'You're more open,' star says of Canada
MONTREAL - When we met Thursday morning, Adam Lambert was in remarkably good spirits.
The flamboyant, glammy pop star, who was the runner-up in the 2009 edition of American Idol, is on a promotional tour talking up his sophomore album, Trespassing. And he says he's really digging the reaction he's been getting in Canada.
Canada has "a different mindset," said Lambert, sitting on the balcony of a swanky suite at the W Hotel. "You're more open. Music audiences here might not get turned off by a couple of things that audiences in the States get caught up in. Like sexuality. Like alternative representation of masculinities. That's a tougher sell in America."
His alternative representation of masculinity sparked much chatter during his Idol run, and shortly after coming in second on the top-rated music-competition TV show, he told a Rolling Stone reporter he was gay. When Trespassing debuted at No. 1 on the American charts a couple of weeks back, there was a lot of talk that this was a major breakthrough, given that he's an openly gay artist.
Lambert said he has no issues with folks seeing him as a poster boy for positive gay representation in the entertainment world. But he still seems a little taken aback by just how big an issue it was when he discussed his sexuality in Rolling Stone.
"I didn't know how that was going to play out," Lambert said. "I now realize how much impact it does have. It's weird, because I've been out of the closet and comfortable with everything since I was 18. Then 10 years later, I'm auditioning for American Idol and all of a sudden it's an issue. I'm like, 'Oh, really? It hasn't been an issue for me since I was a teenager.' It was a lot to take on."
"The first big interview after the show was with Rolling Stone, and she didn't even have to ask. It just came up in conversation. That's what's funny. The perception is that I was in the closet during the show. But I wasn't. I was open with everyone. It just never came up in conversation on the air. That's the big learning curve - that when you're something alternative to the mainstream and all of a sudden you're introduced to the mainstream, you have to think differently. It's an odd path."
Lambert says he certainly owes a debt to earlier male pop stars who challenged traditional notions of sexuality - gender-bending '70s pioneers like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury from Queen.
"I'm totally inspired by them," said Lambert. "I love challenging the mainstream perception of masculinity.
It's fun. At the beginning, a lot of what I was doing was to remind people that that was so great. Because it's been a minute since we've had that kind of artistry from male stars."
Speaking of Queen, Lambert will be stepping into Mercury's shoes to front a reunited Queen this summer, with a series of dates set for Russia, Poland and England.
On the 2009 American Idol finale, he and that year's winner, Kris Allen, teamed up with Roger Taylor and Brian May from Queen to belt out We Are the Champions.
"I feel honoured to be asked, first of all, and I feel I have my work cut out for me," said Lambert. "But I think it's going to be a good growing experience."
There are no plans to bring the Lambert-fronted Queen to North America, in part because the Queen Extravaganza - a Taylor-produced tribute band - is already out on the road in this part of the world.
Lambert mostly just wants to focus on his own music, and he feels he's in a great place. He believes Trespassing is a more cohesive disc than 2009's For Your Entertainment, he is already thinking of mounting a major tour for 2013 and he is super happy that his second al-bum debuted atop the album sales charts. That made him feel "completely, 100 per cent validated and relieved."
When he said he was surprised, I asked: "Why would you be surprised that your al-bum was No. 1? You're Adam Lambert."
"Exactly. That's why I was surprised."
And if he's opening a door for other gay artists, all the better, says Lambert.
"I would always like to think it doesn't matter. But the sad truth is, it does mat-ter. So what I'm hoping is that this signifies that it doesn't matter and record companies will start taking more risks. That they'll realize it's viable to have someone that's out as long as the music's good."
Trespassing is out now.montrealgazette.com: Adam Lambert erases the borders