OK, so he's still crazy about vino and the ladies, but things have started to change, at least melodically, for this once puppy-faced but increasingly bear-looking, straight singer-songwriter. In the '90s and early '00s, he penned haunting odes of sweet ladylove in songs like "Barely Breathing" and "On a High." Now, with his new album, White Limousine, he's singing about red states and shopping. Has this super-emo guy gone even softer? Before his Friday-night concert at the Aladdin Theater, I had the chance to chat him up over the phone and find out.
Queer Window: What do you find more challenging to write about, politics or personal relationships?
Duncan Sheik: This record was an attempt to see where the personal and the political intersect. I made a list of scenes about which one could reasonably write a song in terms of affecting me as a songwriter and a group of listeners. It was long list running the gamut from family issues to capitalism to war heroes.
But on your new album you ditch your usual relationship stuff to comment on the current state of affairs and—gulp—sound a little queer.
Three songs on my new CD are politically charged in some way. That's three out of 12 songs, so it's really only a quarter of the record.
But it's a quarter more than you've done before.
The few bad reviews I've got were from people who were angry I wasn't overtly political enough or think the entire record is one long rant.
Those reviews aren't just bad—they're mean-spirited. Is it because you're a Bush basher who's openly courting a queer audience?
Yeah, some of the reviews were really mean, but what can you do? At the risk of making a bad stereotype, I think gay music listeners have a more sophisticated taste.
I know women swoon for you, but guys swoon, too. Does it ever get too weird?
Rarely have I been in a "weird" situation, but I do remember one time when I was going to a show. There was this strange and somewhat obese man who was waiting at the theater. He was like, "Do you remember me?" And I said, "I'm afraid I don't." As I introduced myself, he hands me a card from the Vault [a notorious NYC gay sex club] and says, "Maybe this will jog your memory." To which I said, "I have to go inside and do sound check right now."
Duncan Sheik plays Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-1994. 8 pm Friday, Feb. 10. $16.50 advance, $18 day of show. All ages.