by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
In 1996, when Duncan Sheik released his self-titled debut album with its centerpiece single 'Barely Breathing,' he may have been dismissed as a one hit wonder. But 17 years later, the New Jersey-born artist has Tony and Grammy Awards under his belt, film projects in the works, live theater productions happening overseas, and still continues to write new material for his solo career, like his forthcoming album Ledger Domain, that is scheduled to be out in a few short months. Sheik is undoubtedly a busy, busy man. Keeping him more occupied is a sliver of tour dates, in the weeks ahead, that includes an appearance at The Triple Door here in Seattle. (For show information, visit www.thetripledoor.net.) I connected with the singer-songwriter-composer, who's spoken with Seattle Gay News on two previous occasions, by phone, and he provided insight into his upcoming performance, his new musical American Psycho and his ongoing support of the Gay community.
Here's what Duncan Sheik shared with me inside The Music Lounge.
Albert Rodriguez: Are you going to lean heavily on your covers album (Covers 80s) for The Triple Door show?
Duncan Sheik: No, I actually won't. I'll do some of them, they're fun. The shows I've been doing recently - the shows I did at 54 Below and the show I just played in London a couple weeks ago - it's a set of theater songs that includes Spring Awakening and American Psycho and The Nightingale and Whisper House and some other theater stuff that Steven Sater and I have been working with that no one's seen or heard yet. So there's a mini set of that material, then there's a set of Duncan Sheik catalog stuff, and then there's a mini set of brand new material from the new record.
Rodriguez: When you say 'Duncan Sheik catalog stuff,' are you referring to all the way back to 'Barely Breathing?'
Sheik: Um, yeah. I'll throw that in there if people want me to play it. Now that I have 8 or 9 albums worth of material, it gets tricky to figure out what to play from the catalog. I want to play the songs that are cool and sound really good live, but I don't wanna play things that people have heard time and time again.
Rodriguez: I've been reading reviews for American Psycho and they're all really, really good. So congrats on that!
Sheik: Thank you. There were a couple that weren't that good (laughs), but they were mostly really, really good. I knew it was going to be a little bit controversial and I wanted it to be polarizing, so I learned not to be careful for what you wish for.
Rodriguez: What are the plans for it? How long will it stay in London, and what is the possibility or future of it coming to America?
Sheik: Right now, the probability is that it will transfer to the West End in London, and then depending on how that goes, we would bring it to Broadway at some point, maybe next fall, I don't know. But it would be a total random prediction for me to say exactly if and when it's going to come to the States. I think it should, I certainly want it to, but I definitely want to see how it does on the West End first.
Rodriguez: What can you tell us about Spring Awakening, the film adaptation?
Sheik: We are talking about it every week and Playtone, our producers, are very gung-ho and McG, the director, is very gung-ho about shooting this coming spring and summer. Again, I hesitate to say it's definitely happening until it actually happens, you never know - Hollywood being Hollywood - but hope springs eternal and no one would be happier than me for that movie to be shot this spring.
Rodriguez: Has the cast been selected, or has it progressed that far?
Sheik: Yeah, there have been casting conversations and there have been some well-known actors that are certainly interested, but there's nothing I can really announce.
Rodriguez: Where do you keep your Tonys and Grammys?
Sheik: I have a country house and a recording studio in Garrison, New York and there's kind of a 1920s bar, like a bureau that I just have a bunch of workbooks and paintings sitting on top of it, and in the middle of all those stacks of stuff you might find them somewhere in there hiding amongst a bunch of bric-a-brac (laughs).
Rodriguez: Do you keep up with current pop trends? Do you like what's played on the radio or YouTube?
Sheik: Some things more than others. I'm kind of an anglophile in my musical tastes, so the things I've been listening to lately are like James Blake and there's a young band from the UK called Wild Beasts that I like a lot, and I like the Lorde single - I think she's really talented and really cool, an interesting girl. And then, of course, there's some boring commercial, over-produced nonsense and I just try to ignore it.
Rodriguez: I know you're a huge LGBT supporter, so what's been your reaction to this Gay marriage trend happening across the country?
Sheik: Well, I think it's great and hope it continues. It looks like it's going to continue. My friend James Lecesne is one of the people who started The Trevor Project, and one of the songs on my new album is called 'I Wish for the Sun' and the lyric of the song repeatedly says, 'Come out, come out, come out,' so I'm trying to get James to use that as a theme song for Coming Out Day, which I think already happened. But yes, I'm a huge supporter and I think it's great.
Rodriguez: I wanted to reaffirm to our readers that you're straight, because there's many Gay men that probably want to date you. I feel we have to reaffirm that, so that they don't get excited.
Sheik: (laughs) I'm really flattered and & um ... well, what can I say?, I'm flattered. And, you never know what's going to happen. Things can change, right? (laughs again). We all live in a kind of fluid continuum of sexuality, I think.
Rodriguez: It's not the same big straight world it was 15 years ago, around the time you launched your music career.
Sheik: It's been an enormous cultural shift and it's interesting how it's in the past. It feels like the last 3 or 4 years that the pendulum actually tipped over in a certain way. This new generation of people doesn't make the distinction between Gay and straight the way previous generations did, and that's really great.
Rodriguez: Since you're playing Seattle now on this brief tour and later this year, there's a possibility of a broader national tour, will Seattle be excluded from that tour?
Sheik: No, no, not at all. It all depends on logistics and what the energy is like around the new album, and if people are psyched about it or not. Hopefully, I'll be back a couple times in 2014.
Rodriguez: Do you have any fond memories, or not so fond memories, of Seattle from the times you've played here?
Sheik: I've played in Seattle since my first record came out, since '96, and there have been great memories. The real problem for me is that I'm always on my way to another city, so I never feel like I have enough down time to explore more parts of Seattle. But I think this time I have a day off.
Rodriguez: Seattle is one of the top 3 U.S. cities for live theater. It'd be great to launch a new musical here someday.
Sheik: I know. Bart (Bartlett) Sher is a friend, and, of course, he's no longer at the Intiman, but I would love to do something in Seattle. It's always an ongoing conversation, for sure.
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