Jake Shears pleasuring a microphone (Photo: Karen McBride)
|What can we say about the Scissor Sisters that hasn’t been said already?If they had an office, the pigeonholes outside would have to carry acrossfive floors to file the obscene hype.|
Legible quote from a burnt copy of theBritish Press handbook: “Rule 54: Three gay members in a band with aflamboyant dress style barely dissimilar to Jane’s Addiction, with anenigmatic singer flaunting it unashamedly at shows and larger-than-lifebackgrounds from New York = easy copy for us lazy hacks.”
Firmly brushing this aside, musicOMH gets beneath the fedoras and boas…
It’s a blustery Sunday afternoon in Manchester. Dangerous puddles pollutethe short walk from our chicken coop of a hotel to the Academy venue.Bearded bassist and co-founder Babydaddy (Scott Hoffman) greets us and leadsus to an un-glamorous dressing room beneath the stage. Drummer Paddy Boom(Patrick Seacor) is waiting in earnest, while makeup-less co-singer AnaMatronic (Ana Lynch) slips in.
Coffee is high on the agenda after a 22-hour blitz of London yesterday.Aside from two recordings for CD:UK and a “rotten” DJ set at the Barfly inCamden, there was a sold-out gig followed by a comfortably “dumb” performance at G*A*Y afterwards, where the band were kitted out as characters from the Wizard Of Oz.
Matronic appears mildly hungover, Boom sits hunchedby the door, while Babydaddy populates the farthest corner with an intensestare, adjusting only to give his head a scratch and face a wipe.
“We were just waiting to hear the heartbeat start again. The crazything which cannot be conveyed is it changed the smell of the city.” – Scissor Sisters on how 9/11 affected their home city of New York.
“There was so much pressure on these London shows and there was so muchrelief after we just got through it,” he recalls. “It’s been an amazing pastcouple of weeks just being over here and seeing how much things havechanged. We’re being very cautious about it. There doesn’t seem like there’sany end to the hype and the offers for bigger shows. I just don’t wanna overdo it right now.”
Except for New York native Del Marquis (Derek Gruen, guitar, painfullymeticulous) and party animal Boom (who lived nearby) the three other Sistersconverged on the city before eventually hooking up.
“It’s the place for ambition, and it’s just the highest mark in mostareas,” explains Babydaddy, the “rock” of the group, as his bandmates notefondly.
Matronic, a loud, self-proclaimed “secular humanist” recalls their firstshow 10 days after 9/11:
“Do you ever see ER where they bring in the person that is dying and theyget out the defibrillator kit? There’s that moment where everyone is waitingfor the heart to start beating – that was exactly what it was like after9/11. We were just waiting to hear the heartbeat start again. The crazything which cannot be conveyed is it changed the smell of the city.”
“I remember going to these clubs where every level was like a freak show.It was so intimate but special,” muses Boom.
Nearly three years later the dues are starting to pay. But at whatcost?
“It’s kind of annoying,” snaps Matronic. “I think that there’s been aperception in recent years that if you dress up and put on a show, yourmusic isn’t as honest as somebody who wears their T-shirt and jeans andlooks at their feet. We would definitely like to challenge that notion.”
“… There’s been a perception… that if you dress up and put on a show, your music isn’t as honest…” – Scissor Sisters counter claims that they are any less “rock” than the T-shirt and jeans brigade.
“I think an artist like Bowie got away with it. Bowie was one ofthose people that was fantastical yet honest at the same time,” addsBabydaddy. “We are a rock band. We’ll take ‘artists’ if they wanna throw thatout there, but ‘artist’ is something that’s a little bit too pretentious.”
“It was always the idea in our head that this was a rock ‘n’ roll band.Even before we were a full band, the vision was drummer, guitar player, bassplayer.”
When the word debauchery is raised, attention turns to the grinningdrummer. At Boom’s confirmation he let the front pews know what Jim Beamtastes like after it’s taken a trip through a human kidney, after swiping abottle from home the night before. More recently, and holding true to rock’n’ roll lore that “the drummer is the nutter”, Boom motorcycled from NewYork to Rio (oh yes). It took five days, and upon meeting two femalerevellers he had a couch to crash on for the evening. Except he crashedthere for five months…
Aside from partying, the Sisters are determined to bring their music toas many as possible, as yesterday’s itinerary shows.
“We’re an even better band because we’ve been playing so much live,” declares Matronic. “I almostfeel there are two Scissor Sisters. There’s the studio Sisters and theSisters onstage.”
“There always has been,” agrees Babydaddy. “I enjoy that we offersomething different live to what is on the record.”
And how they do. While London was treated to confetti and giant balloons(easily pleased, us Cockneys), a spectacular rock-rave awaited Manchester.You name it, they were there: fashionista, skate kids, goths, mums and dads,not to mention Hacienda veterans who were treated to the opening bars of theHappy Mondays‘ Step On before Lovers In The Backseat. It’s nosurprise to see invitations from Glastonbury and V2004, while earning highbilling at Homelands.
“What we ultimately speak for, and who we speak to, is theoutsider.” – Scissor Sisters define their target demographic.
“I think as far as the album is concerned, there isn’t too much like it,”mulls Babydaddy. “I think there’s room for a million great albums in thisworld, I just don’t know who’s doing something that’s exciting rightnow.”
“I just want to be excited about something without doingmy research,” he shrugs.
While they appear to have little faith in today’s music or religion forthat matter, they have strong beliefs in certain things: “I have faith thatpeople are essentially good. I think that human nature is essentially good,”says Matronic.
“I have faith that we’re bringing a certain positivity to music. I thinkthere is a message behind what we do,” cuts in Babydaddy.
Matronic continues: “We all have felt individually throughout our liveslike outsiders. What we ultimately speak for, and who we speak to, is theoutsider. Ultimately our message is to never stop challenging yourself.”
“Life is an enormous thing and all aspects should be explored. We aspeople should continue to look forward and grow, and not think that it’s allgonna end really soon and wait for our divine prize. I think our divineprize is life itself.”
Amen to that.
Related articles on Scissor Sisters
Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour
Scissor Sisters – Night Work
Scissor Sisters @ Brixton Academy, London
By Jamil Ahmad | 27 October 2005