Scissor Sisters Are Pop's Brightest Hope. But Ana Matronic, The Fair Beauty Of The Fivesome, Explains Why Making The Second Album Was No Dance At The Disco.
Ana Matronic, the grande dame of Scissor Sisters, is in a car and on her way to the airport following an Australian festival performance the band has just finished in Byron Bay. “Tomorrow night we have a show in Sydney at Luna Park, which is a big amusement park complex,” Ana, the group’s female lead singer, says down the crackly line of a cell phone. “Very appropriate for the carnival that is Scissor Sisters.”
That carnival is one that many music fans—long starved of a current, original pop act clad in bedazzled jackets and glittery platform heels—have been glad to attend. At the end of September, over two years since the release of the flamboyantly fantastic quintet’s debut album (and following what seems like an eon of nonstop touring), the band is set to unleash its sophomore disc, Ta-Dah.
In England, Scissor Sisters’ first album narrowly edged out Keane to become the bestseller of 2004. Here in the States, however, they’re perhaps unfairly often labeled as being a “gay band,” even though only three of the four male members are actually gay. It’s something that may have factored into lower sales of the record compared to its performance in Europe. One thing’s for certain, though: the energetic stage shows put on by the Scissors have garnered them a rabid fan base worldwide.
Admittedly, a second Scissor Sisters album was an uphill battle for the fivesome to find motivation to record. “Being on tour for two years is really grueling,” Ana explains. “It was quite daunting coming back and saying, ‘Okay, how do we do this again? And can we do this again?’ You become used to performing, and you become used to that exchange of energy between yourself and the crowd. Coming back to New York and not having that on a regular basis, I think, took its toll on everybody’s self-esteem for a little while. But thankfully, I think we broke through and soldiered on and made something that is just as good as the first record. We’re really proud of it.”
For Ta-Dah’s first single—a glorious, upbeat number called “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’”—Scissor Sisters enlisted the help of one Sir Elton John. The original founders of the Scissors, Jake Shears and Babydaddy, went into a Las Vegas studio with John to see what they could come up with. “Then when we were in New York, Elton was there and called to say hi,” Ana says. “We said, ‘Can you come in? We’re kind of stuck and feeling low.’ And so he did! He was there for probably two hours or something, just hanging out and laying out chords on the piano, with Jake over his shoulder saying, ‘We’ll do this and we’ll do that.’”
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Ana Matronic, whose real name is Ana Lynch, lists a wide range of her own personal musical influences. “My mother grew up in Louisiana, and she raised me listening to the blues and early rock ’n’ roll,” she says. “Lots of Little Richard, lots of Motown, lots of Stax Records and Memphis soul.” But by age eight, one contemporary ’80s group after another began to make an impact on the impressionable youngster. “I discovered Duran Duran, and it was all over from there. Then at age 11, I heard The Cure for the first time and became a staunch goth. I like to say that Robert Smith saved my parents a great deal of money in psychiatric bills.”
s for being the only female in the band, it’s not really something that gets her sparkly glam shorts in a twist. “I don’t have an issue with gender,” Ana states matter-of-factly. “I don’t consider myself the girliest girl on the planet, even though I love makeup and hair and dressing up. Sometimes I think if the guys had to tour and do everything in heels and with five pounds of fake hair on their head, they probably wouldn’t have lasted two years. Being a woman on the road can be a really difficult thing, but I have a great deal of support from my bandmates. I’m lucky. They’re really amazing guys.”
And now Scissor Sisters are gearing up for more touring, to promote Ta-Dah. “Jake was writing a bunch of words down on a piece of paper,” Ana recalls, “‘Ta-dah’ was one of them. My first thought was of Sally Bowles in Cabaret, because ‘Ta-dah!’ was her catchphrase. It conjures up so many different images with so many different levels of meaning that I thought it was pretty perfect—and definitely for a second album. It’s sort of unapologetically like, Here it is. Take it or leave it, love it or hate it.
“It really sums up Scissor Sisters in a splendid little nutshell,” she says just before jetting off to Sydney to cast a spell on another happily-bouncing audience. “I think it truly is a ta-dah sort of band.”
Robbie Daw dishes out pop music and sass daily on his siteChart Rigger.