Q&A: Adam Lambert On Trespassing, Stankface, Tracking Nile Rodgers On Twitter, And Being An Out Pop Star In 2012
When Adam Lambert was on American Idol in 2009, he grabbed viewers' attention with his octave-leaping voice and startling reworkings of talent-show standbyswhile he came in second that season, he was certainly that year's most rock-star-like contestant, and he made even more headlines when he came out of the closet on the cover of Rolling Stone shortly after the Idol season wrapped. Today he releases Trespassing (RCA), his second post-Idol album, and its confidence and catchiness should further establish him as one of today's premier male pop stars. Trespassing, which counts among its collaborators Pharrell, Sam Sparro, Chic's Nile Rogers, and Dr. Luke, struts; it brims with grooves and is led by Lambert's overwhelming charisma, and it could very well be the first No. 1 album by an out pop star, as Chris Molanphy noted last week.
SOTC caught up with Lambert yesterday before he performed a brief set at the MLB Fan Cave, located in the former Tower Records space at East 4th St. and Broadway.
I love the record. I think it's so great, so fun, so lively. I don't know if you saw the article we ran last week...
I love it. It was really flattering. Thank you.
What do you think of [the possibility of Trespassing being the first No. 1 album by an out pop star]?
I love the idea of it. I do hope people buy the record because they like the recordand I think they will. I feel this whole journey has been a guessing game, when it first started. It was like, "I hope this works, I hope this is good." When I was on Idol I knew I could get up on stage and do what I thought was great, and when I made it every week, I was like, "Wow, this is actually working? People like this?" I couldn't wrap my head around it. And even with the first album, it was like, all right. But after that sunk in and I toured and I got a bit of a fanbase and I traveled, now I'm like, "OK." And when I wrote this album I felt like, "OK, I know what I want to do." And I trust that more now than ever. This album, we wrapped it up, and I was like, "This is damn good." And I'm somebody that doubts myself a whole lot. But for me to come to that [point] is really amazing.
I think it brims with a lot of confidence. How did you approach writing the songs so that, even with your collaborators, you let your personality shine through?
A little bit into the process I said, "Look, I really want to executive produce this. I'm going to be able to make sure that it has a cohesive feeling." When I went into my various writing sessionssome of which I sought out, some of [which] the label arranged for meI brought that in and I would sit there and talk with the producer and say this is the music that is inspiring me, this is the sound I want to give it, and I think I helped steer the ship.
I was at Burning Man, and up until the point of Burning Man we had done a handful of emotional dark stuff, some of which was really good and some that was a little kindergarten. I had written a few songs that were a little more throwback classic rock, which I've always kind of [enjoyed]. But I was looking for something. And I'm out on the playa on Burning Man in an art car with friends, and there's so much dubstep. And I appreciate dubstep from a producing, technical point of view, but there's no groove to a lot of it.
It's very nu-metal-y.
It's very hard. Very metal-y. I like a pocketI like, like, funk or disco or stuff that you can shake your ass to. That's sexy. And this little art car comes zipping by us just blasting Daft Punk. And our art car went from rocking to dubstep to immediately smiling and getting down with each other and touching each other. It just hit me in the head and I was like, "That's the type of record I want." It's instant. It's classic. It's old, it's young. It's black, it's white. Gay, straight. I was captivated by it.
I like the way [Trespassing] grooves. It does have a poppy-atmosphere to it, which I feel is lacking a lot right now. I feel like rhythms on the radio are so 4/4 skip.
We tried to find stuff that gave it a little bit of a different feeling. Stankface is what I want to achieve with the album. And I feel like it does trigger stankfaceI've watched people react to it. And that's another part of it too. I had the time to sit with the demo, fine tune it, go back and change stuff with the producers, write new parts, add new elements, and then play it for people. Play it for friends, colleagues, people I respect and trust, and see the reaction. And if I got a bunch of, "Eh," then I was like, "This isn't going to work." When you're an artist it's hard to be totally objective.
All of that combined, I love this album. Here's to stank.