It was the conversation he could only have with us.
“Right after the finale, I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, ‘I’m going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler,’ ” Lambert said. His patience paid off with a cover story in our latest issue (check out exclusive video of his cover shoot), and here, in his own words, more from Vanessa Grigoriadis’ conversation with Lambert — his true thoughts on his Idol experience, his future in music and why he refuses to hide his sexuality.
On why he auditioned for American Idol:
I looked at the music business, and realized it is nearly impossible to make it with the way it is right now. No one is going to take a chance with an artist who is somewhat out there. The only way you have a chance being looked at by a label right now is if you are what everyone else is. So I realized that I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a recording artist unless I had a huge platform. I saw that and I knew that Idol was the only thing that would do it — if it worked.
On Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta:
[Kris Allen] has a good heart and a good spirit. He’s so mellow, he’s so kick-back. He and I have a lot of love with Allison Iraheta: It felt like this kind of sibling thing. Just good energy, the three of us together. Kris and I both got very protective of her. We encouraged her to pick up the guitar and take risks musically. It always felt very positive … good karma, you know? Kris doesn’t need any advice, clearly. Even though he’s really kick-back, he’s got a very strong sense of self in a non-aggressive, non-intense way. It’s cool.
On his early attempts at songwriting:
My songs were like campy, sexy electro, like Peaches and Goldfrapp. I can look back now and realize I wasn’t very good at it. I was trying to put in way too many words. I was trying to be way too melodramatic and serious, you know? It’s like what a junior high student does with poetry. But over the course of a couple years, I started really trying to listen to what worked out there in music, like hooks — and realized that less is more. The simple idea is better in a song.
On life after Idol:
I’m hopeful. I have a great opportunity right now. There are a lot of people who want to work with me that I really respect. And hopefully it works. I’m not cocky because I’ve seen a lot of guys come off this show and bomb, so I recognize that I could crash and burn. But if I play it safe, it’s not going to work, so I might as well go for it with the same intention that I had on the show.
On where he wants to go musically:
I want to do something that has theatricality, a nod to the glam rockers that I love, but is also contemporary. It’s not all going to be happy-go-lucky because I think it’s important to explore other emotional parts of yourself as an artist, but there’s a time and place for it. I would love to work with Madonna. I’m a big fan. I just want to play dress up and be fabulous. When you’re a kid, you do the make-believe thing — you play dress-up and pretend. That’s the child mentality, and I feel like if you’re an adult and you can adopt the child mentality to something cool, that’s what being a “rock star” is. It’s just playing. It’s Halloween. It’s make-believe. It’s fun. And who doesn’t want to do that? That’s the kind of music that I want to make — music that encourages people to play make-believe, escape and have fun.
On experiencing discrimination:
A few years ago, I did a musical with Val Kilmer, The Ten Commandments at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. I was finally personally awakened, wearing nail-polish, feeling attractive and comfortable in my own skin for the first time. We’d go out sometimes with Val, and it was the first time I’d ever been around a celebrity — it felt really fabulous. One night, we hung out at his house and Sean Lennon came over to jam with us. I was like, John Lennon’s son? This is the coolest thing I’ve done in my life. But I had a lot of problems with the people putting on the show. One day, the director pulled me aside and said, “Can you turn it down? The producers are a little uncomfortable. It’s a little too … gay.” I was like, “Um, are we doing a musical here? I’m sorry, there are fags all over the place, dude.” It was very upsetting.
On making his sexuality public:
There are so many old-fashioned ways of looking at things, and if we want to be a progressive society, we have to start thinking in a different way. There’s the old industry idea that you should just make sexuality a non-issue, just say your private life’s your private life, and not talk about it. But that’s bullshit, because private lives don’t exist anymore for celebrities: they just don’t. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder all the time, thinking I have to hide, being scared of being found out, putting on a front, having a beard, going down the red carpet with some chick who is posing as my girlfriend. That’s not cool, that’s not being a rock star. I can’t do that.
“Wild Idol: The Psychedelic Transformation and Sexual Liberation of Adam Lambert” is on newsstands now.
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