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The Unexpurgated interview with Adam Lambert

Word of a winner’s curse on popular reality singing competition American Idol has been going around and Adam Lambert is doing nothing to prove that wrong. The runner-up of the eighth season of the show is an example of how winning the competition doesn’t necessarily mean one continues winning in the unforgiving world of show business.

Word of a winner’s curse on popular reality singing competition American Idol has been going around and Adam Lambert is doing nothing to prove that wrong. The runner-up of the eighth season of the show is an example of how winning the competition doesn’t necessarily mean one continues winning in the unforgiving world of show business.

The flamboyant performer was the first American Idol contestant to headline his worldwide concert tour, Glam Nation, a year after his season and he’s now on his second. In this Unexpurgated interview, he shared his thoughts on the show that gave him his big break, what fans can expect at his concert tonight and how he’d be great in a comedic vampire show.

HAVE YOU BEEN GUILTY OF TRESPASSING OR ANY OTHER NOTABLE MISDEMEANOURS? No I’m pretty good. The idea behind (my album) Trespassing is that it’s a metaphor for breaking new ground, taking risks, going forward into something that’s maybe not necessarily an instant fit or going into a community or a situation where you’re not necessarily met with open arms but you just have to have the faith in yourself and go for it. That’s kind of true of this whole lifestyle for me of being in the entertainment industry and taking risks like going on Idol and different projects that I’ve taken over the last couple of years have all been challenges so Trespassing is kind of this call to arms to just go for it. It was autobiographical but I was also trying to find some kind of common ground with all of my fans because I think that even though we’re all very different and we all come from different parts of the world, we all go through the same stuff.

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE TRESPASSING INTO YOUR PERSONAL SPACE? I get trespassed into my personal space all the time. Were you at the airport the other day? It’s part of the gig you know? I think part of drawing the line is just shrugging it off and being ‘well, it is what it is.’ One of the things I’ve learnt this year is part of being in control of your life is knowing when to surrender. That’s my new motto. It’s a struggle and it’s a journey but I’m trying.

HAVING ACHIEVED SO MUCH, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU ARE DREAMING OF ACHIEVING NOW? I want to keep going in the arts. If something on-camera happens someday like a film or a TV thing that would be really fun.

WHAT WOULD BE A DREAM ROLE FOR YOU? I think the vampire thing is too predictable at this point, isn’t it? Maybe a comedic vampire show, that’d be good. I’d like to design stuff, do things behind scenes as well. Maybe fashion stuff or directing at some point.

WHO IS YOUR FASHION ICON? I take from a lot. I’m always inspired when I look at things, I’m very visual. When I read a magazine and see an editorial I remember it and sometimes I’ll just take my phone out and take pictures of what I see. I love high-fashion; I love the stuff that they’re doing on the runways. I also like things that are completely left field that aren’t necessarily totally chic, something that’s totally weird. I don’t take fashion too seriously in the sense that I get ridiculous sometimes. Sometimes I look crazy and that’s part of my expression: that I want to let go and be expressive and maybe inspire the sense of a smile in somebody.

WILL YOU DO A MUSICAL? I would love to do a musical. Doing a movie musical would be the sensible first step into something like that, if they’ll cast me in it.

YOU HAD SOME OPINIONS ON LES MISERABLES. We’re not talking about Les Miserables, I’ve already talked about it. I always have opinions. I think being an artist and having opinions goes hand in hand. I think one of the difficulties of being a pop artist in today’s world is that the minute you have a contrary opinion, people get personally offended but I don’t mean it to be offensive if I disagree with something that someone feels. I just want to have a discussion about it. I think by talking about it and getting passionate and a little friendly healthy debate is really good for the brain and the spirit and for the arts. It’s good to have strong opinions.

ARE YOU WATCHING AMERICAN IDOL? I’ve been jumping around so much the last couple of weeks I’ve missed a bunch of episodes but I’ve been trying to keep up online and one of the things that I’ve noticed with the top 40 is that it’s a lot more diverse this year as far as lifestyle goes from what I can tell. And what’s kind of beautiful and progressive is that they’re not really tagging everybody and not labelling directly, it’s kind of implied which I think is actually really tasteful. I’m excited to see where the show goes.

HOW DIFFERENTLY WOULD YOU THINK YOUR LIFE WOULD HAVE TURNED OUT IF YOU HADN’T JOINED AMERICAN IDOL? It changed everything. I’m really thankful to Idol. I was doing a lot of theatre and then I got interested in recording music and writing my own stuff and started working with different writers and producers in LA and getting the feel for the industry by talking to people who had been signed and then dropped and then signed again. I learnt a lot about the business and I kind of felt it out – I probably could have given it a bit more time but what I figured was someone like me being as different as I was, being 27 at the time, with theatre as my background, the chances of me getting singed to a major label were really slim. So I thought what could I do to change my situation and when the audition for Idol came up in conversation with friends I thought that would probably be a great way in because you get the platform of television which is huge. And I kind of left it up to the people and if people like what I do then a record label would probably like what I did since they’re really concerned about making money. So it seemed like a logical way to get there but of course, being in the industry now for four years post-Idol is interesting because there is a kind of a stigma within the industry with the talent competitions and TV shows: not everyone who gets on there breaks through. I’m still working on things. I’m very happy with my success and very satisfied with it but of course I want more and it is a bit of a challenge getting out of the shadow of being a TV persona.

YOU MENTIONED THAT THIS BUSINESS IS CONCERNED ABOUT MAKING MONEY, HAVE YOU EVER FELT THAT YOU HAD TO COMPROMISE ON YOUR MUSICAL PREFERENCES OR INCLINATION BECAUSE OF BUSINESS CONSIDERATIONS? It’s a balancing act. I think that part of the duty of an artist is to have integrity, to have creativity and free ideas and being a pop artist, it is a business, and it’s kind of what it is so it’s balancing the two that’s quite important. I’m still trying to figure that out. One of the things I love about being on tour is that when I’m on stage, that’s mine. (Me) and the audience, that’s our time. So regardless of an album or single that came out, the concert is very much my complete vision, 100 per cent.

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FORMING YOUR GLAM-ROCK STYLE? WERE YOU ALWAYS THIS SELF-ASSURED EVEN IN YOUR TEEN YEARS? Yes and no. I think being a performer, growing up doing theatre you kind of have to put on the façade of being self-assured, it’s kind of part of the gig going up on stage and going “I got it, it’s okay.” Underneath all that, I’ve always had a struggle and I still go through things personally. I think part of what I do is try to inspire people and try to make people feel stronger and powerful and sexy, it’s more of something I project. But I go through my own self-worry and image issues you know, like everybody. When I was a kid, a teenager I was not as confident as I am now, I think I definitely have grown into myself a lot more. I think experience teaches us a lot and relationships teach us a lot. Friends, family, lovers, that changes who you think you are when you look at yourself in the mirror.

HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH BULLIES IN SCHOOL WHO TEASED YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE DIFFERENT? My situation wasn’t terrible. I didn’t go through some of things I’ve heard some kids have gone through. I mean, it helped that I grew up in a more liberal area of San Diego but middle school years were a bit awkward. I was kind of a loner. My way of dealing with it was pulling a way, which is not the best way. As I got a little older in high school I realized communities are really important. If you find an activity that you really, really love then chances are you’ll find somebody else who really loves it and you’ll bond over that. And that was kind of my saving grace, being involved in choir, drama, photography and student council, things like that where there were like-minded people and we got along. And we kind of celebrated each other because of what we could create together as opposed to what our preferences were. I wasn’t out in high school but it was kind of understood and not talked about but I was in a community of people who didn’t care. So find your community, that’s helpful.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY CULTURE SHOCK TOURING AROUND ASIA? It is different. It’s interesting being here in Singapore, it’s a bit more westernized I can tell. Being a recording artist and having the label take you around, you’re kind of taken care of a bit so it’s not as difficult as maybe if you were here fending for yourself. Some of the food is really interesting in certain parts. Trying to understand what’s put in the food, trying to understand how that got from there to there, how much MSG they put in it, that’s a culture shock – or a stomach shock. But I’ve had a great time. And I think that without trying to sound too corny, music brings people together and when you’re here as a performer sharing music , the differences in culture get blurred a little bit. Even with language barriers, one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that eye contact and laughter are the ways to get past the language barrier.

WHAT PRE-STAGE RITUAL DO YOU DO BEFORE YOU PERFORM? Nothing too weird. I don’t sacrifice any baby goats backstage. I usually drink some tea, it’s a lot more vegetarian. I do some warm-ups. When I can, I try to exercise a little bit before the show, it kind of helps get the blood flowing.

WHAT’S THE FUNNIEST SIGNBOARD YOU’VE SEEN AT YOUR CONCERT? There’s one that’s been floating around the past couple of days and I keep staring and I am like, “What does that say?” I think there’re some misspellings on it. I think it was a Chinese fan and the Chinese to American translation wasn’t quite right. It said something about my glam bulge. It’s interesting to be objectified, let me tell you that.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR YOUR SHOW HERE? I’m pretty impulsive, I don’t really plan too far in advance so when we rehearsed for this tour, we rehearsed this basic set featuring music from the two albums, figuring out a flow that made sense. We get to sound check on the day of the show and maybe one song we take out and we’ve been working in new songs here and there; covers and other surprises. Same thing with the outfits, I’ve got two big suitcases of clothes that I brought and I’ll point ‘I’ll wear that at this part, that at this part and that at this part.’ It makes it more fun and spontaneous. There might be some new song, there might not be, I don’t know.

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