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Jake Shears Cuts Loose

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by Michael A. Knipp

Two years ago, Scissor Sisters took your mama out all night and showed her what it's all about.

Now the ensemble—a certified global phenomenon with more that 3 million records sold worldwide—doesn't have much boogie in its boots, at least according to the first single, I Don't Feel Like Dancin', from its forthcoming CD, Ta-dah. Co-written with Sir Elton John, this lead track off the Sisters' sophomore album is a delightful, disco-esque song about staying in and feeling miserable. The irony is that it makes your body rock harder than a happy ending.

There's more where that came from, too. Ta-dah is bursting with the melancholy magic that had you hooked with the Sisters' self-titled debut. It comes out swingin' and, like a pushy sibling, won't let you go until you beg for mercy. Strident, stylish and sexual as ever, the group offers more cheap champagne on this latest release to let the good times all roll out.

In a recent interview, the group's glam frontman, Jake Shears, opens up about his sexy Sisters and the band's second offering; meeting bandmate Babydaddy for the first time; his stripper past; and rubbing elbows with John.

Michael A. Knipp: When you and bassist/keyboardist Babydaddy hit it off in Kentucky, was it a romantic sort of relationship? Did you move to New York together to make it a go as a couple?

Jake Shears: Before we met for the first time, we talked on the phone. I was thinking he could be really cute. But after we met, it wasn't like a sexy kind of thing. There was some sexual tension probably really early on. He was taking a road trip and stayed at my apartment in Seattle. But nothing ever happened. Of course, [ that was ] for the best; we might not be doing this otherwise. Now, he's like my wife. We spend more time together than anybody, and we get on remarkably well. But we definitely know how to push each other's buttons. If we're overly exhausted, we'll argue for hours over the color of a wall.

MK: When you first moved to New York, you were a stripper in gay bars. Why'd you choose that line of work? Do you regret any part of that time in your life?

JS: I danced/stripped/go-go'd because it was fun. It was a way that I could get the amount of attention I needed and perform. It was all really healthy. Do I regret anything? Absolutely not. I think I'd feel differently if I was still dancing on bars. Then I think I'd probably have a whole lot to regret.

MK: I heard you attended Elton John's 'hen' party before his wedding to David Furnish. Does being invited to events like that make you feel like you've made it?

JS: The party was a blast. It's just getting a bunch of people in a room, that's all. Love those guys. The vibe was really silly and sweet. The day I've felt like I've made it is the day I need to throw in the towel. And besides, anybody can be on a guest list.

MK: Three of the members of the band—you, Babydaddy and guitarist Del Marquis—are openly gay. Not to imply that all gay friends sleep with each other, but have you tested the waters with each other?

JS: Gross—no!

MK: Just had to ask—inquiring minds want to know. [ Laughs. ] Scissor Sisters' self-titled debut was first noticed in the U.K./Ireland. Why do you think the scene overseas was more accepting of your music at the time?

JS: Our music can get played on the radio over there. Radio stations are independently owned, whereas you have like two companies in the states going from really strict playlists. In the United Kingdom, it feels like the public has a bit more power with their music. It's the highest record-buying population per capita in the world. I think that was a factor.

MK: I know your mother is very encouraging of your passion in all you do, but how does she feel about the stripper past and the near-nudity onstage when you're performing with the Sisters, especially since she attends your concerts?

JS: My parents are incredibly supportive. My dad makes clothes for me, and they travel with me a lot. The shows aren't a big deal at all. They're pretty wholesome, I think. In certain parts of the world, it's totally family entertainment.

MK: The song Mary, off your first album, is about your deep platonic love for Mary, one of your best friends. I read that Mary passed away of a brain aneurysm in April. First, my sincere condolences on your loss. That was obviously a devastating time in your life. How'd you get through it? Will you be paying a posthumous tribute to Mary?

JS: I don't really feel like I've gotten through it. And I'm not even really sure that I've even started. I feel like I keep tricking myself that she's still around. The rest of my living days are going to be a posthumous tribute to Mary.

MK: Scissor Sisters' new album, Ta-dah, dropped Sept. 26. What can tell me about the record? What can your fans expect on your sophomore release?

JS: It's a stormer—the sound is bigger, the songs are still all juxtapositions from one another. And it's very different, but it's definitely not a departure. It's a further realization of this band that dives a bit deeper than the first record. Whether anybody likes it or not, we love it like crazy. [ We ] worked our asses off on it and stand behind it 200 percent. We took our time and are very proud of it.

MK: Thanks, Jake! The best of luck to you and the Sisters this fall.


Scissor Sisters perform at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago Sunday, Oct. 8.

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