Ever since Loverboy first came into realisation, Jake Shears has been in our top five people to talk to – and now it seems the universe is finally in alignment. With the release of his solo album, Jake Shears, we set him up in New York, with our photographer Benjy Russell & stylist Amber Rose, to get intergalactic and accosted by our alien for the day, Gage Boone.
Michael Turnbull sits down with Jake in his spiritual home of New Orleans to discuss getting your balls out onstage, being over sex & nudity and how it’s time to bring everyone together through music…
So I have to confess, New Orleans was one of my worst holidays…ever.
Haha…Was it pouring the whole time? Every day is an adventure in New Orleans. You can be getting your haircut, then walk out and be like, ‘Ok, now how am I going to get home in thigh-high water?!’
But I was at a crossroads in my life, with nowhere to be, so I just got a ticket and left. That’s something I have to do every couple of years.
How has New Orleans influenced your album?
There’s definitely a Southern influence to it. For lack of a better word it’s a contemporary southern rock’n’roll album. I’ve always enjoyed dusty, upright pianos, a little bit of clarinet, it’s very theatrical. It was such a pleasure to write because this is the least amount of pressure I’ve had since writing the first Scissors’ album. I made it out of my own pocket, I don’t have a record deal and I just got to make exactly what I wanted, without anyone looking over my shoulder. I have total faith in it because I know it’s really good, but I’ve got no one to blame but myself if it’s not. It’s my dream record…
Talking of musicals, I just read that you turned one of my favourite books into a musical – Tales of the City! I need to see it!
Yes, I worked on that show for a long time. I’ve been thinking about that show a lot lately. I did a concert of it on Broadway last year. It was really special.
Were you tempted to be in the show back then?
No, I never considered being in a musical til Kinky Boots. I never considered myself an actor, so I had a lot to learn. But now I feel I have so many more skills in that department, I would definitely be open to writing theatrical projects for myself.
Who have you been listening to while making this album?
The big stuff like Odessa by The Bee Gees, Transformer by Lou Reed but God, that’s a tough question. I’ve been discovering John Lennon’s cannon too – I’ve always been a bigger McCartney fan.
I’ve kind of unplugged from newer music. Queens of the Stone Age are a huge influence on me. There’s a song on this album that I wrote to Josh. Beck’s latest album Colors is an incredible record. His album Morning Phase is still a massive album I listen to. You can definitely hear some homages to that on this record.
What is your favourite song on the album?
Right now, it’s called ‘Mississippi Delta, I’m your Man.’ It was the last song I wrote for the record and it’s the last song on the record. I wrote it with Mr Hudson who is a really good friend of mine. It really sums up the past fifteen years, where I’ve been, finding Louisiana and that transformative moment of my life. It really came from my heart. It’s hard not to get weepy when I’m onstage sometimes, it’s embarrassing.
Is this a party album?
Yes. I mean all the albums I have made have been party albums to a degree. This one is definitely made for good times but there’s also a darker, more emotional side to it.
You’re friends with Casey Spooner who has just released Sir, which he calls ‘aggressively homosexual.’ I felt you did that with Night Work but I know you’ve called your new album, ‘music is for everyone.’ Bearing in mind the current political climate, is now the time to bring people together through music or be rebellious?
I think there’s space for both and I think both are absolutely necessary. I love what Casey did with this record and I just think you have to listen to what your gut is telling you to do. Night Work was that moment for me. It wasn’t exactly me sticking my middle finger up, but it was very much about sexuality and being unapologetic.
At this moment in time I feel called to bring people together. I’ve made this album for everybody and I think we could use a little bit of unity in general.
Gay pop is not as flamboyant as when the Scissor Sisters were around.
It’s about to be! I’m so excited to just get out there and do my thing. I feel like no one is making music like this right now. This whole album was made live and recorded on tape. I like to tell myself song craftsmanship and production matter. It’s very unique and sounds very different to what I hear being made today.
Scissor Sisters always seemed to have a bigger audience in the UK than stateside. Where do you see this album sitting?
There’s a degree of truth to that narrative, but I just felt it kept being perpetuated by the press. The last Scissors’ album felt bigger in the US than in the UK in terms of ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’. So to me it all balanced out in the end.
I hope this record will appeal to people all over the world but I have no idea. The UK’s been a core space for my music. I started things rolling there, doing my first TV performance. It’s a good place to start but I just want to take it everywhere, tour as much as possible. I want to work my ass off.
Do you have plans for the tour already?
Yes! I’ve got a crackerjack band. I feel like there’s a lot of dressing down right now in music and I’m ready to just look like a maniac. I just performed on Graham Norton and it just made me really happy to dress up again.
I also watched an old interview of you guys on Alan Carr, where you discussed your balls hanging out on stage. Is this still happening?
I’m pushing forty now, babes.
They’re hanging a little lower?
Ha! Well, actually I feel now we are so totally saturated with sex, body, skin and image that it doesn’t interest me like it used to. But who knows? Flash forward six months and I could be running round with a blade of grass tied around my dick. Who knows?
Speaking of onstage extravagance. What was it like hanging out with Pete Burns?
Oh, he was great. I love that man. He was one of a kind. He was really kind, wild, crazy, talented and brilliant. There are definitely a couple of anecdotes about Pete in my book that are super-funny. There were a couple of little brawls that he got involved in when I was with him.
Back in the days of The Cock & The Ghetto. The world is a more PC place these days. Would Scissor Sisters still get away with that name?
I don’t think I would care. I wouldn’t be censoring myself in that way.
Lastly we are named after the Mariah Carey song, ‘Loverboy.’ Do you have a favourite Mariah song or moment?
Not really. She once waved at me at Live 8 and seemed really sweet. There was a time one summer, when someone danced to her Christmas song on a table in the middle of a club, that was a fun moment…
Jake Shears’ self-titled, debut album is out 10th August and he’s on tour now.
For more information see www.jakeshears.com