Written and recorded in Los Angeles, New York and London, Trespassing is unmistakably an Adam Lambert album. It balances up-tempo, dance-oriented numbers with a handful of starker, bare-bones tracks that pair understated production with his majestic, haunting vocals.
Like its predecessor, it’s an album that pointedly showcases Lambert’s versatility, both as a singer and a songwriter. Its 12 tracks run the gamut from songs that feature full-on rock wailing and falsetto shrieking to those that focus more on capturing altogether quieter, more understated moments. It strikes a balance between the two with aplomb, something Lambert tells me he’s “glad to hear.”
“I spent over a year-and-a-half working on all of these songs,” he says. “The one big difference between this album and the last was that element of time. There wasn’t as much of a rush or as much concentrated, time-related pressure. It kind of was allowed to evolve a little more naturally, which I really enjoyed. I feel lucky in that I had a bunch of songs that were really fun, funky kind of dance songs and then a few that were a bit more on the dark side and, somehow, they fitted together to make a cohesive whole. It’s nice to hear it from other people, too. That makes it feel a bit more real.
“It was a labour of love. I got to work with some amazing people, like Pharrell Williams and Bruno Mars and Sam Sparro. I enjoy and feel like I do my best when I’m working with people in a full collaboration. Sometimes I’ll come up with a phrase or a concept, a couple of lines, and I’ll take those ideas into a room with a producer, maybe another writer, and we’ll toss the ball back-and-forth creatively. That’s usually what works for me and I’ve found, over time, that that’s the best method.”
Asked whether he prefers performing live with a full band or acoustically, in a more stripped-back setting, Lambert professes to equally loving both approaches, albeit for radically different reasons.
“I mean, I was a 27-year-old middle-class white guy wearing make-up and heels, what did people think they were getting, you know?”
“I think one of the benefits you get, when you have a full band, especially with a lot of the more upbeat songs, is you get all of the rhythms that are intended for the record. The vocals are my main job, to communicate the story and give it rhythm in that way, if you like, but especially with some of the much more dance-oriented songs, you get so much more when you have the guitar, the bass, the keyboards and the drums, that’s what makes you want to dance, that’s what the collective energy of having a full band onstage gives you,” he muses.
“But, you know, I love also really stripping it back, as you said. Doing the more unplugged stuff is really beautiful, too, because it makes it a little more personal, a little more intimate. You can hear the voice maybe a little clearer or a little cleaner and it’s just a different vibe. One of the things I love about this album so much is that I feel, for the most part, all of the songs can be performed in different ways. You can do them plugged in, with a bunch of instruments, or just a guitar and my voice and they still work. That’s very exciting.”
Similarly exciting – and also “pretty massively nerve-wracking and ridiculously scary, at times” – was Lambert’s recent string of European performances as the frontman for iconic rock group Queen.
Lambert first crossed paths with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor when they performed ‘We Are The Champions’ during the final episode of American Idol.
Given that he had initially auditioned for the show with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ there was a certain serendipitous synchronicity not only to their performing together on Idol but also, several years later, to Lambert being approached to fill Freddie Mercury’s shoes.
“There was definitely more than a bit of trepidation when I was asked, but of course there was never any other option than to say yes! I mean, what an absolute honour. Leading up to the first concert, I definitely was apprehensive because I didn’t know exactly how the audience would receive the performance and I was totally sure if I was going to be able to pull it off, but the rehearsal was helpful and both Brian and Roger are complete class acts – they are down-to-earth and have such great energy. They made it really clear from the get-go that it was about great music and bringing it to life.
“When I connected with them, that was the sole motivation. As to the expectation and the criticism, I was aware of it but I kind of tuned it out. That’s kind of been my life, tuning out the negative, extraneous stuff and focusing on the task at hand. That’s kind of what American Idol was, in many respects, and, listen, I’m not always perfect at it! The key to it working is tuning out all the extra nonsense and just using what you need for the performance, but of course it stings when someone is negative. I’m human. It hurts.”
Something else Lambert is known for is his somewhat dedicated, some might say obsessive, fan-base, many of whom refer to themselves as Glamberts. The man himself, however, is not one to rush to judgement where his followers are concerned.
“The way I look at it, it’s a case-by-case thing,” he muses. “Have I gone online and come across some stuff that freaked me out? Absolutely. It’s the same with some people after shows, but I think all fans are different. I’ve met fans that were really rad and that, you know, I’d absolutely sit down and have a drink with because they were down to earth and cool. And then, you know, I’ve also met some fans that made me a little uncomfortable. But, really, I think the bottom line is that, despite that discomfort, I know it’s coming from a place of love.
“I think one of the things that something people don’t understand is what it’s like being on the receiving end of that type of energy. One doesn’t always know how to receive it. I appreciate that I am being celebrated for what I’m contributing and that people like what I do. Before I had this career, before I had this public profile, I obviously had no experience of being treated that way and so, if I am really honest, it all still feels a little strange. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve it. Sometimes I feel like, ‘Oh, I’m not really there yet, so how about you save that for when I really hit my stride?’”
When Lambert toured Australia in 2010, his shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane earned rave reviews. He returns to our shores for a brief promotional tour later this month.
The visit that will include only one live performance at the Debit MasterCard Take 40 Live Lounge at The Standard in Sydney.
A mere 300 tickets will be made available for purchase by Debit MasterCard cardholders and the intimate gig will also feature a Q&A session before the show.
“I love Australia. I think the energy is so great down there. I love the lifestyle, I love the culture and what I experienced of it felt very liberal, very open, very accepting and tolerant. For someone like me that’s awesome. From what I’ve gathered, Australia is a culture that really understands the value in joy and peace and being able to live a life that’s satisfying,” Lambert says.
“I hate to make this generalisation, but people just seem a little happier down there! Maybe I’m wrong, but it just seems like you’ve all got a little more personal satisfaction going on and that’s a good thing. We’ll definitely come back down to play some shows. I promise we’ll be back to plug in!”