Workaholic singer Jake Shears promises to bathe Dallas in sweat. And he may even spray us with a big, wet loogie
Jake Shears is suffering from travel exhaustion. But he’s not finished working. Earlier this week, the boyish singer of Scissor Sisters was prepping for a concert in Toronto, but Shears is already looking ahead to his Dallas gig on Thursday at the new Palladium Ballroom.
Over an iffy cell phone connection, Shears enthusiastically discusses his band’s history, their future and teaming up with hit-making giants.
Despite Scissor Sister’s relatively brief career, Shears has already worked with some high-profile colleagues, including Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Andy Bell. As for future collaborators, Shears keeps those names close to the vest, simply saying that there are “tons of people” he’d like to work with. He does name-drop one: Shears and fellow Scissor Sisters songwriter Babydaddy recently jammed with ’70s pop-pianist Paul Williams.
“Still,” Shears adds, “I’m not the sort of person who collaborates for demographics. We’re not just going to work with someone just because they’re a big name. There has to be a reason behind it.”
Was the shift from the band’s disco-infused debut to the ’70s-era follow-up “Ta-Dah” intentional?
“Yes! I think you necessarily have to change,” Shears says. “I’m a big believer that you need to keep adapting your sound or you just end up making the same record over and over again.”
That doesn’t mean the process is easy.
“In some ways, “‘Ta-Dah’ was a horrible album to have to make,” Shears says. “It was like passing a kidney stone.”
When it comes to deciding between the party life and toiling work schedule, Shears says the choice is automatic.
“I’m a workaholic, first and foremost,” he explains. “And part of that is taking care of myself.”
Though Shears enjoys a night in a crowded club “a couple of times a year,” he says he prefers gatherings where “I can talk to people and hear then talking to me.”
How does he cut loose after a particularly good gig?
“I find a quiet room, and I smoke a cigarette,” he says.
Somehow our discussion shifts to the vocabulary of bigots. And Shears dismisses the Isaiah Washington “faggot” controversy as “mildly ridiculous.”
The free-spirited lyricist says he has “love-hate relationship” with watchdog groups or as Sheers calls them, “Language Nazis.”
“Maybe I’m being naive. But I tend to think that people should be allowed to say what they want, even if it’s ugly or bigoted,” he says.
Perhaps his opinions were earned the hard way. The band name Scissor Sisters is borrowed from a lesbian sex act. Were any other names considered?
“We were going to call ourselves Pam-Pam,” Shears recalls. “That was the word I used for a woman’s vagina when I was young. The first time I saw Pam cooking spray, I was very confused.”
Finishing up, I ask Shears whether we can expect a dramatic christening of the Palladium’s stage. After promising to contribute plenty of sweat, he lets loose with a little something extra.
“Sometimes,” he says, “when I need to hock up a big loogie, I’ll just spit on the stage. There’s just something about a new stage that just asks to be spit on. It gives it more soul.”
Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar, March 15, doors at 7 p.m. $30. 972-343-2444.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 09, 2007