Lance Horne performing at Lincoln Center.
What do you get when you add Alan Cumming, Alice Ripley and Rachel Dratch on stage with Emmy Award-winning composer, musician, vocalist and producer Lance Horne? If you’re in New York City on March 31st, you can find out.
Horne will be performing songs from his acclaimed CD First Things Last at NY hot spot, Birdland (his debut at the venue) with help from Cumming, Ripley and Dratch, who all appear on the CD along with Cheyenne Jackson, Ricki Lake, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Meow Meow and Lea DeLaria. On the same night, Horne will also provide a preview to The Night Before My Wedding, his upcoming collaboration with Neil Gaiman.
And, if you’re not in New York, Horne also has upcoming dates in San Francisco (with the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, March 25-26) and Los Angeles (at The Rockwell April 15th).
TheBacklot recently talked to Horne about the music selections on the CD, men singing romantic songs to other men, working with performers like Meow Meow and Courtney Act as well as what he looks for in a date.
TheBacklot: How challenging is it for you just to pick the songs for your show or for a CD?
Lance Horne: It is a challenge. Somehow everything does line up, make plans and things just happen the way they’re supposed to happen. For example, Steven Wallem (Nurse Jackie) and I have been talking forever about wanting to do something. Now he’s hopping onboard and doing this one song that’s hilarious and we haven’t really premiered it before. It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t Steven and me talking on Twitter and figuring out that we really needed to do something.
There are songs that Daphne and I have done that we’ve never released and we’re going to do some of those in the concert as well. The way that albums come together is just an anomaly. I’ve produced a lot of albums and this one of my own is obviously dear to me. I basically asked all of the people I loved if they would be up for doing a song and they all said yes. So, we started recording it across London and New York and Boston and LA and it all came together. It was all recorded in a matter of 12 days, which is wild, in all four cities.
What’s your goal with your music, whether it’s just to make people feel good or to send a message?
LH: I guess the overall goal is to spread the love, honestly. There are so many amazing people and so many amazing times in the world and then there are so many difficult things and so many hardships. For 70 minutes we can make a sand castle. That’s what I call it. So to make the best possible sand castle where we can all just be in one room, experience something together, hopefully have a laugh, be a little bit moved and change the way that we perceive the world when we’re on the outside of that room. It might seem lost to you but I think that you can really ground when you’re in a live performance venue, places like Birdland and the Rockwell really allow for the sense of a community. That’s one of the reasons that I’ve really chosen those two places for this round of performances.
So sounds like you prefer a more intimate place to a larger venue.
LH: When you go to see a big Broadway show…there is this kind of larger expectation for the 100 dollar ticket. But when you go to see something that’s 25, 30 bucks in a smaller venue, a lot of people are there to experience something or to take a risk or just to see what’s out there. That’s a really different audience to get to perform for. It’s a really rewarding experience as a writer and performer to be in that kind of venue.
I want to ask about some of the songs on the CD and maybe just because I’m a gay man but there’s something about hearing men singing romantic songs or singing something that typically is identified as a woman’s song…it just makes me giddy if you know what I mean?
LH: It does, by all means. Alan [Cumming] and I on his album, which we did together, Alan does “What More Can I Say?” We do that in concert and Alan brings up the fact that there just aren’t enough love songs to men from men considering the disproportionate amount of men who love men who are in the entertainment industry. It’s an odd unbalance.
“Strange Bird” is a love song to many people I love and a whole lot of those people are men, that’s for sure. And Cheyenne…it’s really hard to imagine not loving Cheyenne– especially the way he does that song. We’ve know each other for years and there’s just so much history on the album and in that song in particular and also in “American.” Alan really inhabits something brilliant when he goes inside of a character of a song.
Good times with Horne and pals Ricki Lake and Cheyenne Jackson.
Tell me about the “Tyler’s Suite” movement and Tyler Clementi. I know that has a personal importance to you.
LH: It does. We’re premiering it with San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on March 25th and 26th. I know Tyler’s mom, I met the family at an event that a mutual friend was presenting. David Mixner is an amazing member of our community and connector and the family wanted to create a piece using Tyler’s violin and a choir. So, a group of us put together a night involving the world and words of Tyler into a libretto with movements by Stephen Schwartz, John Bucchino, Craig Carnelia, Anne Hampton Callaway, John Corigliano, Jake Heggie…it’s just an amazing group of people and everybody wrote one song. So, it will premiere next week with the Choir.
From what I’ve seen with your work, you’re very high on collaborating where some artists like to do their own thing, right?
LH: I definitely am. I think collaborating really is the heart of growth as an artist. I think that it’s great to go into the dark part of the soul. I really think that when you get to work with some really talented people they’re going to see the world differently than you and then you get to grow as you create. I have learned just as much from being on stage accompanying some of the best people around as I did studying in my ivory tower at Julliard. I wouldn’t trade either experience but I really do value collaboration.
I have a feeling some people will be interested in your dating status. Single? Dating? Off the market?
LH: Oh, I’m single. I’m open to anything really.
Do you generally date people in your same profession? I know that can be a plus or a minus, depending on how you look at it.
Alan Cumming sings on stage with Horne and also on Horne’s new album.
LH: I have dated one person in my profession and we are still close, an amazing choreographer (Tiger Martina). We will be working together with Meow Meow and we created Vegas The Show together that is running at Planet Hollywood. Besides that, I’ve not dated inside the industry [but] there are pluses and minuses. We tour around so much. It’s nice to be with someone who understands the give and take of the performing arts. It’s also nice to be with someone who sees the world in a different way than a performing artist sees the world and learn from that. I have had nothing but rewarding relationships, so I know that whoever lands next to me next and whoever decides to come along for the ride will be wonderful. I’ve never had anything but wonderful people.
I’m also working with Courtney Act right now, too. We will be in New York March 28 to 30, just before and Courtney will be there on the 31st. We just performed at Mardi Gras in Sydney with Chaz Bono and I got to arrange “I Got You Babe” for Courtney and Chaz. So, my little gay head exploded.
I can see why!
LH: It’s everything you would have imagined and more. I worked with Courtney, we met on an Atlantis cruise where Alan and I were performing and wanted to work together on things and then Courtney ended up on RuPaul’s Drag Race this season. And now Courtney is totally kicking ass on Drag Race. So, we get to share this lovely show all about gender fluidity and being in and out of drag and falling in and out of love with people who are attracted to different sexes and different genders, different sexualities. It’s a whole kaleidoscope, which is one of Courtney’s new songs. It’s a beautiful, beautiful show and I love that I get to sing backup and that I’ve done the arrangements on it and play with Courtney. We’ll be taking it around, definitely, throughout the summer.
Do you adjust that for your show at all depending on where you’re at, even LA versus New York.
LH: I love the audience. I mean I think that the audience in these kinds of events are there to support sometimes and sometimes to learn and sometimes they’re just there for a good time. I think a lot of these performers that I get to work with know and I’ve learned so much working with Alan for instance who somehow slightly tailors himself from moment to moment based on the temperature of the room. I think there is a tendency for the room temperature to be one way or another in different cities but it’s always a surprise. To date, one of the best gigs ever was with Alan in a basement in Brisbane. So, I just go into each one of them and am an eternal optimist, just hoping the audience is ready to go. If not, hoping we can reach somebody in an unexpected way if that makes sense.