Born Jason Sellards in Mesa, Arizona in 1978, Shears grew up in the Phoenix suburbs, and also spent time living on San Juan Island, Washington, a community just north of Seattle. As a child, his mother took him to see the fantasy film Labyrinth, where he first became fascinated with David Bowie
. He discovered Rocky Horror Picture Show, and by his teens was taking guitar lessons with longtime Seattle punk rocker Paul Solger, who introduced him to the Ramones
and Iggy and the Stooges. He formed his first band, and at age 15 came out as gay to his parents. While music was an early passion, he studied fiction writing at The New School's Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts after high school. Also during this period, he worked as a go-go dancer at a gay bar, and interned at Paper magazine.
Around 2001, inspired by the burgeoning electroclash scene, he adopted the stage name Jake Shears, and paired with longtime friend, keyboardist Scott Hoffman (aka Babydaddy) to form the arty pop outfit Scissor Sisters
(a name inspired by a cheeky term for lesbian sex). They attracted audiences by performing in wild costumes, singing along to a pre-recorded synth track. Soon, they expanded to a full line-up featuring singer Ana Lynch (aka Ana Matronic), guitarist Derek Gruen (aka Del Marquis), and drummer Patrick Seacor (aka Paddy Boom). The band's debut album, Scissor Sisters, was a breakthrough, showcasing their combination of '70s-style glitter rock, house music, synthy electroclash sounds, and singer/songwriter pop. It was a breakthrough success, especially in the U.K., where it peaked at number one on the albums chart. Over the next eight years, Shears toured and recorded with Scissor Sisters
, releasing a handful of well-received albums that culminated in 2012's Magic Hour.
Around this time, the band went on hiatus and Shears moved with his then-boyfriend, director Chris Moukarbel to Los Angeles. Separated from longtime Scissor Sisters
collaborator Hoffman, he went through several years of creative limbo before returning to the spotlight. After breaking up with Moukarbel in 2015, he struck out on his own, splitting his time between New Orleans and Los Angeles. He took on theater work, appearing in a staging of the Martin Sherman play Bent, and made his Broadway debut starring in the musical Kinky Boots. In 2018, he also authored his memoir, Boys Keep Swinging. That same year, he released his debut solo album, Jake Shears, which included the single "Creep City." ~ Matt Collar