Fresh from flying in via helicopter, Adam Lambert sat down with Sarah Champion to talk about fronting Queen, and finding the balance between solo work and touring with the band.
TRANSCRIPT by Jen Tunney:
SARAH CHAMPION for Absolute Radio. We are backstage at the Isle of Wight Festival where Queen are headlining this evening. Adam Lambert has just arrived.
ADAM LAMBERT: Hi.
SARAH: Helicopter chic
ADAM: Yes that’s my look. It’s a bit of a rock n roll paratrooper.
SARAH: You flew in by chopper.
SARAH: Which is super James Bond.
ADAM: Yeah. It was the biggest helicopter – I’ve only been in a couple of helicopters in my entire life – but this was the biggest one by far. I’ve never even seen one this big.
SARAH: How was it seeing the isle, coming down.
ADAM: It was beautiful. You know, I’ve never been to the island before and it’s stunning. It’s really beautiful. The sun was shining. We went right over a castle – in a field. It felt very cool.
SARAH: The magic has started already.
ADAM: Yeah, and it’s gonna continue on.
SARAH: So this is a big one for you, isn’t it?
ADAM: Yeah. This is basically the centre piece of the tour that we’re on right now. When we found out that we were gonna be a part of the festival we got very excited and want to to put in some other dates elsewhere, but this what it’s all for.
SARAH: Yeah, absolutely, and I mean, I’m so excited for you.
ADAM: Thank you.
SARAH: I’m guessing, it might take the crowd maybe maybe two songs to warm up to you as front man?
ADAM: It’s interesting. We’ve been doing this now for about four years. I think when I started I was apprehensive about the whole thing. I didn’t know if I’d be accepted. I didn’t know how the fans would accept somebody new sing these song. How long would it take. How – which songs would it take. We’ve now done a lot of travelling and we’re a very very tight family on stage and I think that we’ve kind of cracked the code. The set list sequence is kind of very thought out for that reason and I think the audience is gonna love it.
SARAH: Are you gonna hit the ground running?
ADAM: Oh yeah. There’s no other option. It’s Queen. You gotta like BAMM…. Gotta hit them over the head.
SARAH: So listen, obviously Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest showmen of all time. Have yo now found that balance between paying respect to that but also bringing Adam Lambert to Queen.
ADAM: That was my big mission when we started four years ago, and that’s what I didn’t know about. That was the most nerve-racking part about all of this. Can I do these songs? Can I pull it off? And I think, I think when we started four years ago we figured it out and luckily fans were very receptive, critics were receptive and so now it’s exciting ‘cos I get to go on stage out of pure joy. I don’t feel the nerves now. I feel excited every night to connect with whatever audience we have in front of us and you give ‘em a show. It’s all about bringing these songs back to life, paying respect to Freddie, who was incredible, was an incredible writer, a vocalist, a performer. I think the thing that I’ve realised is that I’m just like everybody in the audience, so we’re in the same boat, really. We’re getting to celebrate together.
SARAH: And for those people, by the way, who don’t know this all came to be, how you came to be front man of Queen, it’s actually a lovely story, and it happened in quite an organic way. Can you summarize the [moment?] that it happened?
ADAM: Yeah. I was on a show, American Idol, I was the runner-up. This was about seven years ago – oh my God – six years ago, something like that, and I sang Bohemian Rhapsody as my audition and they received a bunch of calls I guess after my audition, and people saying ‘Hey, you have to check this guy out’. They were then asked to perform in the finale ‘We Are The Champions’ and I got to sing with them and I met Brian and Roger for the first time and it was just a really nice genuine connection right away. We felt something. I put out my first solo album and after that had some time and we did a couple of gigs, then we did a couple more, and then I put out another album of my own, and then we did more gigs, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world ’cos I get to do both parts of my career. My solo career doing current pop/dance music about my life, kind of looking forward, and then I get to moonlight with Queen, who are one of the greatest rock bands of all time, get to sing some of the greatest music ever written for fans that are obsessed with this band. So I – both sides of my artist are very satisfied.
SARAH: Pinch me. Is this actually happening?
ADAM: All the… today, landing in the helicopter, i was like ‘This was not real life… it’s a fantasy’.
SARAH: Enjoy every second of it. I know we will. Have a great set.
ADAM: Thank you.
Adam Lambert talks fronting Queen at the Isle of Wight Festival 2016