By Tom Semioli Scissor-Sisters-02








This feature appeared in Amplifier Magazine, July 2004

"Someone described our music as a Trojan Horse," laughs Babydaddy from his London hotel room. "It's the idea that we're presenting something in a very wholesome package, but deep down, we're a bit more subversive than everyone realizes."

The "wholesome package" the fashion savvy keyboardist/bassist speaks of probably refers to the Scissor Sisters' campy stage attire, yen for mischief, and fun-loving approach to the serious business of making chart-topping music. The hip shaking, thought provoking grooves rendered by New York City's most valuable new pop export emerge as a lavish amalgamation of 1970s kitsch in the vein of Elton John, the Bee Gees, and David Bowie, combined with an even deeper affection for the shameless excess of 1980s icons George Michael and B- 52s. The Scissor Sisters (FYI- a slang term for lesbianism!) are all the rage in Europe and the hottest underground band in the United States.

While dueling singers Jake Shears and performance artist Ana Matronic use sex as a tongue-in-cheek weapon, Babydaddy, drummer Paddy Boom, and guitarists Del Marquis and Derek G. are masters of the pop idiom; recycling and reinventing the notion that if it's got a melody and you can dance to it, you have a hit, regardless of what genre you happen to exist in. So far, their ticket to ride has been a shimmering, tub-thumping remake of the hallowed Pink Floyd anthem "Comfortably Numb," which was fortified by a sexy, surrealistic video too far out to begin to decipher without a Master's Degree in Psychology (you can see it  for yourself on MTV2).  Babydaddy swears the stroke of misplaced genius was all Shears' responsibility. The flamboyant co-vocalist was alone on his parents’ Virginia farm in the midst of a vintage record listening binge when he arrived at the realization that Floyd's biggest songs were underpinned with disco beats, thereby validating his already revolutionary tendencies.

As with everything the Sisters touch these days, the break-through hit was not without controversy. "People said it was a song about heroin turned into a song about ecstasy," Babydaddy happily recalls. "I can see how that works, though it wasn't conscious for us to do that. It's an update of the song for different times as a rollicking dance track with a dark edge, especially for all of us who live in Manhattan after 9/11. We may be making joyful music, but there's an undercurrent of something that's far more foreboding." Luckily for the Sisters the cut crawled to #9 in the UK, which didn't quite brand them as a novelty act which simply cashed in on Johnny “I Hate Pink Floyd” Lydon/Rotten's dinosaur rock nemesis . "Our original intention was to slip the song on a b-side of a twelve inch for a tiny indie imprint."

With the February 2004 release of the Scissor Sisters' self titled debut achieving  platinum status in the UK, along with a second smash single "Take Your Mama Out," the purposely mismatched fearless five-some were welcomed with open arms on the lucrative European festival circuit, and have shared the bill with few of their heroes, namely Sir Elton and Duran Duran. "We have comrades in the British," Babydaddy  proudly proclaims regarding the political tensions that circle the two continents. "They're our allies in this whole mess. I get the feeling the people of both countries feel equally stupid with what's going on. There's no hostility. They know that when artists blow through that we're the most liberal representatives of the bunch."

Now, as the American market-place beckons with a late summer domestic release of their UK debut and a fall tour, the Sisters are standing strong in the face of record industry pressure. "We've fought like hell just to get this album out here with all the songs in tact. The decision was made by us not to put the album in Wal-Mart, and not to make a clean version. We did have to slap a parental warning sticker on the disc, which is completely absurd. I think a kid listening to Eminem is getting a much more negative message that what we've been putting forward. We've only got one 'shit' and a few 'tits!"

Dedicated to the album format, the Scissor Sisters labored for months over the track order, sonic nuances, and overall length. Inspired by the classic rock albums of thirty years past, the goal was "to create a perfect pop rock album that would pick you up at the beginning, take you on a journey in the middle, and set you right back down in the same place at the end. Every step we took, we looked at history." By making the album as short as possible, the Scissor Sisters put their best feet forward without resorting to the need to include filler or repeating themselves.

With the proliferation of downloading songs now running rampant in Europe as well as the States, Babydaddy has equal faith in the past and the future. "I think we as a culture are going to need entire albums in addition to just 'songs.' I have a great love for the pop song, Lord knows we all have a short attention span at times. Yet there are days when you want to watch a sitcom and other days when you want to see a film. The song and the album are clearly two different circumstances. When I look back on my childhood, my most profound experiences were sitting in my room listening to entire records. That to me is a pensive, personal moment when an artist speaks to me and relates an entire story, not just a little anecdote."

Artists are used to dealing with failure, but success often poses a different set of jet set problems. Babydaddy exudes optimism. "Fortunately, from an artistic standpoint, we have yet to see the money that comes with success. It's a slow process, and it's very expensive to be out on the road like we are. We've all worked day jobs that gave us the time to do what we love, which is music. I'd say we have fairly sturdy heads on our shoulders. But we do discuss 'success' all the time. What's it going to be like when things get easy? Or will things ever get easy? We're not tempted to run off on a vacation just yet."