The two had been waiting for the offer for firm up for months, with the deal finally sealed at Minogue HQ.
“It’s a once in a lifetime for our friendship,” Shears says.
They became instant friends in 2004 when Minogue wrote I Believe in You with Shears when he was frontman of US band Scissor Sisters.
The next year Shears was boosting Minogue’s spirits in Paris during her recovery from treatment for breast cancer, detailed in his autobiography Boys Keep Swinging.
Last year Shears was a surprise guest at Minogue’s 50th birthday party in London.
“I’d actually played a show in Birmingham that night so she didn’t think I was coming,” Shears says. “I jumped off stage and had to get a bus to London because the trains were broken and I made it to the party just in time. I jumped out in a sequined outfit and we sang Islands in the Stream together.”
The Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers duet wasn’t completely new ground. Three years ago Shears and Minogue were the guests of honour at a Dolly Parton themed Christmas party for a London talent agency.
“I put a bluegrass band together and Kylie and I were the entertainment for the party and did Dolly songs. I think that gave her some of the inspiration for going to Nashville and making (2018’s) Golden.”
At this point in their career and friendship, Minogue and Shears are on the same musical page — with Shears’ self-titled solo debut and Minogue’s Nashville-tinged Golden being complimentary records.
“They fit together, they have a Southern feel — Tennessee and Louisiana retrospectively in the States. This has been a landmark year for Kylie and I, she turned 50, I turned 40. It’s special we get to do this tour together. I’m sure we’ll concoct some fun things to do on stage.”
Compared to Kylie’s party, Shears’ 40th was a quieter affair.
“I went to dinner with a friend in LA, that’s it. The whole year has a been a f—ing party, so I was compelled to have a very sweet and quiet night!”
After launching with 2004’s multi-million selling self-titled debut (home to Take Your Mama, Laura, Filthy/Gorgeous and their Pink Floyd cover Comfortably Numb) and 2006’s Ta-Dah! (featuring the Australian No. 1 I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’) Scissor Sisters quietly went on hiatus after their fourth album, 2012’s Magic Hour, and the hit Let’s Have a Kiki.
“We had a good run, something in my soul just said it was a good time to put it down,” Shears says. “We’d done everything we set out to do, it was mission accomplished in a way. Sometimes I think it’s better to step back on a high note than run something longer than it needs to. Which was a really scary and tough decision to make. It’s taken me years to figure out my way back out and around it. To me the difficulties with that has been worth it. This last year has been one of the best of my life creatively. The stuff I’ve gotten to accomplish in the last few years have been thrilling. I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I still had this entity that was this top priority.”
Shears says there’s “no bad blood” between himself and the band (Scott ‘Babydaddy’ Hoffman co-wrote several tracks on his solo album) and “if we come up with a good idea” the ‘Sisters could reactive.
Now living between New Orleans and Los Angeles, he’s busy touring his solo album and working on even more new music, including working with Australian writer Jon Hume (Dean Lewis).
“One of my goals with this record was that it be viewed in the same body of work as the Scissor Sisters. I feel it is my body of work. It was important to me to be able to play Scissor songs next to these new songs and have them fit together. I feel this album is the spiritual successor to Ta-Dah! It takes the ideas I wanted to explore further on Ta-Dah! but never quite nailed.”
Shears’ refreshingly honest autobiography captures his youth and the early days of the Scissor Sisters, capturing the now-unthinkable days of selling over six million copies of your debut album.
Rather than use his history to sign with a record label, Shears has funded his solo career himself and effectively started his own label.
“It’s f—ing hard. It’s taken a lot of money. It’s been really expensive. This is the most expensive record I’ve ever made. I put the whole thing out myself. It’s tough. There’s moments that are discouraging but then it’s one of the things I’m most proud of having made. I have the goal in life now that one of my dreams is I want to be able to make the kind of music I want to make when I want to make it and how I want to make it. That’s not always super easy.
“There’s not a lot of bands around anymore. Actually figuring out how to put a band on the road playing concerts, it’s pretty wild. Fortunately I’ve been able to do that this last year but it’s not been particularly easy. But when you’re out there playing the shows it’s great. I’ve got a full time saxophone player in my band. Let me tell you, the delight on peoples’ faces when he storms the stage playing a saxophone solo is worth all of it. As hard as it is, it’s moments like that people never forget. To me it’s all about whatever it takes to put on a great show and make great music is what it takes. I could do a whole TED Talk on this!”
After leaving the band, Shears also found another career — lead role on Broadway in Kinky Boots (he was followed by Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco).
“The amount of new skills I learned doing that show has completely changed my approach to doing a show and my relationship with an audience. Just basic movement on stage. I learned so f—ing much that I’ve applied to all sorts of different things. I just shot a movie in September, I’ve been doing things I couldn’t have been able to do without Kinky Boots. It’s taken any kind of stage fright away from me. I feel much more in control of myself on stage, I feel a bigger freedom on stage. It really changed my life. I miss it. I miss the life. I’d love to do more theatre. It opened up a new world to me. It completely changed my life.”
Kylie Minogue with guest Jake Shears, ICC Sydney March 5 (sold out), March 6. Adelaide Entertainment Centre March 11. Sidney Myer Music Bowl, March 13. A Day on the Green shows — Sir James Mitchell Park Perth March 9, Bimbadgen Hunter Valley NSW March 16, Sirromet Wines Mt Cotton Queensland March 17 (sold out). Client Liaison play Sydney, Adelaide and Perth shows also. Ticket details here