Adam Lambert - 'I'm Not Trying To Outdo Freddie Mercury'
When it was announced this week that former American Idol runner-up turned electro-glam peacock Adam Lambert would be fronting Queen at Sonisphere, the response was… fairly approving actually. Lambert has already proven himself as quite the able rock star, his pipes are undeniably impressive, and to be fair to him, he certainly embodies some of Freddie Mercury’s theatrical spirit.
And anyone who saw their trial run at the MTV EMAs last year will be able to testify that they pretty much pulled it off. If Queen really are going to continue in some form, there could be an awful lot worse choices. We caught up with Adam as the news broke, to see how he’s fitting into Freddie’s tight pants. He will not, he assures us, be growing a moustache...
So you are the new singer in Queen!
“Finally the cat’s out of the bag!"
You’ve played with them before, but how does it feel to be doing a full set?
“It’s a bigger undertaking for sure. I’m going tio learn a lot more music, rehearse with the band a little longer, but I’m excited! I’m excited to get in there and figure out what the setlist is. It’s gonna be a lot of work but it’s gonna be fucking great. I’m so excited!”
You’re standing in for possibly the greatest frontman ever…
“Yeah but you know, the way I look at it is I’m not trying too imitate him or outdo him or compete in any way, that’s not even in my mind at all, I think its really an honour to be asked to sing the music that the and the ban wrote and get up there and put on a good show. If people are too busy trying to compare they’re not going to enjoy the music.”
How are you psyching up?
“I haven’t gotten there yet. When we start crouching up to it a little bi more I’m gonna start feeling the pressure but I’m definietly starting to have the Queen playlist on repeat on my iPod for sure.”
What songs do you want to sing? And which ones don’t you?
“We really haven’t gotten there yet, I just was emailing Brian a week or two ago and I was asking him, ‘What’s the setlist gonna be?’ It’s gonna be a team decision, obviously Brian and Roger are the boss, so whatever they wanna do I’m up for, I’m just happy to be there.”
That’s no answer! Which are your favourites?
“I’m really excited to perform ‘Another One Bites The Dust, that’s one of my favourites. I’m interested to see if we’ll be doing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and whatever capacity it is, it’s quite a vocal undertaking with all the parts, so I don’t know if they’re gonna be other vocalists onstage or what. That’ll be pretty intense, to see how we approach that one.”
How did they tackle that before, I wonder?
“I think the guys sang back up obviously the recorded the backgrounds in the studio, they multi-tracked everything so much that I wonder if they’re gonna consider bringing in background singers to give it the kind of energy that the record has. I don’t know, I’m just excited to get to fly to the UK and rehearse with Queen.”
How did the conversations leading up to this go?
“When we did the EMAs it was just a lovely experience, it was smooth as silk, I walked in, we did an afternoon rehearsal, pretty much nailed it and felt really good about it, did a soundcheck the next day and then it was the EMAs. We were talking after and I said, ‘You know, anytime you guys have anything, I’d love to sing with you again, and it felt mutual, I think the seed was planted there.”
Did you need any persuasion or were you like, ‘you had me at Hello’?
“The minute the offer was extended I jumped at the chance. But one of the things that was said was, ‘He’s gonna be the permanent frontman of Queen'. And although that would be a beautiful experience, the tricky thing this year for me is I also have my album coming out, ‘Trespassing’, and that’s gonna take a lot of work and time and energy. So it’s really a one-off experience with the band, and I’m really excited for it. But I’m not joining the band and touring with them.”
Are you familiar with the British heavy metal scene? Even Queen is quite an out there booking for Sonisphere
“Well Kiss is the other headliner, and Faith No More. I think they’re doing a nostalgic classic rock look for the festival and I think that’s fantastic. Hey, I sang a Metallica song on my tour two years ago in New Zealand. I did ‘Enter Sandman’, it was really fun. But I think it’s funny the way genre is trapped on to certain artists and it’s treated like some boundary that you can’t cross or redefine and it’s kind of silly."
Are you familiar with bottling?
“No, I apologise, I’m not that familiar with the festival.”
It’s when metal fans don’t like you and they throw bottles filled with urine at the stage.
And they shout ‘You Fat Bastard’Oh great! Well I’ll be sure to wear something that protects my helmet. I wear a helmet on stage, maybe that would be a good fashion statement.
“Well it’s possible! Heheh, the way I look at is I want to get up there to sing great sings for people who want to hear them. I deal with a lot of pressure here with my career in the States on Idol there was a lot of pressure and now with my second album, I’m used to pressure so at this point I’m going to focus on the positive reactions and ignore the negative ones.”
What do you say to people who reckon the Queen legacy should be left alone?
“That’s really up to Brian and Roger, it’s their band. I think that at this point the feel what they’re doing is appropriate and it's their prerogative. If someone feels like their legacy should be left alone then they're missing out on a great concert, that’s the bottom line, the guys write great music and they’re playing it for fans that still wanna hear it. It’s their band! It’s their business.”
Can you really call this Queen without John Deacon involved?
“Again that’s not my place to say, that’s Mr Deacon’s business, it’s not mine. Of course having the original bass player there would be amazing, don’t get me wrong , but that’s just not the situation. I don’t mean to sound defensive and I totally understand and respect that opinion. But that’s no fun!”
Do you think it can ever work as well with a new singer?
“It’s just different. Nothing is gonna beat the original, no-one’s ever going to be better than Freddie Mercury, never. But I don’t think that’s the point, I don’t think it’s a competition, it’s about music and it's about making people feel something, it’s not about beating out the original.”
How are you going to channel Freddie? Are you studying the DVDs?
“I’m definitely listening to the vocal parts and I have been doing research, I’ve been watching things, but it’s very important for me as an artist for my own integrity to make sure I’m being myself onstage. I have no intention of mimicking or copying or… I feel like that would be insulting to the fans and to the band to get up there and try to copy Mr Mercury. It’s a very delicate situation and I wanna treat it with with the utmost respect. For me it’s about trying to understand his initial intention vocally and musically, and pay respect to that. With the help of Brian and Roger I think that would be easier for me to accomplish.”
The other hot rumour about a future for is a tour with Lady Gaga. Is there anything in that?
Have you thought about your moves? And your outfit?I know nothing about it, I did hear something about her mixed with the band’s name. I’m a huge fan, I think she’s fabulous but I don’t know about any collaboration. I think she’s a busy lady! I don’t know if she’s got time on her schedule. If she wants to come onstage and sing, I’d be down!
“Moves? For me unless it’s a sequence with actual dancers I don’t really plan that shit. I feel like my moves are pretty organic, it just kind of comes. And what to wear, I haven’t figured it out yet, I’ve been thinking about working with a designer to create something original and special for the night. Something that’s just theatrical enough but just cool enough.”
nme.com: Adam Lambert - 'I'm Not Trying To Outdo Freddie Mercury'