Music Interviews

Interview: Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters 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 the British Press handbook: “Rule 54: Three gay members in a band with a flamboyant dress style barely dissimilar to Jane’s Addiction, with an enigmatic singer flaunting it unashamedly at shows and larger-than-life backgrounds 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 pollute the short walk from our chicken coup of a hotel to the Academy venue. Bearded bassist and co-founder Babydaddy (Scott Hoffman) greets us and leads us to an un-glamorous dressing room beneath the stage. Drummer Paddy Boom (Patrick Seacor) is waiting in earnest, while make up-less co-singer Ana Matronic (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 in Camden, 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 hunched by the door, while Babydaddy populates the farthest corner with an intense stare, 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 much relief after we just got through it,” he recalls. “It’s been an amazing past couple of weeks just being over here and seeing how much things have changed. We’re being very cautious about it. There doesn’t seem like there’s any 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, painfully meticulous) and party animal Boom (who lived nearby) the three other Sisters converged 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 first show 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 waiting for the heart to start beating – that was exactly what it was like after 9/11. We were just waiting to hear the heartbeat start again. The crazy thing 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 what cost?

“It’s kind of annoying,” snaps Matronic. “I think that there’s been a perception in recent years that if you dress up and put on a show, your music isn’t as honest as somebody who wears their T-shirt and jeans and looks 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 David Bowie got away with it. Bowie was one ofthose people that was fantastical yet honest at the same time,” adds Babydaddy. “We are a rock band. We’ll take ‘artists’ if they wanna throw that out 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 grinning drummer. At Boom’s confirmation he let the front pews know what Jim Beam tastes like after it’s taken a trip through a human kidney, after swiping a bottle 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 female revellers he had a couch to crash on for the evening. Except he crashed there 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 almost feel there are two Scissor Sisters. There’s the studio Sisters and the Sisters on stage.”

“There always has been,” agrees Babydaddy. “I enjoy that we offer something 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 the Happy Mondays‘ Step On before Lovers In The Backseat. It’s no surprise to see invitations from Glastonbury and V2004, and earning high billing 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 this world, I just don’t know who’s doing something that’s exciting right now.”

There are some contenders, though. Franz Ferdinand, Outkast, The Rapture and N*E*R*D are mooted by Matronic and Boom. But Babydaddy remains defiant until Pixies, Bowie and The Cure crop up:

“I just want to be excited about something without doing my research,” he shrugs.

While they appear to have little faith in today’s music, or religion for that matter, they have strong beliefs in certain things: “I have faith that people 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 think there is a message behind what we do,” cuts in Babydaddy.

Matronic continues: “We all have felt individually throughout our lives like outsiders. What we ultimately speak for, and who we speak to, is the outsider. Ultimately our message is to never stop challenging yourself. Life is an enormous thing and all aspects should be explored. We as people should continue to look forward and grow, and not think that it’s all gonna end really soon and wait for our divine prize. I think our divine prize is life itself.”

Amen to that.

buy Scissor Sisters MP3s or CDs
Spotify Scissor Sisters on Spotify

More on Scissor Sisters
Scissor Sisters – Magic Hour
Scissor Sisters – Night Work
Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah
Scissor Sisters @ Trafalgar Square, London
Festival Diary: Benicassim 2006