Larger Than Life
New York has long been the worldâ€™s epicenter, wielding substantial influence upon global finance, media, art, fashion, entertainment and music. As the centre of jazz with Tin Pan Alley during the 1940s, New York has also spawned disco in the 1970s and hip hop in the 1980s. Rich in society and customs and a melting pot of ethnicity, New York is also the centre of the modern gay rights movement, with Stonewall Inn the site of the infamous riots of 1969. The Big Apple is home to a rich texture of humanity and it is no wonder that a band would seek out to represent all that New York personifies: that outrageous glamour, a sassy wit that shocks and doesnâ€™t hold back, and a bopping strut that takes disco, pop and rock to a whole new level. That band is Scissor Sisters.
Glam pop icons, lyrically sassy and at times downright tacky while accepting of all creeds and colour, the five-piece ban have created quite the stir. Since 2001, when powerhouse vocalist Jake Shears and Babydaddy chose to work together, enlisting the efforts of comedic songbird Ana Matronic, Del Marquis on lead guitar/ bass and Randy Real on drums, Scissor Sisters have taken over the world.
The Scissor Sistersâ€™ story starts out as The Fibrillating Scissor Sisters, with Shears and Babydaddy joining musical forces. Initially meeting in their home town of Lexington, Kentucky, the two southern gentlemen moved to The Big Apple to be inspired by the melting pot and gay philosophy of New York. With Babydaddy composing the songs, Shears supplying the lyrics and their onstage performances including a variety of inappropriate characters, the duo would gain quite the reputation.
â€œWe did come together with some basic ideas about what we wanted it to be,â€ Babydaddy reminisces. â€œWe wanted to play some great music to our friends in the beginning. We were trying to perform and to entertain our friends â€“ thatâ€™s what it was all about in the beginning. We wanted to do something that was larger than life. We wanted to make something that was bigger than the tiny clubs we were playing in. The message was all around us at that time. It was a very gay, freaky, weird, interesting crowd we were around. And we wanted to speak to those people.â€
It was a chance encounter at Disneyland that saw the Fibrillating Scissor Sisters find their sassy soul. Shears and Babydaddy were immediately captured by the presence of Ana Matronic. As the promoter for the saucy cabaret event â€˜Knock Offâ€™ at The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side, Ana invited Scissor Sisters to perform where she also joined them onstage. A remnant from Shearsâ€™ days as a stripper, Del Marquis came onboard with lead guitar and bass, eventually followed by Paddy Boom on drums. Fibrillating was dropped, and Scissor Sisters â€“ named for the sexual position of tribadism between two women â€“ was in full swing.
In 2002, Scissor Sisters were signed to NY label A Touch of Class for a two single deal. Side A featured â€˜Electrobixâ€™, while Side B featured a cover version of Pink Floydâ€™s â€˜Comfortably Numbâ€™. Surprisingly, it was Side B that would propel Scissor Sisters to success, with Pink Floydâ€™s Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour sealing their approval of the song. UK label Polydor signed the band to a contract with the success of the single, which propelled the release of their self-titled 2004 debut studio album. The record hit the mark as the best selling album of 2004 in The UK and won Best International Album at the 2005 Brit Awards. In 2006, their second album, â€˜Ta-Dahâ€™, was released; Elton John was welcomed onboard to collaborate on a few tracks, particularly â€˜I Donâ€™t Feel Like Dancinâ€™ which reached the number one spot in The UK, Canada and Australia.
Of their live performances, Babydaddy comments that: â€œlive music for us is all about the energy. Iâ€™m spoiled - I get to be lazy and let the two front people do most of the work. Iâ€™ve seen and felt the power and the energy that connecting to an audience can do â€“ Ana and Jake cover that really well. That connection is there with us, no matter what size venue weâ€™re playing. Not many bands have anyone like Jake - the way he sings and runs around the stage like he does. But fewer bands have someone like Ana who is there to please the crowd with her wit. Sheâ€™s a comedian and just a great all round performer.â€
In 2007, the band returned to the studio, though they made the decision to shelve the material while drummer Paddy Boom made way for Randy Real. More studio time was invested over the ensuring years, with their third album, â€˜Night Workâ€™, finally released last year. Produced in conjunction with Stuart Price â€“ famed producer for Madonna â€“ â€˜Night Workâ€™ was an opus of hedonism and sleaze, precisely what Scissor Sisters have come to symbolise so well.
â€œInspiration comes from a lot of places,â€ Babydaddy muses. â€œI think a lot of time it comes from the energy of having someone in the room, whether itâ€™s Ana that weâ€™re working with, a new producer or a friend of ours writing music. A lot of those things inspire us. Inspiration could mean anything from a track we hear to a line in a book we read or a moment in a film we want to catch the vibe of.
â€œI donâ€™t know if any band feels if theyâ€™ve accomplished or reached the point where they donâ€™t have to worry about anything anymore. Even someone like Elton John â€” you think heâ€™s lived the richest career of any musician thatâ€™s alive â€” and he still fights to have an album that means something; still fights to have the biggest shows ever.
â€œWe want to be a band comfortable with the size venues we play all over the world. Great venues in Australia, England, a lot of Europe â€“ America is a small audience for us strangely enough; and there are countries weâ€™ve never been to before. Those are our goals â€” to expand our fan base. We want to make it accessible. We want a legacy. Right now we have a few albums weâ€™re really proud of. But a few albums is not a full band history. To some people, itâ€™s an inconsequential dance act â€” and thatâ€™s my worst nightmare for people to think about us that way; that weâ€™re just a gay band. My legacy would be someone who made music and connected with people. I want people to know weâ€™ve gone through a whole evolution.â€
The evolution of Scissor Sisters will reach Australia for Summafieldayze in January.
â€œWeâ€™re overdue for a trip,â€ Babydaddy claims. â€œItâ€™s been way too long. I love the people. Weâ€™re just going to have a good time. Weâ€™re coming close to releasing a new record â€” but I have no idea if weâ€™re going to be ready with new music. Itâ€™s going to be a goal,â€ Babydaddy promises, â€œbut weâ€™re going to come forward with a lot of energy.â€
Scissor Sisters, alongside Justice, Pendulum and Snoop Dogg, headline Summafieldayze, at The Spit, Gold Coast, January 2. summafieldayze.com