By Chris Azzopardi
No matter how adorable Scissor Sisters guitarist Del Marquis looks in high-trousered pants, he's usually getting upstaged. Such is the life of being in a band fronted by an especially playful vocalist -- the flamboyantly magnetic Jake Shears -- who has a thing for stripping on stage. But now, all eyes are on the oft-sideburned Marquis. After releasing two EPs in the last year, he's debuting Litter to Society, a collaboration with visionary videographers Embryoroom, and the third part of his four-installment solo project.
Out caught up with Marquis, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and got the 411 on his ego-driven disc, the upcoming Scissor Sisters' LP and why, lately, he feels like an attention whore.
Out: What are you up to?
Del Marquis: I just came back from the gym and I'm just working. I have a home studio in my house.
Haven't you done enough in the last few months?
[Laughs] You would think. I'm involved in the production and distribution of the music that I've been working on, so it's the after-the-fact business thing that's time consuming and less gratifying.
With this solo project, the attention is all on you. As part of Scissor Sisters, it's obviously not that way because Jake gets most of it. So how does it feel to be the attention whore now?
Whore is a good word, because I really do have to [laughs]. Unfortunately you really do have to know that what you did is worth something. You can believe in it from the get-go, but it's really about convincing other people, and you kind of are wearing all these hats. It's like, 'Look at me!' and trying to find a way to get people's attention without being just a complete whore, and sometimes the attention is nice and sometimes it's negative, and I think that I recognize my role in Scissor Sisters now by being at the center of a different project. It's just such a different world. It's a different set of responsibilities. So I don't know how I'm handling it. I think I still want more attention for this project, that's for sure.
I fell for 'I Believe in You' immediately.
It's kind of the odd song. It's actually a Bob Dylan cover. I did it for a specific reason, but I don't really want to -- I feel like it's kind of evolved beyond that, so I don't want to nail it down to why I recorded that song. I'm not the biggest Bob Dylan fan. Not that I dislike him, but I wasn't as familiar with the original, so it was kind of easier for me to record my own version. I think that gave me a bit of freedom.
How did it feel to work without the groupies?
I didn't do this project by myself completely. I had a co-producer who was integral in getting the sound, and I'm really happy with the production. I think it sounds like a really big and expensive record -- and it wasn't. It wasn't cheap, but I think we made it sound really big and really expensive [laughs]. And then as far as the production end, the post recording, I have some friends I'm working with on the video aspect that also helped me. We distribute directly to iTunes, and we do the artwork, so I'm not alone. But it's definitely a smaller machine, and the energy it requires to keep it moving is kind of intense.
And you're also not working with the people you're used to working with, the Scissor Sisters.
No, and I miss them [laughs]. Not that I don't see them, but it makes me miss that experience in that I'm really happy I was able to do this, and I'd still continue love working on it, but it made me appreciate my role and what that band is about. Being in a band is a really special thing; it's not an easy thing to just make and make happen, and I truly enjoy the company of my band members.
Why did you want to make a solo project in the first place? Was it to fill in the gap between Scissor Sisters albums? Musical withdrawal?
Just so many reasons. For the first time I felt like I had something to say. I had never really written lyrics and I just felt like I had to do this. I don't know what concrete reason there was, but I was compelled. It was like, 'I have to do something, I have to do something with my name [on it] and a statement from me.' It's a bit of an ego fulfillment, but it's necessary.
There's a real '80s vibe to the album. Who were some of your influences from that era for this album?
There are so many. For this record I had a few touchstones -- Trevor Horn productions, like ABC and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Welcome to the Pleasuredome. Also, Tears for Fears records, [like] Songs from the Big Chair -- it's a great album, it's a big sounding album, it's really melodic. There's surprisingly some really experimental sounds on there, but it never sacrifies melody. Thomas Dolby, a lot of blue-eyed soul, like Style Council and Prefab Sprout. I was a bit all over the place, which is why I kind of decided to group them as EPs, because I ended up with a collection of songs that I wasn't sure made an entirely cohesive piece. There were like 16 or 17 songs and I was like, 'I think this will make better sense in smaller segments.'