Adam Lambert is a modern-day polymath. After being jet-propelled to pop superstardom almost a decade ago, Lambert has not stopped transforming the music scene — all the while advocating for social justice. Hailing from the West Coast, where he still resides, his early ventures into musicals and a successful run at American Idol trained him for his ascension to global success. Since then, he has inscribed his mark in music history, both as a solo act with three majorly successful albums and in alliance with iconic British band Queen. Just days short of his rather nostalgic NBC Wicked performance — he used to be part of the Hollywood musical — we catch up with Lambert to discuss his forthcoming fourth album, full circle experiences, hiatuses and the power of politics.
You’ve just finished your residency with Queen in Las Vegas, not too long ago. How was it?
It was great! It was really exciting to do a residency because we’ve done only tours, so to play in the same venue for ten shows was interesting. It was different for us. It was very relaxing, the accommodation was amazing, and Vegas was… well, it’s still Vegas, but the set-up they had made us feel like we were on vacation. I had a good time and a lot of friends and family came and visit, which was really nice too.
That’s good. Ten shows over three weeks must be challenging. How do you find that? Because you mentioned touring is quite different… Do you think that touring is better necessarily?
It was actually easier than a tour. Ten shows in three weeks is actually a really light schedule, so, to be honest, we had a lot of days off. When we did our first world tour, for example, I’d guess that was probably something like 17, 18 maybe 20 shows in three weeks.
So do you prefer the residency?
I don’t think I can say I prefer it – it was just different. There was something very thrilling about being on tour as well because you’re always moving around. So it stays fresh. But, I really liked it as a change. It was a smaller room, so it was nice to play for a slightly more intimate crowd.
Having a rather intimate crowd must be nice… You’ve been performing with Queen for almost a decade now, how do you balance being a solo act and playing with them? Do you feel like you will ever stop or would you keep both sides alive?
I don’t know… I wish I had a crystal ball! [laughs] I don’t know what the future holds. I’m working on an album right now, and I’ve never felt like working with Queen has put any sort of a damper on my solo work. I don’t feel as though we can compete with each other. I think that actually, they have coexisted very well, timing wise. The collaboration with Queen is little chunks of time that I go on the road with them, and then I’m done so it’s left me plenty of time to sort of flip-flop into my solo career. I realise it’s been about three years since my last album, but I don’t think the delays really have anything to do with being on tour with them. They’re more business delays and me taking my time creatively. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do for a minute, as far as my solo career. Now, I’ve explored some new sounds and some new concepts and I’m on the course to put something out, but it took a second to discover that for myself, for this project.
Why do you feel that was? What happened to you at that time, when you didn’t know what to do creatively?
I don’t know. I don’t think it was anything specific that happened. I was just waiting to catch a certain inspiration, you know what I mean? I was really digging, trying to find some authenticity. The most authentic sound and style that I could. I think from the outside looking in, I think the fans, for example, may just think “oh, you’ve done this album and now you can just pop another one out, you know… do it” [laughs] But those of us who are actually making the albums, know it’s not as simple as that. There is the creative process. You can’t really put a time stamp on it and just demand it to happen. And the business side of things is also equally as layered and complex. I think, between the two of those sides of putting out an album, it’s been an interesting journey. But I’m excited because I feel the light is at the end of the tunnel now. [laughs].
So are you almost done with the album? Or are you still working on it?
I’m still working on it, but I’m definitely getting there. There are some incredible songs that I’m really proud of and I can’t wait to share them with the world.
Are you going to be releasing it by the end of the year?
I have no idea. I’m doing my best to put it out as soon as possible.
That’s good. On top of the album and the Queen residency, you’ve also been announced as the villain in the Playmobil movie. How has that experience been? Is it your first acting gig, even if it’s voice acting?
It’s my first voiceover gig, for an animated anything. It’s really exciting. I’ve never done that before and I’ve always wanted to do it. It’s fun because it’s a musical role. This character has a song and he’s a villain, but he’s also sort of a clown. He’s funny, he’s crazy but he’s also super obnoxious, immature and power hungry… sort of a dictator.
Familiar! Yes, definitely some shades of social commentary in that. But it’s a great character, it was really fun to play. It was so nuts that I lost my voice after the first day, just because he’s just so insane.
Your vocal range into voice acting must be amazing…
Yeah, it’s great. The song is very theatrical, so it matches this character. It’s ridiculous.
You previously said that the new album will tap into that sound of your first album, For Your Entertainment. Can you explain a bit why you feel this is a full circle experience?
I think the reason I said it would be a reference to my first album was because there [are] a lot of reference to Glam-Rock and Classic Rock of the ‘70s and the early ‘80s. I’ve gone back to a lot of those inspirations. I feel there’s also some parallel to my second album [Trespassing]. I mean it’s a general statement to make because obviously, it’s more than one song, but I think fans will draw some comparisons.
So you don’t feel like it would relate to the third,The Original High, which is the most recent?
Actually, no. I think it’s more of a departure from the last album. I really love my third album, The Original High. It was really a labour of love and it’s something I feel really proud of. I feel like this new project kind of leans into more organic and timeless sonic elements. If that makes sense.
So did you do this on purpose?
It’s coming back to the music that inspired me to want to become a musician in the first place.
Interesting. So it’s like a journey into what made you want to pursue music in the first place.
Yeah, it’s less focused on being trendy and more focused on being timeless. I mean I’ve always been me, I don’t feel like any of the work I’ve done hasn’t been me, but it just has a timelessness that I think is really exciting.
So how is it working on it? Can you give us an insight into your creative process?
It’s all been really positive. There’s no frustration. When you get in the studio with writers and producers, you get in and it’s all sort of an experiment in a way. You get together, and the collective energy is going to produce something. Personally, I’ve always really preferred working in a small team, as opposed to on my own. I find that I bring certain skills and sensibilities to the table and I like when that combines with other people’s skills and sensibilities. I think working in a team tends to produce the strongest material for me. You get in the room and you never know what you’re gonna get. So in a way, the whole process is very trial and error. It’s supposed to be entertainment, so it really needs to connect with people.
If you want to make it timeless, I think that would be a challenge. Can you give us an insight into what themes you’ll touch?
I think there are some general ideas of resilience in the theme. There’s a theme of sort of being in your power. And if you’re not in it, kind of taking it back. Definitely plenty of longing… there’s a sense of longing in searching for intimacy. The search for intimacy and the elusiveness of it.
It sounds really personal…
It is, it is really personal. I feel really good about it. I feel it’s not the type of album that I just pumped out to be catchy. I tried to exercise the utmost integrity that I could.
That’s great. I think that defines you as an artist, all around. You speak very openly about the LGBTQ+ community and your own sexuality. It is a really tough time for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in the US. What advice would you give to those affected by these policies?
I think the biggest enemy of the LGBTQ+ community right now is indifference. It’s people just feeling like victims, and then just sitting around and taking it. That’s the problem. What’s so exciting right now is that so many people are mobilising and encouraging people to step up. We have to get involved politically. I think a lot of liberals and younger people have felt for a very long time that their voice doesn’t count and that they can’t affect change and there’s this underlying sense of hopelessness, unfortunately. We’ve seen that prior to the current political climate, we did affect a lot of change. There was a lot of progress made. I think now more than ever, we’re reaching a point where everybody has to get involved or else it’s not gonna work out. People just need to wake up a bit and educate themselves. Honestly, I have not been a very political person until recently. But I’m realising, as with so many of my friends, and peers, that it’s time to get involved. I definitely feel inspired and motivated to do that and to try to encourage people to do that as well.
But you’ve been very vocal about social justice before. Do you feel like there’s a blurring of the lines now between social justice and politics?
100%. I’m realising now is that what’s necessary to keep pushing things forward is that one has to get politically involved because there are basic civil rights that are being questioned. The trans community just recently received a terrible blow with the Trump administration basically saying trans people do not exist. It’s just fundamentally ridiculous. It’s like saying climate change doesn’t exist, it’s bullshit. So we just need to get involved.
What’s really unfortunate is it feels like we’re going backwards. In the Obama administration, we moved forward so beautifully. There was so much wonderful pouring of emotion in terms of recognising and validating all these different lifestyles. I hope that people around the world realise some of the political moves that the country is making in no way reflects the majority of the people in it. With all that being said, it is really inspiring to see how passionate people are getting and how involved people are getting. It’s really inspiring to see how people are stepping up.
There’s a silver lining to everything, I guess… to end on a lighter note, after you release all this new music, do you have any more plans? Are you planning on going on tour on your own?
I’d definitely like to. There’re no plans that are set yet. We’re not there yet. It’s funny, I think when I answer fan questions online, there are plenty of questions like “when I this happening?” And well, I can’t control everything, as much as I’d like to [laughs]. There are a lot of different pieces that are needed for all of this to come together. Some of them are artistic, some of them are business, and some of them are completely out of my hands. I’m trying. I’m working hard daily to sort of push this thing into a starting position. And I’m lucky to have an amazing team, and they’re helping too… we’re trying! [laughs].
Good things take time, so I think this will be well worth the wait.
Yes, it would be possible to put something out there just for the sake of it. But to do it the right way, it’s all boring stuff that I’m sure the fans don’t care about but it’s just part of the gig…