Scissor Sisters exclusive! How gay are they really?

 ’I'm not interested in singing about gay people!’ Jake Shears

 
Five go camping

They are the most openly, laudably homosexualist band in the whole wide world (well, most of them are). But how far are Scissor Sisters willing to push the gay thing? We spoke to Jake Shears and  Baby Daddy – did we mention ‘exclusively’? – and it seems that ‘not all the way’ is the answer to that one.

So, do you think the whole gay thing damages the band?
BD: Did it damage Queen? I don’t think so. [We don't mention that Freddie, the gay one, didn't actually come out until he was on his deathbed].

That stuff doesn’t matter so much here but there’s not really been a gay band in America, has there?
J: There have been lots of gay bands. Fuck that shit. Just ’cause we’re not closet cases like everyone else. If you want me to mention some names, I will. [He names one: as far as we're aware, he's wrong]. The only difference between us and these fuckers is that we have the balls to admit it.
BD: We love making music and we’re not going to let anything stop us. I’d rather be a persecuted gay band making decent music than a bunch of closet cases that try to avoid any problems with it. And we’re not really a gay band: there’s a straight woman and a straight man in there…
Has the gay thing informed the band?
J: I think it’s shaped our aesthetic. There are no gay lyrics, it’s all totally coded. If you’re looking for a gay message, you totally have to dig.

Why?
J: I’m not interested in singing about gay people.

But are the love songs gender specific?
J: Yeah, they’re mostly female. They’re heterosexual. I wanted the music to be accessible. I don’t want to appeal to just a tenth of the population.
BD: Jake’s a storyteller more than anything. He’s not presenting himself as a ladies’ man, he’s just telling stories through his music. And nine out of ten stories tend to be straight.
J: If you listened to a gay love song, the majority of anyone who’s going to listen to that song is not going to be able to identify.

But gay men identify with straight stories; why shouldn’t straight people identify with gay ones?
J: I just don’t think it happens. You could pick the lyrics apart and find plenty of gay stuff in the lyrics. There’s definitely a gay sensibility.
BD: I don’t think ‘Laura’, for instance, is necessarily a straight love story. It just happens to be a be a man talking to a woman.

Do you take the point? You’re so upfront about not being closeted but…
J: There might not be anything directly straight but it’s not a conscious decision.
BD: We’re not hiding anything, it’s just that he’s allowing things to be accessible, so the music has a wider audience.
J: And it’s more important to me than being gay. I couldn’t give a fuck about being gay. I think Ana says it best sometimes: it’s a really small part of our identity. I’m not a gay man first and foremost.

Can you imagine 50 Cent saying, ‘I’m not a black man first and foremost’?
J: Sure!

There’s never any issue with black singers singing about the black experience. They don’t worry that it’s not going to be accessible…
J: I get bored with it. It’s not an issue. We’re not doing straight stuff. We’re just making music. Anyone can listen to this music and identify with it. If you take a band like Pansy Division, I hate that shit! Number one, it’s crap music and then it’s so going out of its way to be shocking and offensive and gay… It’s like, who cares?

But can’t you do a nice, radio-friendly record that everyone likes that just happens to be about two men?
BD: I think the problem is when you spell things out in any direction, the timelessness is gone.

- Do you agree with Baby Daddy and Jake? Comment away, people.

The new single ‘Kiss Me Off’ is out this week. The album Ta Da has been out, ooh, ages.

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16 comments to “Scissor Sisters exclusive! How gay are they really?”

  1. Isn’t it funny that somewhere between ‘Don’t Feel LIke Dancing’ and the next single everyone completely lost interest?

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  2. He’s a touchy little man, Jake Shears, isn’t he?!

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  3. Good for Jake! Why the fuck should he sing about being gay? I know being gay is a minor part of my life, like it is for a lot of men and women. If people dared step outside their (very boring) gay bubbles for a minute, they would realise that a lot of people are indifferent about sexuality. This whole interview seems to be based on a very immature point of view.

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  4. It’s partly a fair argument, sexuality shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all, but it’s inconsistent and slightly hetrophobic. Why can’t straight people identify with superficially gay songs? I think a fair few of my straight mates and family would take issue with that. Not that I think they’re under any moral imperative to pen gay songs about gay life for a gay audience because they’re gay. They’re a pop group, ffs.

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  5. I think the point is they’re making it an issue by resolutely making their songs heterosexual. No one’s asking for ‘Today I am gay/Just wanted to say/Gay gay gay’, they’re just saying that if you have a love song why can’t it be about two people of the same sex. I’ve spent my long gay life identifying with straights in movies and songs so I don’t think it’s too far off the scale to ask why a gay group (banging on about it at that) can’t include one tiny little song with some same sex action. Even Mika has Billy Brown falling in love with another man.

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  6. Think you’re missing the point, Consuela. Jake Shears will do a song and a dance about being a gayer when it suits him, but moans about being pigeon-holed as a gayer when he’s got the hump. Jake is palpably quite immature, and contradicts himself in this interview at least three times. It’s obvious he sees himself as intelligent, whereas he’s just, well not, particularly. No-one’s asking him to sing ‘gay’, but why can’t the subject matter of his songs be two men? Quite a simple question, really. Honestly, people.

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  7. Even Rod Stewart sang about a gay man in The Killing of Georgie and that was in the 70s. They’re fair weather gays, this lot, and open about it: we don’t want to compromise our sales by having a gay song that will be banned from redneck radio. Well, no one in America cares about them anyways, so that worked.

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  8. Hear hear, Eric and Flowery. Couldn’t agree more. The points raised in the interview are highly pertinent, and you can tell they’re uncomfortable with them ’cause they can’t come up with decent answers.

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  9. I like Scissor Sisters a lot, but for me it’s more about Ana Matronic, who is fabulous, more than for Jake. He always seems a little up himself and defensive in comparison. So, in that way for me they’re definitely more than a ‘gay’ band. I don’t think they necessarily have to write ‘gay’ sings anyway. As long as they’re good songs, who cares?

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  10. Jake Shears calling Pansy Division crap is like Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan calling Sleater Kinney or Le Tigre crap. Scissor Sisters have never made the type of music that is compelling or substantive; they are coming from a different place, and that place is pretty vacant. So, of course, they are not going to want to be political, that shoudl not be surprising. I guess the audience they are going for is spoon-fed, apolitical, apathetic, all look and dress the same, and no one says anything real. Good luck with that!

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  11. I don’t think I miss the point at all, Flowery. Why should Jake be pigeon-holed? He has every right to be pissed off. There’s a lot more to him than being gay, and his priority shouldn’t be to please a gay audience first. By him not singing about two gay men, it seems, implies he is some sort of sell-out. Gay people don’t have ownership over Jake simply because he is gay, and don’t have a right to be pissed off that he doesn’t sing a gay love song. Who the fuck are gay people to dictate how he should make a living? They didn’t give him his career. Yes, he talks about being gay, so what … he is! He’s also a lot of other things. Should all gay painters have a quota of gay subjects in their work? Should gay writers ensure 1 in 10 characters in their book is gay? No … so why the fuck are singers any different? It doesn’t matter what-so-ever if he sings about gay relationships or not … either way, he ain’t going to be changing the world. If people are that concerned about being accepted by wider society, they should get off their own arses and stop living in their gay bubble of gay clubs, bars, social groups etc … don’t wait on a fucking pop star to do it for you.

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  12. Ridiculous… in a couple of years the only gigs they’ll be able to get will be at gay pride fests, and then what will they be saying? I would have to guess Jake hasn’t really heard Pansy Division’s music.

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  13. Again, Consuela. Point. Missed. No-one has to pigeon-hole themselves, obviously, but when a band choose to use their ‘gayness’ as a marketing tool – as Jake Shears does – but then refuses to sing ‘gay’ songs because he/they don’t want to be pigeon-holed, then that’s hyprocritical in the extreme, and quite rude come to mention it. When someone like Mika can quite happily write a gay song – ‘Billy Brown’ – whether there is deeper meaning involved or not, it’s rather lame that Scissor Sisters can’t. Ironically, I don’t really give a fuck what they sing about, coz I think they’re shit, but it’s just rather cynical from their point of view – or rather Jake’s point of view – to be an out, proud gay man, but not out and proud enough to let his artform – and the means by which he pays his bills – express his gayness. The fact that this is even a debate is weird – no-one questions a straight act singing about heterosexual love, and quite rightly so. It’s what is natural to them, and as song-writers one assumes they’d write about things they know. Therefore one would naturally like to think that gay artists would write about what they know and what is natural to them ie. gay love. Seems rather contrived, otherwise. And when gays are still struggling with horrific prejudice, for a gay artist to refuse to write even the odd ‘gay’ song seems like they’re ashamed or something, which is just the sort of roundabout fodder that fuels prejudice. I thank you.

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  14. But Flowery, is his gayness a marketing tool, or is he simply being himself? I think it’s the media picking up on his gayness than him shoving it in people’s faces. Plus, how can you cite Mika as a shining example of how to do it when he refuses to discuss his sexuality! If you’re looking for a cop out, there you have one shining example.

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  15. [...] Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters fame told us he’s not really interested in singing about gay people. He was still all over Kylie like a dirty protest, mind you. [...]

  16. [...] And while he point blank refuses to write any songs about gay lovin’ for his albums (see here), it seems he don’t mind writing some presumably gay songs for a musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s adorable (well, the early ones were) Tales of the City. [...]

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