Jonathan Higbee's picture

Cover Guy: Adam Lambert

Life’s good for Adam Lambert. The Grammy nominee remains one of the top-selling contestants from American Idol’s varied and lengthy roster. His fan base, affectionately appointed with the “Glamberts” nickname, is well known for its devotion. His résumé is solid and on par with the cherished divas regularly deified by the gayborhood. Yet inexplicably, gay men haven’t exactly rushed to celebrate one of our most visible international representations with the same fervor given to Lambert’s female contemporaries. With Trespassing set to broadcast a groundbreaking gay male perspective on global radio waves, Lambert connects with his heart like never before and hopes that, in turn, his music will connect with his community.

The outspoken entertainer, one of very few openly gay recording artists signed to a major American label, didn’t shy away from discussing what he sees as the elusive gay demographic early on and without prompting when he sat down to chat with Instinct.

“As a community, we’re a little bit resistant to a gay male pop star ourselves,” Lambert says. He’s confident. His delivery indicates he’s spent time thinking about the topic. “It’s very easy for people to look at my origin, which is American Idol, and automatically assume that I’m a commercial sellout or a puppet or a flash in the pan. I don’t think I’m any of those things.”

A laugh, marinated in tension, inspires him to get a little more personal.

“There’s something weird there. We’re very eager to celebrate a strong female.

But to celebrate a fellow gay man—it gets catty sometimes.”

Lambert has always marched to his own 808 drum beat, but for Trespassing he moves beyond his pop-rock debut, For Your Entertainment, to join these celebrated “strong females” on the dance floor. His evolutionary journey toward a gay-friendlier club sound is not an engineered tactic drafted by a marketing team or focus groups held in Chelsea or WeHo. It’s authentically Adam.

“This is the kind of music I listen to. I know the style of vocal I have is kind of big. It has a certain edge to it. I’ve always loved rock, but I also love stuff that is more groove-based, more funky, more soulful, more dance music.”

His passion for the genre is apparent the moment the four-on-the-floor drum loop of his new track, “Cuckoo,” meets his unmistakable vocals. With a taste of what some are hailing as the “new era of Adam Lambert” lingering, that ’90s bumper-sticker adage of electronic music opponents, “Drum machines have no soul,” is ripped to shreds. The singer’s soaring tenor nimbly breathes new life into dance-pop, a niche too often bastardized by a manufactured and Auto-Tuned sound. The magic doesn’t skip a beat with other offerings like “Chokehold,” “Never Close Our Eyes” featuring Bruno Mars, and “Trespassing,” the titular single produced by a celebrated artist from the exclusive one-name-only club, Pharrell. Here, on Trespassing, drum machines do have soul. And the other genres that once remained distinct forms, like funk and rock—which Lambert has also married in blissful matrimony with club music—do too.

Read the rest of our cover story with Adam in the May Issue of Instinct—out now on newsstands and available for order by calling 888-454-6784.

PHOTO: Jeff Kravitz