people want sex, some people want parties, some want power, wealth. I think you get to a point in your life when you start figuring what works for you and what doesn't.
Each song on the album looks at a different part of that journey: and the album never really claims to have all the answers because I certainly do not. I'm still learning. I'm still figuring it out. It's about this journey and longing and desire. Conclusions? I still don't fucking know."
How 'Ghost Town' shows a different side to Adam
"I have my moods and my ruts that I get in. And I wanted to write about those ruts. The times where I felt a little big lost. And that's where "Ghost Town" the single where that comes from. In searching for the thing that makes you feel good and alive if you get to a point where the thing is either taken away for you or a thing breaks up with you or the thing leaves you really hungover. It's that feeling of being empty and kinda lost. In greater terms you have to stop and revaluate your beliefs and think what those things are.... I don't have the answers. One of the things that makes us all happy is love. Everybody wants love and everyone wants to be loved back. It's not that dry obviously it can be tricky relationships. Everyone wants their heart taken care of."
On his personal life
"I've been single for more than two years. Some parts of it are fun. I think I'm getting to a point now where I'm thinking 'Yeah I could fall in love again. That would be nice. I want that deeper heart connection but I'm travelling a lot. It's very difficult. I'm dating my album actually. We're in a monogamous situation. Would I try online dating? That's a little scary. I have no judgement against it. I have friends who have met online that are together for years. I have really bad game to be honest with you. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a social situation like a dinner or a party I've met somebody who I think is cute. I'm pretty outgoing when I'm speaking to a room full of people about my music or I'm on stage. But if I think someone's attractive I get a little bit shy. So I won't say anything but just be like 'Ahem' [nods]. Or I'll say something and just be very friendly. I don't make it obvious that I'm into them. So my game is wack. I'm working on it."
Madonna also releasing a song called 'Ghost Town'
"That was fun! I was in Mexico on a little four day vacation. I opened my laptop and saw her tracklisting had come out. I thought 'What? How on earth does she also have a song called Ghost Town. What are the chances? We'd already picked the song as the first single. It was already mixed and ready to go. I asked some questions: how does everyone feel about this? We talked about it. I hadn't heard the song yet but I didn't feel an outside event should be changing my plan. I just stuck to my plan and my instincts on this should be the first song from my album. Then when I heard the song - which is a great song - they are so different it really ellivated my concerns. I've not heard from Team Madonna but I'm a fan. The only thing I was concerned about was that people would think I was coming for her. It's not like that at all. I did not want a fan war. That was the last thing I wanted."
Whether he still stood by his quote: "I'm an entertainer, not a babysitter" and whether he was prepared to become an "adult entertainer"
"Adult entertainer? i'm not interested in that field. [Laughs] I don't run a daycare centre. I'm not a babysitter. I think that came out six years ago: I was responding to a specific thing that I was getting some heat for some choices I made on stage. Looking back I don't have any regrets at all but I also learned a lot about how I can relate to the public and what works and what doesn't work as well. I'm in a different space now. This album has darker themes on it and deals with real life stuff you experience in adulthood yes. But I also think it's not irresponsible in its storytelling. I don't think it would put any wrong ideas in any kids head."
Going beyond camp on his new record
"What I've done in the past and my image - even with doing a lot of the Queen stuff I was doing - a lot of very theatrical, flamboyant, stylised and over the top. And it's been fun. It's great to make people smile with that kind of music. But I felt like I had done a good amount of that camp angle. It was just time to try something new, strip that back and be real. Not be a character, not be a persona but be an actual person who goes to the same things you do and lives a real life. I think sonically the album sounds more like real life than what I've done in the past. This is the kind of music I listen to when I'm going out, going in the car or running on the treadmill."
Whether he's now more comfortable within himself
"I think so. The Pop Idol thing happened so fast that you're like 'Woah!' The whole idea of what a celebrity is when you're not used to that. There's a lot that comes with that that's strange. It's exciting and it means I have a platform where I can do what I want now on a grander scale. But it throws your personal life into a bit of a tailspin. It's been six years since that and I'm now finally at a place where I'm like OK I'm comfortable I know who I am. I'm comfortable with the opportunities I've been given, the fame thing. The ups and downs of the entertainment industry. When I first started six years ago I thought 'This is going to be easy." No. I think I'm just more comfortable. Like anyone growing up I don't feel the need now to please everybody as much as I used to. I think that's what your Thirties are about. I feel less is more."
How America (and the music industry) has become more accepting of gay people
"It is a different world, especially in America. Here it's always been a little more forward. In the States we're catching up. I think the powers that be, the people that were running the industry started realising it doesn't matter to the people buying music. They're more open than they thought they were! And that's really nice to see. I like that's it's moving towards a place which is 'post gay mentality' - where it doesn't have to be the thing that defines you, it can just be one of the facts and details about you as an artist. I don't really think it makes any sense to be called 'Gay artist Adam lambert' because what I'm singing about is for gay people, straight people, black people, white people: it's not specific."
The best rumour he's ever heard about himself:
"I read I was dead once. It was like 'Oh really? I think I'm alright.' It was on Twitter. I think my Mom said 'Are you dead?' My heart's a ghost town but I'm not dead."
The Original High is out 15 June.
Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.
More about: Queen and Adam Lambert