Checking in with Adam Lambert | Washington Blade
1215 U St., N.W.
Saturday, March 5
Doors: 6:30 p.m.
Flashy. Theatrical. Glam rocker. These are just a few of the descriptions people placed on Adam Lambert in 2007, when he became something of a household name appearing on the eighth season of “American Idol,” finishing as runner-up to Kris Allen.
In the seven years since, Lambert has released three acclaimed albums, and sold about 2.5 million records and more than 5 million singles worldwide. He’s also served as lead singer for Queen the past few years and did a stint on “Glee,” combining his acting and musical chops.
Lambert’s latest release, “The Original High,” debuted at no. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and the artist is currently on tour to support the album, stopping at the Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, March 5.
The singer has never been shy about his sexual orientation, and has long been active in LGBT rights. Recently, Lambert took time to talk with the Blade about his music, sexual orientation and what it’s like to replace a legend.
WASHINGTON BLADE: What can those coming out to the Lincoln Theatre on March 5 expect from you that night? What defines an Adam Lambert concert?
ADAM LAMBERT: This show is definitely kind of a product of my evolution. I’m exploring new ideas and new sounds. It’s been seven years since “Idol” and I’ve definitely grown up a bit. I approach things in different ways now and have learned a lot about my fans and myself as an artist, and musically, I’ve grown and broadened my palate, so to speak.
BLADE: Looking at your latest recording, “The Original High,” what inspired your songwriting?
LAMBERT: With this third album, which I feel is my strongest so far, I sort of have found a song for everything that I want to talk about. Some of the songs on this album are reflections of where I think we are at as a society, both good and bad. The lead single, “Ghost Town” is sort of saying, “Hey, we’re all sitting here trying to figure out who and what we want to be but it’s difficult.” The way in which we communicate has become sort of disconnected and disenchanted and sometimes I am left with that feeling of hopelessness of numbness for a period of time. But then again, we set that song to a crazy, sexy house beat and it makes you want to dance, and maybe that’s part of the medicine we should be looking for — getting together and dancing.
BLADE: You just turned 34, pretty much at the edge of being a Millennial, which probably helps you appeal to generations young and old. Do you think about how to appeal to different generations when coming up with new music and designing your show?
LAMBERT: I don’t think it’s that premeditated. I have a very diverse circle of friends as far as age goes and background. I think the people who I know inspire me a lot and kind of inform what I do. I have thought about it at times. If you’re 22, this is where you’re at in life, vs. what are the 37-year-olds feeling? It’s a part of it.
BLADE: When you first started in the business, were there boxes you wanted to check off? If so, what boxes remain unchecked?
LAMBERT: You can’t really control it. I sort of take it one day at a time. I got my sales up and I’m on the ride. I have an amazing team of people I work with. There are definitely things I want to try — some more acting opportunities would be cool — and I want to keep putting out music. I love the idea of putting out a song that connects with people worldwide.
BLADE: Speaking of acting, you’re slated to appear as Eddie in Fox’s upcoming revival of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” this fall.
LAMBERT: I love it. I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing production. They’ve been doing these musicals on TV, but this is the first one that’s going to be filmed, it’s not a live presentation. It will have a lot of integrity to the original because they have Lou Adler on board (the original producer) and his son is producing the music. Kenny Ortega (the director) is no stranger to musicals on film and the cast they put together, I am honored to be a part of. I’m very excited.
BLADE: I know David Bowie was a big influence on you and your music and it was a sad loss for the music industry when he passed away. Tell me a little about what he meant to you.
LAMBERT: He was ahead of his time and not afraid to be an outsider and push ideas that weren’t necessarily popular, and I love that. I think he was willing to be weird, which I also admire. Sonically, physically, I think he was an icon. David Bowie’s voice sounds like no one else, he looks like no one else. He was one of a kind.
BLADE: Is that what you set out to do? How would you define your philosophy of who you want Adam Lambert to be?
LAMBERT: It’s interesting, because if you look at (Bowie’s) career over 30 years, what he did was reinvented and evolved and as an artist, it looks like he was trying on new colors when he felt like it. I am inspired by that. In today’s media and music world, it’s very easy to become a brand and to get trapped in that brand. I think it’s exciting to be creative and explore new sounds and new looks and new colors and new ideas, and that’s what I want to continue to do — keep it fresh and continue to evolve.
BLADE: One of the things that impressed me about you is you’re not defined by your sexuality, you’re just you. Has this come easier to you as the years go by?
LAMBERT: Yeah. I think society is coming around as years go by. Seven years ago is not that long ago, but things were in a much different place. The exciting thing about being out in today’s entertainment world is that it’s less of a surprise, less of an issue and no longer a scary, unknown thing for the public. Acceptance, tolerance and visibility have made their way into the arts — as they always should have — and things are better now, focused on what they should be focused on, which is the arts themselves.
BLADE: You’ve done a great deal for the LGBT community, and I know it’s something that remains important to you.
LAMBERT: Of course. I spent years in L.A. going to gay bars and gay clubs, and that’s where I socialized and listened to music, and that’s where I fell in love with dance music. That’s part of my culture. Obviously, I have had a lot of other opportunities that mixed me with other types of people as well. I like the idea of saying, “Let’s not segregate ourselves, let’s throw it all together.” My involvement with the theater was great for that because you have every race and religion and gender — that’s the utopian fantasy I’ve always had.
BLADE: You’ve been performing with Queen for the past few years, which you’ve said is something of a dream for you.
LAMBERT: It’s been incredible and I’m still doing more with them this summer. It’s such an honor to sing lead for one of the greatest rock bands of all time, although it’s intimidating to be compared to Freddie Mercury because I think he was amazing. I don’t think I can in any way compete with him, but for me it’s not about that. It’s about bringing these songs to life for fans of the music and the band and help everyone remember what made the band so great in the first place. These songs have been a part of people’s lives for years and years, so getting to perform those songs, the collective joy you feel in the audience, there’s something very rewarding about that.
BLADE: Any last message for those coming out to the concert?
LAMBERT: Come and be prepared to go on a roller coaster with me. There are some songs from the last two albums as well and for fans of this new album, I’m finally getting to present them. It’s going to be a great time.