Scissor Sisters - Biography

Scissor SistersScissor Sisters are an American band that formed in 2001, who have had massive success in the UK and Ireland. Their US record sales are modest compared with their UK sales, where they are now one of the decade's biggest-selling acts. Their influences are disco, glam-rock/pop and the gay-club scene of New York City. The group is named after a sex position between two women - tribadism. The initial full name was Dead Lesbian and the Fibrillating Scissor Sisters.

 

Line-up

The members of the band:

  • Jake Shears (born Jason Sellards) - Lead vocals, primary co-songwriter
  • Babydaddy (born Scott Hoffman) - Bass guitar, Guitar, keyboards, primary co-songwriter, backing vocals
  • Ana Matronic (born Ana Lynch) - Vocals, percussion, "Mistress of Ceremonies"
  • Del Marquis (born Derek Gruen) - Guitar
  • Paddy Boom (born Patrick Seacor) - Drums, percussion

Live shows and performances have included John "JJ" Garden, son of Graeme Garden of The Goodies, on keyboards/guitar.

History

Early career (2001-2003)

 The core of the band formed in 2000 when Shears and Babydaddy met while attending college in Kentucky, and began to play music together. After moving to New York City, the duo met Ana Matronic at a cabaret on Halloween, when she was dressed as an Andy Warhol factory reject, and Shears was dressed as a "back-alley abortion". The group soon began playing gigs, and they met Del Marquis while Jake Shears was still working as a stripper at a club called IC-Guyz. After becoming a quartet, the band was signed to independent record label "A Touch of Class" [1], and recorded a single, "Electrobix", which had as its B-side a disco/glam cover of the Pink Floyd classic, "Comfortably Numb".  Paddy Boom joined the band after they placed a classified ad looking for a live drummer.

Debut album and breakthrough success (2003-2005)

Their cover of "Comfortably Numb" became noticed in the UK when it was picked up by underground DJs in electroclubs. The Cock venue in London staged their first British gig at this time. The song later got the attention of British label Polydor, who signed them to a contract.

The group's first single for the label, "Laura", had a limited release in 2003 (reaching #54 in the UK singles chart), receiving little attention with the exceptions of British music paper New Musical Express, Channel 4's entertainment programme V Graham Norton and same channel's music programme Popworld for which they were interviewed. The track also garnered plenty of radio play in Australia. 2003 also saw the inclusion of the atmospheric "It Can't Come Quickly Enough" on the soundtrack of the film Party Monster; the song played over its ending credits.

Their first hit was in 2004 with the re-release of "Comfortably Numb" (reaching #10 in the UK), featuring Paul Leschen on piano and keyboards. This success was followed by fan favourite "Take Your Mama" (#17 in the UK), a re-release of "Laura" (#12 in the UK), the ballad "Mary" (#14 in the UK), and the gay/hedonist anthem "Filthy/Gorgeous" (#5 in the UK).

All the singles came from the eponymous debut album Scissor Sisters, which reached #1 on the UK albums chart and became the best selling album of 2004, beating Keane's Hopes And Fears by just 582 copies. As of 2006, it is the 10th biggest-selling album of the 21st century, and the 51st biggest-selling of all time in the UK. Several media outlets have noted that Scissor Sisters 'stick out like a sore thumb' on the list of artists who have sold over 2 million copies of an album in the UK in the 21st century the others being James Blunt, Robbie Williams, Keane, Dido, Coldplay and Norah Jones all artists considered 'mainstream' or 'middle of the road', as opposed to the Scissor Sisters' brash and controversial image.

Despite substantial chart success in the UK (which they refer to as their 'spiritual home'), the band have had only a moderate impact on the public consciousness in their home country. "Take Your Mama" received popular radio airplay on US pop stations. "Filthy/Gorgeous" enjoyed a following in stateside gay clubs.

The album was banned from the shelves of U.S. super chain Wal*Mart due to its "coarse language". The band have shown their dissatisfaction with the decision on a number of occasions, Jake Shears is even heard in a Spanish live performance on the band's DVD saying, "Wal*Mart won't stock our album...well, ya know what? Fuck Wal*Mart!".

Ta-Dah (2005-present)

Recording of the second album, Ta Dah commenced in mid-May 2005; sneak previews of new songs were played at live shows, including "Everybody Wants the Same Thing", performed at the Live 8 concert, "Paul McCartney", "I Can't Decide", "Hybrid Man", "Forever Right Now" and "Hairbaby" (a title which refers to the phenomenon of tumours containing partially formed foetuses).

Recordings took place at Discoball, the band's studio. The band fulfilled one of its dreams: Elton John collaborated with them on I Don't Feel Like Dancin' (as pianist and co-writer). The song reached #1 in the UK on 10 September 2006.

Elton John also contributed to the "Intermission" of Ta-Dah.

The album was released on September 18, 2006 in the UK, and will follow on September 26, 2006 in the USA. According to Jake Shears, the album is a combination of sixties-era psychedelia, glam rock and disco.

The band will play several gigs in the USA, continental Europe and Japan to promote the new CD. They are currently an opening act for Depeche Mode's 2006 Tour. Their first gig in the UK for promotion of the second album took place at the KOKO Club, Camden, London, on 31 August 2006 and was filmed for MTV. 2006 performances at the Bowery Ballroom and Siren Music Festival in New York, and the Coachella Festival have allowed for the band to showcase an array of songs taken from the new album. A free concert was given in Trafalgar square to 10,000 ballot winners on the 16th September in order to promote the Red charity.

The new album "Ta-Dah" leaked onto the internet on 13 September 2006, five days before its release in the UK.

It rocketed to Number 1 in the U.K charts in its first week of release, officially taking the topspot on Sunday the 24th September 2006, completing an historic first for the Scissor Sisters, a double consisting of a single and album at the top of the UK charts simultaneously.

Content of music

The lyrics of their songs, largely written by Shears and Babydaddy, are known for their mixture of wit and tragedy. The songs on the debut album dealt with a number of subjects and issues in a variety of styles, from crystal meth abuse in "Return to Oz", to Jake Shears' deep platonic love for his best friend in real life, Mary ("Mary"). Mary died of a brain aneurysm in April 2006, news that devastated members of the band.

Their music can be generally described as a mixture of glam rock, disco, and alternative music. They appear to have been heavily influenced by Elton John (Shears' singing, particularly, sometimes sounds uncannily like John). However, Shears has gone on record as not having been very familiar with John's work prior to the release of their record, although he's stated he's since become a big fan. The band echoes not only Elton John, but also the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Duran Duran ("the reason we got into music", as Ana says), Supertramp, Queen, Chic and various other dance/disco, rock, and funk acts, and they admit that their music is hard to categorize. They prefer not to be specifically labeled as a "gay band". In an interview featured on the We Are Scissor Sisters... And So Are You DVD, the band states, "The fact that some of us are gay affects our music the same amount as it does that some of the members of Blondie are straight".

The band count David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Roger Daltrey of the Who, U2, Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Elton John among its fans. They were the opening act for Duran Duran's 2004 reunion tour and opened for U2 on some of their UK dates for the Vertigo Tour.

Awards and press

At the 2005 Brit Awards, the group won all the awards they were nominated for: International Group, International Breakthrough, and International Album. It was the first time in the Awards history that an act won all three International categories. They also opened the show with "Take Your Mama", on a set made by The Jim Henson Company.

The band won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist on 28 March 2005. On 2 July 2005, the group performed at Live 8. Their set included the previously unheard song "Everybody Wants the Same Thing".

They have received a lot of attention in the United States by VH1 and magazines such as Out and Entertainment Weekly. So far in the US, two videos have received play: the "Take Your Mama" clip and the second "Laura" clip. They have also been interviewed on VH1's website and Del Marquis had been interviewed by the music section of IGN.com. As their early successes have been almost exclusively in Europe, they are often mistaken in the U.S. for an import band despite their New York roots. It is a little known fact that there are several tracks recorded by the band before their eponymous debut which were never released; these tracks have entered the fan community and, although sometimes difficult to find, can be obtained freely. These songs include "Someone to Touch", "Bicycling with the Devil", "Electrobix", "Monkey Baby", a Billy Joel-Elton John-esque cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out", as well as demo versions of "Laura", and "Filthy/Gorgeous".

Visuals

Scissor Sisters' CDs, records and DVDs feature artwork by an English illustrator named Spookytim, who has a studio in Brighton called Studiospooky. The artwork is created by a wide variety of techniques and mixes traditional paper-based processes with digital and photographic elements in order to reflect the multi-referential nature of the band's music.

Popular impact

Several fan societies have sprung up in the official forums. These include the "Jake Groupies", "Ana Matronic Appreciation Society", and the "Scissor Sisters Party Bus", the latter two having spilled over to their own sites. The band have a close relationship with the fan community, even holding a small private gig for select forum members on 14 August 2005, at which a number of new tracks were previewed, and fans had the opportunity to meet the band and give birthday cards and presents to Ana Matronic. In the fan community, those fans who hold a special affinity for Ana are known as "nuns".

In late 2004, Shears and Babydaddy co-wrote and produced the hit "I Believe in You" for Kylie Minogue.

The group were one of the headlining acts at the British V Festival in 2005, where they collaborated on stage with Scottish rock group Franz Ferdinand to perform a cover version of David Bowie's "Suffragette City".

Also in 2005, "Filthy/Gorgeous" was licensed by Activision and appears in Neversoft's Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.

10 September, 2006 saw them headline the Bestival festival on the Isle of Wight. They closed the three day event with the most spectacular show the island has seen for years. The band took to the stage at Robin Hill dressed as clowns, and by the encore - Filthy Gorgeous - they had been joined by dancers in 10 foot high clown costumes. Singer Jake Shears ended the set bare-chested and covered in fake blood. They succeeded in thrilling a capacity crowd, although they spectacularly failed to observe the "don't dress as clowns" advice, which had been introduced for the annual fancy dress parade, so as not to deter people with coulrophobia (fear of clowns) from attending the festival!

On 15 September 2006 the group were invited to the BBCs Maida Vale studios to perform different songs on every show broadcast on Radio 1. The event, dubbed Scissor Sisters Day, culminated in them actually standing in for presenter Pete Tong and hosting his three hour slot themselves. The show took an unexpected turn when a woman in labour telephoned the show to share her experience with the band. Several performances, interviews and a humorous jingle that was written in an hour, were filmed and edited into a special seven day looped broadcast on BBCi.

Scissor Sisters Official Website

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