Adam Lambert may wrapping up a U.S. tour fronting Queen, but his schedule will be busy for quite a while. A Queen + Adam Lambert tour of Australia and New Zealand kicks off Aug. 22; he's currently campaigning for AT&T's "Live Proud" project; and of course, there's his shrouded-in-secrecy third album, reportedly due for release in early 2015 (Adam won't confirm the date just yet).
In between whirlwind tourdates and recording sessions, Adam chatted with Yahoo Music about the challenges of filling Freddie Mercury's (fabulous) shoes, winning over Queen crowds, and how this summer's Queen experience may affect his solo music going forward. Don't stop him now, he's having too good a time…
YAHOO MUSIC: You've been on the road in the U.S. with Queen for more than a month now. How's it going?
ADAM: It's going really well. We've had a lot of warmth; you really feel the crowd come closer and closer as the show progresses. I mean, the first couple of songs, I can kind of look out and feel a little bit of "OK, all right, we're checking you out, we don't know yet…" And then there are certain moments in the show where I can feel the audience give in to all of it — which is part of what this is all supposed to be, like this suspension of disbelief. It's a little bit of an escape and a journey. Parts of it are supposed to be ridiculous; that's the spirit of the band, that's what they always were, so that's one of the reasons why I wasn't shy with the fashion or some of my choices energetically onstage. That's the spirit of this band, that's how it was originally intended to be presented, and I want to try my damnedest to bring that spirit to life again!
You definitely weren't shy with the fashion. At one point in the show, you even wear a glittering crown…
Ha, everybody is all about this crown! I mean, yeah, I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism in it. I just kind of thought, "The band is Queen, I should get a crown!" Freddie came onstage famously with a cloak, like a cape and crown, at one point, and I just thought that was so camp and ridiculous and hilarious, so I wanted to do it too… although my crown is a little sparklier.
Some Queen purists on message boards gave you a hard time about that crown… like you were trying to be Freddie or something…
Well, what I think is really cool about the show is that we've purposely, visually and musically, tried to not stray too far from the O.G. Queen, even though it's a new incarnation. I think we all kind of agreed, "Let's recreate some of these moments and iconic sounds and looks and styles" — even with the fashion, I looked at a lot of Freddie's old costumes and where he was getting his inspiration from and what time period, and kind of tried to go there a little bit.
Was it daunting taking on Freddie's solo song "Love Kills" in concert, since he never performed it himself during his lifetime?
Yeah, in a way, but that was also the exciting thing about it — that it's harder to compare that one, as opposed to me singing "Who Wants to Live Forever," where you can listen to the original of that and go, "Well, Freddie's amazing…"
What have you enjoyed most about singing the Queen classics?
I have a theater background and I've done outlandish, over-the-top stuff, so when we get to those songs in the set, it's an easy fit. But I also really like doing the funkier, bluesier stuff. I also like that at the end of "Somebody to Love," I can kind of go to church a little bit with it. These are the kind of moments that I always love when I'm onstage, and I get to play dress-up!
Do you think that beyond touring, you and Queen would ever make an album of all-new material? That would be interesting.
I don't know. You can never say never at this point. I mean, if I had someone tell me five years ago, "Oh, you're going to be on a summer arena tour with Queen," I would have said, "Really?" So I'm sure if it's the right thing and we all feel like it's the right time, the right song or whatever, it could happen. It's not really in the mix yet, right now. We definitely are just trying to focus on what's ahead of us in the next month. And, on the horizon, I've been working on my album…
How do you think your Queen experience will affect that album? How has it influenced you?
I think one of the cool things about being on tour with this group is that it opens up a lot of different doors musically. I mean, Queen do Southern bluesy rock, they do pop, they do glam/theatrical/operatic s---, they do punk. Their music goes all over the place and obviously spans decades, and so it kind of makes me feel, for my upcoming album, really liberated to do whatever the f--- I want, song to song. I think that nowadays, trying to box oneself into a genre is kind of outdated; it doesn't feel like that's what's happening. I think everybody is going, "OK, I'm going to borrow from this, that, and the other thing; these are my references, and I'll mix it all together in some new way." I think there's going to be some new sounds on this album that I haven't really gone into before, and some stuff that's very signature me, and some stuff that's a little retro, but not too retro…
You definitely drew a lot from the '70s and '80s on your first two albums.
Totally, there's some things from every decade that you could point out. I love a lot of '70s stuff; I love a lot of stuff from the '90s. It's funny how trends change, you know? Now all of a sudden, all this '90s-sounding house music is becoming pop now, and it's like, who would have saw that coming?
I kind of think your album Trespassing was ahead of its time by a year or so. It had Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams on it, then a year later Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" blew up, and now Nile and Pharrell are everywhere…
You know, it's funny. I think what's funny about the music business, that I've learned kind of the hard way, is that part of it is the music — you have to have good songs, obviously, or else your product isn't there — but so much of it is about timing and positioning. The business of music is really tricky, and everything has to kind of work in unison, in harmony, to make for a successful release. And that's just something I'm still learning about. I think with this one coming up, without being able to give away all the details of the business plan, it's a much different situation: different label, different producers, different people involved, different management. It's all going to be a different ballgame, so I'm really excited.