Jake Shears has been a busy man. Not content with just writing a memoir (Boys Keep Swinging) and taking on a Broadway role in the smash hit musical, Kinky Boots, he’s recently completed work on his forthcoming debut solo album, which will be his first full-length record since Scissor Sisters’ last hurrah, Magic Hour, six years ago.

If the sound of introductory single, ‘Creep City’, and the other tracks The 405 has had a sneak-preview listen to are anything to go by, the album – due out around springtime - will have something titillating for Scissor Sisters fans and new listeners alike.

In conversation with Doron Davidson-Vidavski on a recent visit to London, Shears talks about going solo, his inspirations for the new record, a new-found love for New Orleans and working with Kylie Minogue.

You chose ‘Creep City’ as the introducer for your solo project – why this track?

I think that the album is definitely one piece, everything fits together and the whole thing tells a story. I chose ‘Creep City’ not just because it’s my favourite song on the album but also because I really felt like it was a great introduction for what the record sounds like. It brings together different parts of the record and paints a true picture of what it is like as a whole. The lyrics, that big twisty bridge – that’s what the album is. If I were to choose one song that represented the record – ‘Creep City’ has it all.

What was the starting point for you in terms of deciding “I want to make a solo record”?

Well, Scissors disbanded and I moved to L.A., which was really weird. The transition was really strange from New York to L.A. – at the time I was, like, “what did I do? I should never have done this”. It kind of was a bad idea, I think.

Was the move prompted by anything in particular?

My partner at the time wanted to go out there and we’d been in New York for so long… it was something new - so I went. And now I love it – I’ve grown to love it. But it wasn’t instant, it took a while. And I never really wanted to do solo stuff, I just thought I would start another project of some kind. I was writing with different people, trying to drum up some sort of concept or some idea for it and it wasn’t until I wrote a couple of really good songs that I was, like, yeah, I could do a solo thing. And I’ve been working on it for a solid two years . I mean, I was writing a lot before that but I just didn’t know what I was saying at that stage. I had to make quite a lot of big decisions about my life, actually, because I had a couple of really rough years.

And did they, in turn, inform the song-writing?

Yeah and the whole record is kind of about that. I mean, I hate the word journey, it’s such an embarrassing word, so if you could find a different word for ‘journey’ I’d really appreciate it…

OK, how about… path?

[laughs] Yeah, path! But, yeah, I had to figure out, you know… point myself in the right direction until I felt that I was headed the right way. And the record is all about that. But the other thing is that, even now, it doesn’t really necessarily feel like a solo thing, I don’t feel like I’m by myself – the people I’ve been recording with are really awesome. I’ve been working with some amazing people like the guys who are in my band right now, Mr Hudson…

How did the hook-up with Mr Hudson happen?

We ran into each other at CrossFit a year and a half ago and we’ve written a lot of songs together. He’s been living in my basement!

And have you made your peace with L.A. now?

Oh, I love it. But not as much as I love New Orleans! I mean, L.A. is great, I really love my life there now; I’ve got a dog and a great house and I can be creative there – it’s all set up for me to be able to be creative over there and I’ve got some really great friends. But New Orleans is just…. I wanna get old there. That’s where I really wanna go – I love it so much. When I went down there, it just changed my life. I bought a little apartment down there after I realised that I wanted to really be there.

You recorded some of the album in New Orleans – was that how your love affair with the city arise?

You know, I’d spent the winter down there then went back to L.A. and I’d only been back for, like, one week after spending five months in New Orleans. I was making myself breakfast one morning and I sat at the table listening to WWOZ – it’s a music radio station in New Orleans – and I sat down at the table and just burst into tears. I came back to L.A. without a distinct plan and I was really just… yeah, I was crying my eye out. And I knew – I knew I had to go back there. The place was calling me. I fell in love with it and I miss it like a person. I’ve never felt that intensely about a place before. I can sit with you and talk about New Orleans for the next five hours and then convince you to move there.

You’ve been opening your live shows with a new song called ‘Good Friends’ and I understand that it’s inspired by one of the bars in New Orleans…

Yeah there’s a gay bar in New Orleans that’s called Good Friends, it’s right off Bourbon Street, right in the gay square and it’s nothing fancy or particularly cool, there’s some potted plants and a balcony, they make this great milkshake drink… I just love hanging out there. Just easy-breezy on a Sunday afternoon. The song means two things – it is named after the bar but it’s also about the people I have met in New Orleans. I didn’t know a soul when I first went there and I was just taken in immediately by incredible people. I was a shell when I first went there and I had to build myself back up again and I did it with the help of the city and the friends that I made there. My friends and my family are the people I care about the most.

About that. Earlier you mentioned the Scissor Sisters disbanding but are you still close friends?

Oh yeah. Baby Daddy is like my brother – we see each other all the time. We’ve known each other for over 20 years and he’s one of the funniest people I have ever met. I can always call him up and he will make me laugh. When Del is in L.A. we get dinner together. They actually came to my show in New York the other day. Ana is doing really well over here with her Radio 2 show and I’m really happy for her. Yeah – we’re all good!

I know you said you don’t really feel like you’re on your own, as such, but was it daunting at all to step outside the comfort zone of Scissor Sisters and become a solo artist?

Well, the thing is that I love this music so much that when I walk on stage and play this entire album that nobody has heard before… it is so frightening but it is also so exciting! It’s exciting to be scared and to take that risk. And I have the best time. I love selling shit and just going out there and selling it. That’s why I love festivals – playing to a big crowd of people who might not know who the fuck you are or your music and you gotta go out there, shake your tits and make them pay attention. Selling it. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a shit-ton of work but I love it. You have to keep having these dreams and setting these goal posts for yourself and I planted that flag a long time ago and chipped and chipped and chipped and chipped away and… then you have to keep setting that goal post further.

Scissor Sisters became big in the UK first and only then did the rest of the world catch on. Does coming back here feel like returning to a happy place?

[Hesitating for a long moment] Ummm… yeah, I guess so. You see, I get flashbacks all the time here. I mean, that time… we worked so hard that it made us sick. I suffered from exhaustion. Straight-up exhaustion. We worked so hard, it was harder than anything I had ever done before that. It was unhealthy. So I get weird flashbacks here of just being ill. Yet at the same time so happy.

What can you tell me about your next single, ‘Big Bushy Moustache’?

I got the idea or the song after I grew my moustache. I was in New Orleans and that was such a fun song to write. My favourite songs are the ones you get the concept and the title at the same time and also the melody of the title at the same time. Back in the day ‘Take Your Mama’ was like that. Those songs are my favourite ones, where it all comes in one go. I remember I was walking into my house and there was a moustache painted on one of my keys and I just walked through my door and the title of the song came to my head with the melody. I froze and recorded it on the voice memo app. That song was one of the most fun ones to write.

‘Everything I’ll Ever Need’ is one of the slower umbers on your record and stands in nice contrast with some of the more upbeat cuts from your new material…

Yeah, I wrote that one in New Orleans too. I was so heart-sick, getting over a lot of stuff. It’s a song that was sort of like a mantra I was telling myself – that I was going to be ok. That whatever had been going on in my life, it wasn’t the end of the world and that I was going to be fine. That is where the lyric - the title - comes from, knowing that I was where I needed to be and that was all I needed. I just had to keep telling myself that. It’s a very special song to me and I get very teary sometimes when I listen to it.

One of my favourite songs of yours sadly remains unreleased – it’s a track you wrote for Kylie called ‘(Everything) I Know’…

Oh yeah! I love that song. That was the first song we ever made together.

Oh, even before ‘White Diamond’?

Yes, we did ‘(Everything) I know’ the first day we worked together.

So I have this theory that Kylie’s best album hasn’t happened yet because she usually works with so many different people on each album, that they end up being not very cohesive or consistent and she just needs to sit down with one person and work on a whole record with them. You know, like, with someone like… you.

From your mouth to Kylie’s ears! Maybe after this album comes out and it’s a massive smash [he laughs]… maybe that’ll happen. We still write together and we actually recorded a duet together a year ago, which is so fucking amazing but the problem is that it sounds like nothing she’s doing and nothing I’m doing. It’s got this kind of Depeche Mode sexy vibe…. It’s so good! It’s called [redacted] - but please please please don’t mention the name – and, goddamn, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done together. And I don’t just say that about any song – I mean, I write a lot of songs but this one is just so good. I play it all the time. My friends in L.A. play it all the time at parties. They all know it and they’re all crazy about it but nobody can have it. I can’t wait to hear her new stuff. I think it’s going to be awesome - she’s really stoked. And you know? I think you’re right – I think we’d make a really good record together.

OK, finally – you’re just about to tread the boards on Broadway in the musical ‘Kinky Boots’. Have you ever done anything like that before?

I did a play in L.A. a couple of years ago [Martin Sherman’s Bent] which really changed my life. But I don’t think of myself as an actor. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it but I learned a lot from doing ‘Bent’ so I’m glad I did that. And I’m really excited about doing Kinky Boots – I’m ready to jump in. I mean, sure, I’m nervous even though I know I don’t have any reason to be. I’ll be fine. But I have a lot of work to do. My accent is definitely coming along!

Jake Shears joins the cast of Kinky Boots on Broadway between 8 January 2018 and 1 April 2018. Boys Keep Swinging is out on 20 February 2018.