It is perhaps less of a homecoming than a reintroduction. Either way, playing Louisville this weekend on a bill with Lady Gaga will give former Lexingtonian Scott Hoffman the chance to show pop fans in and around his former home exactly what his music is about.
Admittedly, such illumination should hardly seem necessary. Hoffman, 34, is better known to global pop audiences as Babydaddy, and his group, Scissor Sisters, has been an international sensation for close to eight years. Still, Scissor Sisters went through enough of an unintended hiatus before the release of its third album, Night Work, that a bit of a refresher course seems in order. And playing close to home on a bill with such an immensely visible star as Lady Gaga will give Hoffman and his Scissor Sisters pals a grand platform to play catch-up.
"It's going to be great," Hoffman said. "And it's going to be especially great to come back on this level. I think we've only played Lexington once, back at The Dame (in December 2004). I don't think we've played Kentucky at all since then, so it will be great to be back with this kind of show."
The performance at The Dame caught Scissors Sisters just as the band's popularity, stirred from its 2004 self-titled debut album, had spread to the United States. Although based in New York (as is Lady Gaga), the band had created a feverish fan base in the United Kingdom thanks to one of the great hybrid hits of its day, a disco-drenched cover of Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. An appearance on Saturday Night Live preceded the show at The Dame by less than a week.
The fervor broadened when a follow-up album, Ta-Dah, was released in 2006. Boasting contributions by Elton John and longtime David Bowie guitarist Carlos Alomar, the record became an immediate No. 1 hit in England and Ireland, yielding a chart-topping single (I Don't Feel Like Dancin') and what arguably stands as the group's finest party-savvy creation, Land of a Thousand Words.
That is when things got a bit dicey. The group — especially Hoffman and vocalist Jake Shears, who write nearly all of the band's music — spent 18 months writing and recording material for a third album, only to shelve the project. During that time, Scissor Sisters drummer Paddy Boom quietly (and, from all reports, amicably) left the group.
"People keep referring to that period as 'time off,'" Hoffman said. "But it definitely wasn't time off, especially not for me and Jake. We were working daily making music.
"It was sort of a blessing and a curse making the third record. Along with our success, we had earned the freedom to do whatever we wanted. But then again, it was also a case of 'OK, what is it that we want and what do people expect of us to come back at them with?'
"We knew what would kill our career was to come back with a third album that sounded like the other two. It might have turned out to be commercially successful at the time, but doing that wasn't going to give us a future. We needed to reinvent. We needed to rediscover what it was that we loved about what we do."
Co-produced by Stuart Price and sporting a 1979 Robert Mapplethorpe photo of dancer Peter Reed's butt as cover art, Night Work tightened the band's overall sound and further blurred the distinction between dance-pop and harder rock influences. The vocal sparring between Shears and Ana Matronic was left largely intact.
"It sounds like such a cliché, but when we go on the road now, we feel like we're a force to be reckoned with," Hoffman said. "We feel more together than we ever have as a band. We have a whole history of music now that can choose from and play, so we feel very confident. And that is really all you can ask for.
"So playing in Kentucky with Lady Gaga will be a great way to, hopefully, introduce what we do to new fans. Of course, this is her tour. But the shows feel like a New York City party has descended on the rest of the country. To bring that vibe to Kentucky will really be fun."