Interview: Adam Lambert on 'Trespassing,' fierceness, and a memorable fan
On May 15, Adam Lambert’s second post- “American Idol” comes out. “Trespassing” is an extremely ambitious song cycle that takes the listener though life’s highs and lows. For Lambert’s fans, it come as no surprise that he holds nothing back whether he’s leading the party or in the depths of despair, aching to be understood.
Lambert talked to Hitfix about creating the follow up to 2009’s platinum “For Your Entertainment” and how, even though he makes it look easy, sometimes he struggles to be “fierce.” Read his comments about fellow "American Idol" contestant Kris Allen's new single here.
It feels like you really swung for the fences on “Trespassing.” It’s a very ambitious effort.
That’s true. This is true. This is my sophomore album, this is a big deal. The first album, which I’m very proud of, was something that we did so quickly, so I took my time on this one and I think it paid off. I really got the chance to explore a lot of different sounds and concepts. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist and a writer so I think the album reflects that.
Was it always your intent to take us on a journey that is light in some parts and very dark in others?
I think that, as people we all have our ups and downs. We got through our tough times and our celebrations and I think we kind of covered both and I think ultimately in my life, I’ve found that there have been times when I’ve had to muster up a certain amount of fierceness and pride and confidence and swagger and some of that is self-created. We put that on, we project that out into the universe to appear a certain way and to live our lives to the fullest. It is kind of like peacocking in a way: it’s a way of showing your feathers to the world. The album talks about the game face and what lies beneath that.
You co-wrote 12 of the 15 tracks on “Trespassing.” How important was it to have your voice in the songs?
I think it was really important. My fans have been so loyal and supportive; I wanted to give them something that I really put myself into and, just for me, creatively, going forward between music videos and performances and a tour eventually, I wanted to put this up there that it was me.
The first album’s first single, “Better Than I Know,” myself did very well in certain parts of the world and not as well in others, including the U.S. Hot 100 chart. Was that scary for you?
Scary was not the world. That’s the music business: it’s not predictable, there’s no way to kind of know how things are going to do. I think it’s a really beautiful song. It’s great where it comes on the album... I think it actually pretty well on the Hot AC chart on the radio and it got noticed and people liked it and we did a great video for it... It’s a good song and its position on the chart doesn’t take anything away from that. It’s hard too because I’m so associated with a show like “Idol,” there’s such a competitive element to who I am as an artist and that’s kind of American in general. What place did you get? Did it win? Did you compete well and that’s really not what music is. Of course as an artist you’d love to have a hit song, that would be great, but the first priority is is the song good and does it make you feel something and I think it definitely accomplishes that.
From the start, you seemed to develop a very intimate, close relationship with your fans.
Is there an interaction with a fan that’s stuck with you?
I can identify a handful of them that have....I got a letter during “Idol,” it was a from a woman who lived in Utah and she was basically saying to me, “I thought that the gay lifestyle was wrong, I thought it was evil. What I realized after being a fan of you and you coming out was that I actually didn’t really know any gay people, so it was an ignorant thing for me to say and believe.” So she said she met somebody somewhere, through a co-worker or something, and they had been randomly getting coffee from time to time because she wanted to learn more about that and I thought, “Wow, that’s a great thing to inspire to open their mind up a little bit and go out and seek some information and understand something for themselves,” because I think a lot of the most negative social things that happen in our country are a result of ignorance, a result of people just not knowing any better. I really respected that and was touched that she said I was inspired to do that because of you.
Speaking of, since the minute you stepped on the “American Idol,” stage you’ve been in the spotlight. As your fame has increased, has it gotten harder to escape the glare and the distractions that come with that?
No, I actually think it’s gotten easier. In the beginning, it was a little bit jarring. I wasn’t 100% always ready for it. When I got onstage, I was ready for it, but the offstage part of it, I was always kind of thrown off by. I think that was one of the things that being on tour helped me figure out. It helped me adjust and it helped me get back to what I was really doing. Touring is really amazing because you’re on stage doing your art every night, but you’re not in the celebrity spotlight the same way you are when you’re in Los Angeles and New York and you’re going to events so it kind of grounded me a bit.
You have embraced being a role model, not just as a gay icon, but for anyone who’s felt like a misfit at any time in their life, just as Lady Gaga has. Is that comfortable for you?
I think i grew up that way. I grew up kind of the weird kid. There were times, especially during adolescence where I felt like the odd man out. “Where do I fit? What’s going on?” And it was performing and music and art that was the thing that gave me that feeling of belonging and I want to be able to turn that around and give that back.