Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears Dishes on Doing Aerobics With Jane Fonda
The Sisters are working it again! One of the best parts of livin' in the Big Apple is growing up with the truly inspiring creative denizens of downtown NYC and watching them flower into the global superstars you always knew they'd turn out to be.
It's been a thrill seeing my old buds the Scissor Sisters become worldwide sensations after their landmark self-titled debut LP rocked the world, and now they're back with one of my favorite dirty dance-pop discs of the year, the at-once grimy and glittery Night Work. I sat down with my old pal, the quintet's ingenious lead singer Jake Shears, to discuss their third offering and its unlikely literary inspiration. Read on!
UsMagazine.com: Tell Us about the inspiration behind Night Work.
Jake Shears: It started in Berlin when I was out dancing a lot. It just got me thinking about that time period of the late 70s and early 80s -- New York, and that sort of sexual revolution and the gay movement that kind of followed women's lib -- and that was the emphasis of this album. I wanted to make a party record, something you could put on at a house party and not have to take off or skip a track. Just something that could go from top to bottom and be seamless. I wanted a good mix of joy and kind of sinister quality.
Us: What song best illustrates that?
JS: "Harder You Get" is the fifth song in the record, and it's very overtly sexual and scary. It's about what happens when you go past your limits and how you might end up in a bit over your head. I always think of it sort of [the song] being inspired by American Psycho. There's still songs that have that goofy quality, like "Any Which Way" is really tongue in cheek and funny, and "Whole New Way To Love You" is very sassy and has a real kind of 'don't take yourself too seriously' attitude. ...We don't need to pander to people. I think what people want is something that's going to challenge them and pique their curiosity other than just trying to make the sort of most accessible, smiley face pop music.
Us: Lady Gaga also comes from the downtown New York club scene. What do you think of her?
JS: I just think [she's] fabulous. Lady Gaga has always cited us as a major influence and one of her favorite bands, and if we inspired her than that makes me really proud. She's opened up loads of people's minds to different styles and made so many fans that are going to discover this band who wouldn't normally necessarily have ever notices us in the first place. I've never met her, but I'm sure we inevitably will cross paths.
Us: Who else is really inspiring you in a sort of pop cultural sense?
JS: I cannot put the Oprah biography by Kitty Kelley down! Isn't it the best book you've ever read?! I love it. I've also become a friend of Jane Fonda over the last six months, it's been exciting. I spent some time with her down in Atlanta during World Fitness Day and we got to do aerobics together. She's a huge inspiration to me, like one of my saints who I've gotten to meet and get to know. Sandra Bernard has been showing up more and more in my life. We just started writing some songs together.
Us: Lastly, you and many members of the band are openly gay. Do you think that has made it harder for you to be as successful in America?
JS: It's just like, sexuality is a big part of who we are. I would never do a trade-in to have less of ourselves and more fame. It sounds like a really unpleasant, horrible person to me. I guess I don’t think it's our problem, it may be other people's problems, but it's not ours.
Us: What do you think of Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and other musicians now admitting they are bisexual or gay? It's almost the cool thing to be now.
JS: Well, I am. That’s all I can say, is I know I am. I have no problem with people being more candid about who they are sexually, so I think that the more it's out in the open, the better. So hopefully if I throw it around, maybe it will inspire somebody else to throw it around as well -- which I encourage greatly!