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Never Mind The Buttocks
In the middle of the noughties, Scissor Sisters were the biggest, gayest thing in pop. Then they came down with writer’s block and vanished for five years. Now they return to a music scene that has changed utterly...
Ed Power, 23 Aug 2010
Jake Shears’ eyes are on stalks. “Wow... is that what I think it is?” says the Scissor Sisters’ singer, gazing dreamily at your correspondent’s lap. “It’s... it’s amazing.”
Well, yes – it is rather impressive isn’t it?
“I’ll say. I’ve got one too. I can’t stop messing around with it. The rest of the band will tell you, it’s all I ever talk about.”
So we’re agreed then: the Apple iPad is about the whizziest, most superlative piece of kit you can get for €500.
“I think it’s going to save the art of the album cover,” says Shears. “Because the screen is so large, you can get full-sized album sleeves again. It’s bringing us back to the days of vinyl.”
The subject of album artwork has been on Shears’ mind a great deal lately. There was a minor kerfuffle over the sleeve to Scissor Sisters’ just released third album, Night Work: a black and white photograph of a clenched pair of buttocks, widely interpreted as a lewd wink at Springsteen’s Born In The USA.
“There are a lot of similarities to Born In The USA and also Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones. That’s not why we chose the cover. But we were aware of it. While it might sound weird, I see parallels between us and Springsteen. Definitely, he is someone who writes about his life and times in a straightforward way.”
Ultimately, though, the shot – a detail from a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe – was picked for strictly aesthetic reasons.
“What I love about that photograph,” says Shears, “is that your eyes are automatically drawn towards it. There’s a playfulness and a sexiness that really represents the album. It’s a picture of a ballet dancer. Part of me thinks about how hard a dancer has to work to have an ass like that. I relate to that. I feel we are a very dedicated band. We believe 100 per cent in what we do.”
That’s probably just as well. Four years since second LP Ta-Dah topped the charts, the New York disco bunnies – essentially a five-person Gay Pride march with quality tunes – return from something of a wilderness period. Fearing they were in danger of slipping into feather-boa-fluttering self-parody, Shears and co-songwriter Ana Matronic had decided to radically re-tool their sound. The problem was that, initially at least, they were bereft of ideas. With the very future of the group in doubt, Shears decided extreme measures were required – and promptly hot-footed it to Berlin, leaving most of his acquaintances in New York (including his boyfriend) wondering where the hell he was.