Written by Jeff Katz
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Jake Shears has been touring the world with the Scissor Sisters since last fall, promoting their fantastic latest album, Night Work, and supporting Gaga on the recent leg of her Monster Ball. One would think he’d take a breather now that the tour is over, but Jake is anything but predictable. That’s because he’s now calling San Francisco his temporary home as Tales Of The City prepares for its world stage premiere! In Instinct’s May Soapbox, Jake talks about the massive task of writing a musical version of the beloved books. But now we caught up with Mr. Shears (after frustratingly being unable to access Internet porn from his Utah hotel room, go figure) and we’re finding out if this experience has sparked a new career, who introduced him to Gaga in the first place and what our favorite glam band is cooking up for the remainder of 2011.
Now that you’re in the home stretch of the musical process, has this experience sparked a new passion for you? And if so, will you try your hands at theater again?
I love musicals. I love the stage. So I’d say definitely. But honestly, my next show is going to literally be about a frog, a girl and a ball. Something simple! [Laughs] Because this has been a complex show! It’s been like a Jenga puzzle; we’ve been seeing how many bricks we can pull out and re-stack before it all falls down.
Who do you foresee being the typical theater goer for this show?
Hopefully it will introduce a new generation to the story, but it’s just a question of who goes to theater now? Theater is an interesting animal just because it’s hard to get younger people to go to the theater because it cost money. Theater is expensive. So who knows who will show up?! [Laughs] That’s the thing about theater though, it is exclusive in a way. Especially if you look at theater in New York, it is expensive to go see shows so it holds a lot of people back. But unfortunately there’s no way around that because it costs a lot of money to make.
Have you remained involved all the way through, be it rehearsals and staging, or is it like you’ve made the baby and now you wait?
Oh, no! That’s why we jumped off the Gaga tour a couple of week’s before Monster Ball was over so I could get in there and get my hands dirty with the show.
Speaking of the Lady, how was touring with Gaga?
Amazing! It was really, really fun. We were playing for the biggest crowds we’ve ever played for in America, and they’ve been so receptive.
It seems like such the perfect pairing, how did the idea come about?
We did it on our own, actually. It came out of a conversation between the two of us. She’s always been a fan of the band and has always given us a lot of credit, which is great. From her first interview in Rolling Stone, she’s always given us shout outs. We talked on the phone quite a bit, but then we met last summer when Elton [John] introduced the two of us. And she said it be really cool for us to tour together in America and I said, “Honey, we are there!”
Do you find commonality between the Sisterhood and the Little Monsters?
Yeah, it’s great because a lot of the crowd may not have known who we are but we were going out to a crowd that was already filtered and primed to be into a band like us and the music that we make. It’s always a challenge going out and playing to people that didn’t pay money to see you, but the satisfying thing was that by the end of our sets we were playing for 10,000 people who were going ape shit and giving us tons of love. Her die-hards have been so welcoming and into us and have taken the time to discover us and get into the music. I mean, you could go out there and play to a bunch of dead fish who really don’t give a fuck, but it was such the opposite. I’ve had a great time!
You guys have always had dance elements in your music, and now we’re seeing everyone go there—Britney, Katy, all of Top 40 at the moment, really. Do you think this is a bubble that’s bound to burst?
I think we’re in an extremely creative moment right now with dance music. There are technological advances that have happened in just the last few years that are pretty mind blowing. So I think what’s happening is that we’re having a real psychedelic moment in pop music right now. Yeah, there are cookie-cutter things and go-to sounds happening, but some of the production is bonkers. Tides will always turn and there will always be dance music, but things swing back and forth. I’m a through-and-through techno head, that’s all I want to listen to. [Laughs] So I think this dance moment is a good thing, although a little variety is always nice, too.
Well, that’s why we need the Scissor Sisters!
[Laughs] Right! But I don’t think there’s a single band in the Top 40 right now in the U.K. There are no bands! Which is kinda scary; it’s a little bit unnerving. But I think we serve up a ton of different stuff. And it’s funny, playing the [Gaga] shows, these people had in their head’s that we were a rock band. I don’t know how you categorize us, I think we’ve got a little bit of everything and can be interpreted a lot of different ways.
So, after opening night of the musical are you taking a well-deserved break or is it back to the band?
[Laughs] This fucking train ain’t stopping. Scissor Sisters are actually making more music now, we’re gonna fucking break on through to the other side. Our goal, really, is to have more music out by the end of this year.
Check out Jake’s Soapbox in Instinct’s new May issue—or because we’re super cool, you can always read it here! For more on Tales Of The City, visit act-sf.org.