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There’s less than an hour to go until Jake Shears takes the stage at Manchester Pride. Most artists would be using this time to get ready or rehearse but, with more than two decades in the industry, six studio albums under his belt and a legacy that is nothing if not legendary, Jake doesn’t seem phased by the looming performance. “Everything’s super up, the show is very up, it’s kind of relentless,” he says as we sit on a sofa in a small dressing room backstage. “It’s just so fun to play new songs, you know? I love playing the old ones, they’re a blast too, but it’s always just fun to put new songs in and find things in them while you’re performing.”

Jake’s second solo studio album, Last Man Dancing, which was released in June and received widespread critical acclaim, is stacked with epic club bangers that have made this album cycle feel like “a big party” for the former Scissor Sisters frontman – who compares making an LP to “creating a world”. Jake shares that the majority of this record was developed after recording ‘Voices’, his disco-infused collaboration with Kylie Minogue, which helped him realise that he could “make a nonstop party record” with no breaks whatsoever. “She and I have been friends forever,” he says of how the track came to be. “That song had been in my back pocket for a long time, but there was no home really for it. So I started building the record around it because I thought it was such a special song and I really wanted to do something with it, so I started making songs that would sit next to it – and then that’s how the album turned into a dance record, which just really started with that song.”

After releasing four legendary albums with the Scissor Sisters, Jake is no stranger to making industrial-strength bops – just listen to tracks like ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ and ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’ if you need proof. He’s since found his footing as a solo artist on his self-titled debut album and Last Man Dancing, with songs such as ‘Creep City’ and ‘Really Big Deal’ among those that show how he has departed from the band’s signature sound while maintaining a sense of cohesiveness with it. “It all goes together,” he explains of how the new material coexists with the old. “I just think the Scissor stuff and my stuff, it’s like it’s all the same. I mean, to me, I look at it as all the same body of work. I don’t know if other people would look at it that way, but I look at all of these things as one. They’re all my records [and] I consider them to be part of that legacy as well – and that’s why I think the old stuff works really well with the new.”

February 2024 will mark 20 years since the Scissor Sisters released their self-titled debut album, which has a legacy that is both undeniable and untouchable. “It just doesn’t feel like that long to me,” Jake says as the sound of Natasha Bedingfield performing a cover of ‘Purple Rain’ on the main stage echoes faintly in the background as we talk. “I don’t know, it’s like another thing where I just try not to look back too much and I love now that I do have a pretty strong catalogue to pick from,” he adds. The group is yet to announce whether or not there are any plans to celebrate the upcoming milestone, but Jake doesn’t deny the possibility of something happening: “I hope so! Life at the moment is just so full on. I mean, I just have not stopped…It’s really been one of the busiest times of my life [this year].”

When the Scissor Sisters formed in the early 2000s, no one could have anticipated the colossal impact they would soon have. Their music saw Jake, alongside Ana Matronic, Babydaddy, Del Marquis, Randy Real and Paddy Boom, put LGBTQIA+ themes at the forefront in a way that was unapologetic and – at the time – pretty much unheard of. “I was just being myself,” Jake recalls. “I look back at it and it’s amazing to think that it did probably push the needle a little bit culturally, which is something I’m really proud of. But I’ve never been into being preachy or didactic or wagging fingers at anybody or making big demands. I think sometimes just being yourself does a lot of good.”

The band’s trailblazing sound and style has been credited for ushering in a new era for LGBTQIA+ music, which their first album was only the beginning of. “I think it’s the 40th best-selling record in the UK or something,” Jake says. “It’s crazy.” (Fun fact – it was also the country’s best-selling album of 2004 and has since moved more than 2.7 million copies in the region). It wasn’t long before songs like ‘Take Your Mama’, ‘Laura’ and ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’ became some of the defining tunes of that era – the latter of which Jake still looks back at fondly. “It’s just so fun, I love it,” he laughs. “If I try to get too serious with my music, it just doesn’t work as well. I like to get heartfelt, but I definitely think humour is just like a really important part of what I do and that song to me is kind of like a crown jewel. It’s just a funny song, it’s just silly! But when I look at that song, it reminds me that that’s something that I really need to always keep in mind when I’m writing and to not take myself too seriously.”

It was recently announced that Jake, alongside singer-songwriter Self Esteem, had joined the cast of the West End production of Cabaret. The show is scheduled to run from 25 September to 20 January at the Playhouse Theatre’s Kit Kat Club in London and will see the star take on the lead role of Emcee. We’ve been sitting on the sofa backstage for a while now, but Jake instantly perks up at the mere mention of Cabaret. “F***ing so excited,” he declares after being asked how he’s feeling about it all. “It’s so special to be going in with a new cast and, at this point, I feel really confident with it. I definitely have a ton of work to do and it’s just intense. It’s been athletic, my body’s really beaten up. I have to sleep and I’ve got to get tons of massages and like, I’m 45-years-old this year and you dance for eight hours a day. It’s just physically very intense, but it’s making me feel very alive.”

Despite it being mere months since the release of Last Man Dancing and Jake’s schedule showing no signs of slowing down, he’s already got more projects in the pipeline. “I’m just like, never satisfied with anything and I’m already writing new music,” he reveals, laughing as the performers joining him on stage not long from now flurry in and out of the dressing room we’re in. “Every record that I’m ever going to make is always going to have its own really solid identity and I have so many different musical styles. I love writing theatrical stuff, I love writing rock and roll stuff, I love writing song-crafty stuff, I love writing spaced out, f***ing dance music!” He adds that his next album is likely going to “be something totally different” and will probably be a reflection of his life during the Last Man Dancing era. “I don’t take a minute to breathe,” he jokes. “I’m constantly just moving forward.”

You can listen to Last Man Dancing below or by clicking here