Sometimes, losing is winning. When Adam Lambert was out-voted for the American Idol crown three seasons ago, it appeared his singing career was headed to a roadside casino. That's how it works, right? The champ gets all the glory and runners-up are sent away with a bouquet of good-luck flowers. Well, not this time. Lambert's popularity soared immediately and kept growing, ultimately making him the most recognized male Idol of the show's entire run (now in its 11th season). A Grammy nominee, LGBT advocate, platinum-selling recording artist, trans-Atlantic pop star, and a credible replacement for Queen's frontman sums up a short, impressive professional career for the San Diego native.
Lambert releases his sophomore album, Trespassing, on May 15. Two singles have already been spawned from the CD, 'Better Than I Know Myself' and 'Never Close Our Eyes.' I spoke with the entertainer recently via phone, who was very friendly and upbeat. From his Los Angeles residence here's what the fabulous Adam Lambert shared with me inside The Music Lounge.
Albert Rodriguez: The obvious question is when are you coming back to Seattle?
Adam Lambert: I don't know. I had a nice night there. We went on a little bar crawl. It was fun.
Rodriguez: Do you remember where you went?
Lambert: I think we went to Pony. I honestly don't remember all the clubs. I have a friend who lives in Seattle, and he showed us around.
Rodriguez: Do you like Seattle from the times you've been here?
Lambert: Loved it. It was great. I haven't been there a lot, but from my few experiences I think the people are very friendly and I like the liberal sensibility there.
Rodriguez: It was just announced that you'll be performing a limited number of shows with Queen. What impact do you think Freddie Mercury has had on you and Gay culture in general?
Lambert: What's so cool about Freddie is that it's beyond just Gay culture. He reached a very broad audience. Of course, he was part of a great rock band, a legendary rock band. His voice transcended all, and his songwriting also. For me personally, I learned about him after his passing. It's interesting when he came out there were so many people who didn't realize he was Gay, and people that may not have otherwise approved of it went, 'Well, we really love Freddie Mercury, we love Queen. So okay, fine'.
Rodriguez: For up-and-coming musicians who are openly Gay, is the music industry welcoming, or are there areas where it's not as welcoming yet?
Lambert: It's hard to say. I go back and forth on it. I think things are progressing and the entertainment industry, in general, is moving forward. I think the TV and film industry is moving further ahead than the music industry; they're a little bit more bold in that whole realm.
Rodriguez: You recently appeared at the NewNowNext Awards, as did Josh Hutcherson. Did you meet him?
Lambert: He actually came to my concert in Hawaii. He was working on a film there, and someone he was working on the film with knew somebody and they came to the show. Very nice young man. Very polite, and he just seems like he's got both feet on the ground.
Rodriguez: Gay marriage is expected to pass later this year in the state of Washington. If it does and a couple wanted to book you for their wedding reception, how many bottles of champagne would it cost?
Lambert: [Laughs.] I don't get paid in champagne. I don't know how much it would cost. Those couples would have to talk to my agent. [Laughs again.]
Rodriguez: For those in pursuit of a music career, would you recommend going the American Idol route like you did, or trying something different?
Lambert: It's a case-by-case thing. When I finally decided to audition for the show I was 27 and in an ensemble of a musical working with some producers and writers outside of the show, and I was doing studio demo work. I started asking around and getting a feel for what the music industry was like at the time. And based on what I had learned and what I saw, I felt like Idol was my best shot. I did what I had to do, being a 27 year-old openly Gay chorus boy by night and club kid by later night. It just didn't feel like it was going to be an easy sell for me to a middle-aged, white, record label executive. So, I decided that I needed to shortcut myself and get out there. Idol is a PR dream - it puts you on television across the country and I just figured, 'I'll let people decide if they like me or not and let that convince a record executive to sign me.'
Rodriguez: It turns out the people did like you.
Lambert: I had to do what I had to do. But I don't know if it would have worked out for me had I not done something like that. I don't know if it's everybody's path, but at the time it was the best path for me.
Rodriguez: Do you have an all-time favorite music diva, living or dead?
Lambert: Ooh. God, there's so many great divas. Beyoncé! Madonna!
Rodriguez: Those two are pretty high on your list?
Lambert: Those two are queens. I've always been a Madonna fan. I love the pop divas. Christina [Aguilera], Rihanna. The pop divas are great.
Rodriguez: I've seen you here in Seattle, I've seen you on TV and I know you have some killer threads. I'm wondering if you'll ever have a yard sale or eBay auction where we can buy that stuff.
Lambert: I'm holding onto a lot of it right now. I don't even know why. [Laughs.] I'm kind of a pack rat. There might be things that will make their way into charity. I like the idea of giving it back.
Rodriguez: In the past year or so, bullying has really affected Gay youth. Do you have any ideas on how we can combat this?
Lambert: It's interesting because bullying has always affected Gay youth. It's just now becoming very public. There's like a media storm around it and I think it's good. Awareness and having it out on the table is a big necessary step for us, to help kids that are victims. Teachers and parents are much more aware of it. On the other hand, there's a part of me that looks at it and goes, 'You know, that's part of life. That's survival.' I will do everything I can for people to find confidence and support in order to cope with hateful people, but hateful people are everywhere and bullying exists far beyond Gay and Lesbian people.sgn.org: Adam Lambert proves winning isn't everything