Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An interview with the Scissor Sisters

The Scissor Sisters fourth album, Magic Hour, is out this week and bloody good it is, too. I did a big set-piece BBC interview with them last week but, as is often the way, I had to leave out all the fun bits about parties and swearing and willies.

So here is the other half of the interview with Jake Shears and Baby Daddy, who were quite simply awesome.

One of the stand-out tracks on this record is Let's Have A Kiki - which I understand is a specifically debauched Scissor Sisters party. What's the best Kiki you’ve ever thrown?

Jake: Last year, I threw a Monkey Island party. I only sent out the invites the morning of the party but hundreds of people showed up. I had smoke machines and lasers going and it was one of the best parties New York has probably seen in a long, long time. It had the weirdest line-up of strange celebs and porn stars and downtown people and musicians. And then we got raided by the police. It was about 20 officers in my house, videotaping everything. But when they showed up everyone thought they were strippers.

It was absolutely bonkers. We had about 70 people hiding in my bedroom, all in the walk-in closet, going “shhhh!” The police busted in there, and got everyone out. Then they found Ana hiding under some coats in the closet. They literally marched back in and dragged her out by her heels.

Apparently down in the street – and I live in Tribeca, which is quite refined – everyone started throwing eggs at people.

That was an astounding kiki. We got the best pictures.

You worked with Amanda Ghost (Beyonce, Shakira, James Blunt) on this record. What was that like?

Baby Daddy: She was just the kind of thing we needed. We’re four albums in. We’ve tried a lot of things. We knew we had to get something out – and we didn’t want to toil over something for a year.

Jake: She organised everything. “You’re writing on these weeks, you’re collaborating with these people”.

So she was like a wedding planner for the album?

Jake: She was amazing. This album would not have been made at such a speed without her.

Baby Daddy: Part of that speed was just taking time away. Giving us a week off. The way we usually work is we just go and go and go.

Jake: She’s also a really hard set of ears. Totally merciless.

Baby Daddy: She would just say to us ‘these songs suck’.

Jake: But what I’ve discovered over the years is that, when you’re making an album, you’ve got to have people who are great sounding boards.

Wikipedia constantly refers to the band as Glam Rock. Where do you think that comes from?

Baby Daddy: We could put out an album of nothing but R&B songs and people would call it 70s influenced. We’re a 70s band in some people’s mind and we always will be because we love David Bowie and some of the first album referenced that.

Jake: But this album is very contemporary.

Jake, your mum came up with the title Magic Hour - but why did you like it so much?

Jake: Well, I was in Ibiza in August and Only The Horses was the only song we’d written. I had the demo for it and I was with some of my DJ friends. We’d been up all night and the sun was just about to come up and I played Horses for them. I’ve got pictures of the moment. It was that magic hour, the sun was about to come up, there were no shadows. I had the time of my life that night. I played that song for the first time, and that embodies what I feel about this album.

Is that still your favourite time of day?

Jake: Absolutely. I’m a morning person - but in that way.

On Shady Love there’s a line, “she’s going to vote for Obama”. What did you think of his statement on gay marriage?

Jake: It was exciting. It was fine. I feel mixed about it.

Does it seems odd that gay marriage is going to be the major theme of the election campaign?

Jake: Can you imagine if everybody put all their energy into something that actually mattered? I mean, of course gay marriage matters, but it shouldn’t be an issue.

The thing about his statement that I thought was so ridiculous was that he said ‘gays should have the freedom to marry one another although I support the state’s individual decisions to ban it if they feel like it’. What does that mean?

I guess he has to be very careful with the divide between federal and state law?

Baby Daddy: Especially in an election year.

Jake: But if you took this argument and changed gay marriage for inter-racial marriage, it sounds completely insane. I really don’t think Obama went all the way.

Do you vote in the US?

Jake: Totally. And I’ll be voting for Obama.

Talking of marriage [amazing segue alert] tell me about the fan who proposed to his girlfriend at your gig...

Baby Daddy: It was really sweet. This fan of ours with the whole band tattooed on his back.

Jake: He passed Ana a note at the beginning of the show, then at the end she brought him up.

Baby Daddy: I didn’t even know what the note had said.

If you were the girl, would you have said ‘yes’?

Baby Daddy: I can’t imagine saying ‘no’ at that stage!

Jake: I was really nervous for him myself.

When was the last time you were nervous with the band?

Jake: Last night, I got pulled out of the venue at seven o’clock to do an interview on the news about Donna Summer. Jon Snow interviewed me. It was so scary. Just to go on live TV. It was one of those moments. I just thought, ‘if I say something backwards or if I sneeze and end up with a booger on my finger’ those moments never go away. There’s the opportunity for career suicide.

I went on TV earlier this year without noticing a huge toothpaste stain on my shirt...

Jake: I just did The Voice with my fly unzipped! At the end of us singing, I looked down and noticed my trousers were wide open.

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