It is almost a rite of passage now for some stars of rock. The artist, looking to shake off the disappointment of a record, or a string of bad records, and in dire need of reinvention and inspiration, decamps to Berlin for a time only to emerge creatively reinvigorated. It worked for David Bowie, he got his “Berlin Trilogy” of Low, Heroes, and Lodger out of it, and helped pal Iggy Pop with his own career renaissance. More recently Rufus Wainwright found inspiration there for his lavish Release the Stars.
Is it the permissive sexual attitudes? The fact that the city remains (relatively) cheap and has an artsy, funky glamour? The schnitzel? Who can say!
And so Jake Shears, in an interview with Pop Justice, reveals he up and left New York on a whim, settling in Berlin for two months to shake the doldrums: “I could be anonymous, I didn’t know the language, I needed to go have an adventure. I started up a little life for myself…I went to the zoo. I went to museums. I took a lot of drugs. I went dancing. I stayed up all night. I met crazy people. I heard incredible music. I ate amazing food. I saw hundreds of men getting fisted.”
It was during those outings where Shears found his vision for the new album:
Well, I had a moment. I was at a sex party in Mannheim, I was on the dancefloor. It was six o’clock in the morning. I was wearing a little rubber wrestling singlet. I was having a great time. There was a cloud in the room, this cloud of man sweat, cigarettes, spilled booze, shit because people were getting fisted, and poppers. And piss! It was disgusting… The most vile place I’ve ever been. And I was dancing, and the DJs put on ‘Walk The Night’ by the Skatt Brothers. It’s one of my favourites. It was one of those revelatory moments for me when I realised what I wanted the album to sound like and how I wanted it to make me feel.