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Scissor Sisters 2

| February 28, 2007 | 0 Comments

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“It was basically we were making music so we could go out to a club and get onstage,” she says, marking her procession from time hosting cabarets. “We were performing onstage when we only had four songs in the can. It was something that originally was a vehicle for Jake especially, and then me to be able to go out and perform and get our rocks off onstage. Babydaddy was never interested in performing. He was always more into the studio side of things. It grew from there. It was when we got our deal with A Touch Of Class and we met our manager Neil [Harris] that a sort of switch flipped that, ‘Wow, this could really become something. We could really do something bigger than just getting onstage on a nightclub in New York or a bar top.'”

The key break came from London-based DJ Pete Tong, who played their cover of “Comfortably Numb” on air without any hint of who the band were — at least without any real idea. “We listened to it online and then Pete Tong talked about us in either Jockey Slut magazine or Mix Mag.” she recalls. “He said he didn’t know anything about us [and] heard that we were drag queens from Japan. I don’t know where he heard that,” she laughs. “That was our first exposure in the U.K.”

Coupled with the skillfully cheeky interpretation of the classic track, the British were suddenly in love with Scissor Sisters. “It Can’t Come Quickly Enough” was featured on the soundtrack to Party Monster, while “Take Your Mama,” “Laura,” and “Filthy/Gorgeous” cleaned up on the charts. Curiously at odds in all this — aside from Stateside ambiguity — was the band’s level of fondness for performing to large crowds.

The seeds of Scissor Sisters are not in industry showcases for label executives in quote/unquote dingy New York clubs, but offbeat venues for performance art.

“It was just Jake and Babydaddy at first,” Lynch says. “I met Jake on Halloween of 2000, and at that point I was hosting a cabaret show with four friends of mine that I had known in San Francisco. I had lived in New York at that point for a little over a year. I invited Jake to perform at my cabaret, and he performed a couple of times solo and then called me up and said, ‘Hey, I have this group called Scissor Sisters, it’s me and this other guy, can we come perform?’ They performed a second time, just the two of them, and about a month after that we were at a party together and they asked me to join the band. At that point, the cabaret show was over and I was looking for something new and challenging and exciting to do. I had never been in a band before so I thought it was something that would be really challenging and fun.”

The idea the band went through multiple identities before settling on Scissor Sisters is false, however. “Their very first performance together was as Scissor Sisters. There’s a popular rumor that the original name was Dead Lesbian & The Defibrillating Scissor Sisters, which was always a joke. It was never actually a name that was used in any sense. It’s always been Scissor Sisters. Their first show was at a cabaret show that I hosted in New York, and they were just Scissor Sisters at that point.”

Their ideas of performance have met their match in the stages on which they perform, to the point the Sisters have become conscious of a disconnect with their fans — a fundamental element megastars usually overlook when reaching for the brass ring. Though Scissor Sisters have little in common with the punk, DIY aesthetic confronting the typical buzz band, getting bigger (and in their case, the “biggest”) is a concern.

“It’s interesting,” Lynch says, “because it’s become a multi-faceted thing. We just played an arena tour and we had a big set and projections and a big production budget which was really exciting.” But she’s not so accepting. “It was not my ideal performance situation. I like a more intimate crowd. I like a place where you feel you can really connect with people all the way in the back where you can see the peoples’ faces.”

She’s not ungrateful, but neither is she sold on the idea everyone in attendance is a fan. “There’s definitely an aspect to an arena show that you feel as though you’re playing to people who are not devoted fans — they’re fans of the moment,” she continues. “And they want to hear the song that’s on the radio at that moment. I would rather be in a room of 2,000 people going absolutely apeshit than 12,000 people and half of them are only mildly interested. I definitely prefer a happy medium. One of our favorite places to play in the States is the Warfield in San Francisco, which I think is a really great venue to see bands and to perform. We did two nights there in September, which was great. I think about 5,000 is probably the biggest I really like to play. That’s when I really feel people can understand what you’re talking about onstage and you get that great feedback from an audience. Luckily we’ve told our lighting director to light the audience as well,” Lynch adds, “so we can see them. We’re a band that needs that back and forth from the audience. The crazier they go, the more insane we’ll go. It’s pretty important for us that the audience gets into it. If they don’t get into it, then they won’t get the best show we can deliver.”

What’s uncannily refreshing about Lynch is her deferral to her bandmates. She refers to Babydaddy as “the CEO and Jake is the president,” but her relationship to them is on equal ground and equally grounded in video games.

“Jake and Babydaddy are both huge gamers,” she says.”They were so excited to get the Xbox gig. They actually came to do a little interview leading up to the gig and all they talked about were video games. The people who interviewed them were so excited because they never interviewed a band before who was so excited about gaming.”

Nothing like being the only girl in the band. “I myself have gotten lost in a video game,” she slyly admits. “A few years ago I was living with a friend of mine who had a PS2, and she brought home ‘Kingdom Hearts.’ It’s ‘Final Fantasy’ meets Disney. And I played the game until I won it. That was about 65 hours of game time. That was a great game. If I get into a game I really get into it, so I try not to play them too often.”

This, obviously, is a band not quite content to rest on laurels, almost frighteningly driven. “I tend to get pretty — if I latch onto something new — I get obsessive with it. That’s why it’s nice to be on tour a lot. You have to get away from your obsessions. I really like origami, I folded origami for a long time, and I folded a thousand cranes for my sister for her wedding. That was a pretty obsessive project as well. We all have our own crazy obsessions like that. Paddy [Patrick Seacor, drums]’s a smoker; he’s not much of a chainsmoker, though. Jake will smoke — yeah, I’ve seen him chainsmoke.”

There’s also a wild streak to the band, thrown somewhat out of wack by Seacor, who takes what the mainstream might expect of the band’s gay-affiliated debauchery — Shears famously married himself in a mirror at the Isle Of Wight’s Bestival — and blows the doors right off.

Steve Forstneger

To find out what that wild streak is and more about Scissor Sisters, find the March issue of Illinois Entertainer, available free throughout Chicagoland.

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