entertainment

Adam Lambert on his new musical, 'concept album' and the future of Queen

The trailblazing star speaks to Boy George about gender fluidity and sexual diversity in the Attitude February issue.

2021-12-29

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Joeseph Sinclair

In a Mayfair boardroom, Boy George has just gifted Adam Lambert — already a statuesque 6ft 1in, and in platform heels — the bowler hat from his own head. Not the uncannily tall one headlines said ‘blocked’ Phillip Schofield’s view at the An Audience with Adele recording days before, but similar. (George called the reports “utter s****”, telling one Twitter critic: “I’m getting an even bigger hat so I can cast a shadow over dull people with no style!”)

At first, Lambert — a spiritual descendant of the music icon in terms of talent and general fabulousness — politely refuses the headgear. (“No, George! Are you sure?”) But Boy George, whose admiration for the Queen collaborator is clear, insists. And when I suggest Adam accepts the act of generosity for the sake of this story — the intro writes itself, after all — George asserts: “I’m not doing it for that!” Point taken…

Adam wears coat by Balenciaga, tops by Rick Owens for the Attitude February issue. (Photography: Joseph Sinclair; Fashion director: Joseph Kocharian; Hair and makeup: Brooke Simons; Fashion assistant: Sacha Dance)

Besides, George has another hat on today: that of Lambert's interviewer for the Attitude February issue cover feature - out now to download and to order globally. The pair have easy-going chemistry after meeting years ago. (“I was DJing in this dreadful club, you popped in,” says George.) They’ve been friends ever since. And if anyone can comprehend Lambert’s mind-boggling achievements, it’s George, a pop veteran who has sold 50 million records.

Indianapolis-born Lambert, of course, was the rare talent-show contestant to command global attention off the bat, as the guyliner-loving American Idol runner-up in 2009. Since then, the 39-year-old has quietly become one of the century’s most vocal LGBTQ+ pop stars. The chart facts are, frankly, nuts: his first album, 2010’s For Your Entertainment, went in above Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster; 2011’s Trespassing made him, unbelievably, the first out gay star to land a Billboard No. 1; in 2020, after six years of touring with legendary rockers Queen, he released Live Around the World: his first UK No. 1 album, and the band’s first No. 1 since 1995’s Made In Heaven.

Our interview falls just days before the 30-year anniversary of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s death from Aids-related complications in 1991. (“I met him a few times,” remembers George of the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ singer. “He was beautiful, always so entertaining. He’d make comments, but they were genius, arch.”) As such, it’s with great respect that Attitude brings up the subject of new, original music from the trio. It’s a pertinent question: drummer Roger Taylor recently told Mojo that he, guitarist Brian May and Lambert wrote a “pretty damn good” song together, but that May “suddenly lost interest”.

“The only time we ever get asked that is when the media asks,” says Lambert.

Adam wears coat, stylist’s own; top by Saint Laurent at MyTheresa; jewellery (throughout) Adam’s own (Photography: Joseph Sinclair)

George, thankfully, helps us out. “But it would be good, as a music fan…” he opines. “What you are, and they are together is beautiful anyway.”

“It definitely… it could be great,” Lambert concedes. “I know Brian’s gone down the route of wondering about it. He and I are on the same page. But what is it, really? Is it Queen?”

“It’s the essence of Queen!” George responds. “When I do a drawing of someone, I don’t copy exactly what’s there. I want the essence of the person. It’s not for me to say, but you’re amazing, they’re amazing – it can only be amazing.”

“Of course, that’s the most positive, idealistic way of looking at it,” admits Lambert. “I love that. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to let anybody down, to fall short of what a brand-new Queen song would sound like.”

Adam wears coat by Balmain; shirt by Fendi (Photography: Joseph Sinclair)

Besides, Lambert already has a jam-packed 2022. There are Queen + Adam Lambert live dates in the UK in May and June before they head to Europe, plus he’s judging a new ITV talent show, Starstruck, all the while “actively making space” for his personal life. (He declines to discuss his relationship with boyfriend Oliver Gliese, other than to say: “I’m very happy, thank you.”)

Then there’s his as-of-yet-untitled musical – in which George, we’re told, is also involved. “It’s about a real-life person who’s a bit obscure,” explains Lambert. “Writing music for someone else’s story has been really interesting. It takes place in the 70s. I love that era. I’ll be putting out an album, linked to the musical. A concept album, where I’m performing it.”

Read the full interview in the Attitude February issue, out now.

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