Matt Goss, singer songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about his search for love, performing for Joe Biden, his residency at Caesars Palace Las Vegas and his forthcoming new studio album.
Matt Goss is an English singer songwriter and musician, who is currently based in Las Vegas.
He was the lead singer of 1980s pop group Bros, which also featured his twin brother Luke as drummer, and Craig Logan as bass player. They split in 1993 and he has since then pursued a solo career.
In 2009, it was announced that he would be playing live shows at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. By January 2010, the live show had moved to Caesars Palace, playing at Cleopatra’s Barge every Friday and Saturday night. He has a residency there since that date.
Goss signed a record deal with Decca Records for the UK release of his most recent studio album Life You Imagine which was produced by Ron Fair (Lady Gaga, U2, Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera). They also enlisted the services of a forty piece Hollywood orchestra. The album, released in 2013, also included a big band version of Bros’ single, When Will I Be Famous?
His single, Gone Too Long was released internationally in order to coincide with his return to Wembley Arena, London which took place on October 1st.
Prior to performing at The Alea Casino Nottingham, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.
Hi Matt how are you?
Hi Kevin, I’m good but exhausted although I have to say that it is good to be exhausted through work (laughter).
I understand that belated birthday greetings are in order for the 29th September?
Thanks for that. I have to say that I don’t remember much about it due to rehearsing, being at the BBC and also appearing on Lorraine in the morning but from what I can remember I had a good day (laughter).
So apart from being exhausted just how is life treating you?
Life at the moment is amazing. My music is all over the world and I am now feeling like a bona fide solo artist. I have been asked to sing for some of the most powerful and influential people in the world, for example I got to sing for the late Muhammad Ali and I have just recently performed for Vice President Joe Biden over in the USA. I have to date this year played two hundred and fifty shows in Las Vegas and I will be playing to a sold out crowd at Wembley Arena tomorrow night. So as you can see, life is treating me very well at this moment in time. I am a lot more relaxed now than I have ever been.
I understand that you are releasing a single this weekend. What can you tell me about it?
That’s right I am. It’s called Gone Too Long and I truly do believe that it is a beautiful song. I wrote it, produced it, and arranged it and I even played every instrument on this song. I have also just directed the video so there is nobody on that record except myself. I needed that experience so I didn’t need any pull or push in the studio. From sitting down and writing the song to actually recording it took me just two weeks and within four weeks I had directed the video.
And what stage are you at regarding a new studio album?
The album is all written, the writing is all finished and I am currently recording it as we speak.
I hear that you are recording the album with someone quite special?
(Laughter) who told you that. Yes, that’s right I am recording the album with the John Pizzarelli Quartet. Anyone who knows anything about jazz will know of John’s work and the fact that only the greatest players in the world manage to get to work with him. Obviously I am a huge fan of John’s work and we are so blessed to be recording the album at the legendary Capitol Studios where some of the greats have recorded, people like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.
When will you be releasing the album?
We are hoping to have a single out sometime in late November or early December and then the album should be out just in time for Christmas.
Do you have a title for the album?
I do but if I told you that I would have to kill you (laughter).
I have been playing your 2013 album Life You Imagine for a couple of years now and I have to say that I love it.
Thank you so much, that means such a lot.
Were you happy with how well it was received?
Yes I was. It was the number one album both in the UK and in the States so I can’t really complain about that. It was great to have the LA Philharmonic Orchestra working with me on that album. I also had a twenty seven piece brass section with me and it all felt so cool and so good. I received some lovely compliments regarding the last album, especially for the song I Do. iTunes put out a statement saying that it was the quintessential proposal song and Ron Fair said that he considered that with that song I had contributed to the American Songbook.
When you wrote I Do did you realise that you had written something special at the time?
To be totally honest with you, no I didn’t. I Do is one of those songs that when I listen to it I can’t actually remember writing it. It was influenced by everything and everyone that I loved while I was growing up with my grand-dad; people like Mel Torme, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole it just has such pace to it. The most wonderful feeling was that once I had finished recording that song I got a standing ovation from the LA Philharmonic Orchestra; that was simply amazing. It is such a beautiful sight seeing an orchestra and a twenty seven piece brass section playing one of your song. It was wonderful when iTunes put out that statement as they do not usually comment on songs.
You have mentioned Ron Fair, just what was it like having Ron on board?
Ron Fair is great. Listen, I loved working with Ron and now I have had that experience. We butted heads in the best possible way and we would continuously butt heads simply because we are both perfectionists. We would both have to agree on one chord, it was one of those records. It was fun working with him on that record and Face My Fears is about as authentic New Orleans blues swing that you can possibly get.
And you got to play someone special’s piano on the album too?
That’s totally correct. I got to play Nat King Cole’s piano on the album over in the Capitol Studios.
Staying with the previous album for one minute I have to say that I love what you have done with When Will I Be Famous?
Thank you. I have been doing a swing version of When Will I Be Famous? now for almost eight years over in Las Vegas and I wanted to do that classic mid 60’s swing on that song simply because I wanted to take ownership of that song. It goes down so well, especially when I mess around with the audience with it (laughter). I was seventeen years old when I first recorded that song. It is a very famous song, and it’s certainly a lot more famous than I am (laughter). However, it feels nice to have a song that you can put new life into and quite honestly within the next year I will most probably do another different version of it. That’s what songs are supposed to do, they are supposed to grow with you as you grow.
Am I to take it that the Las Vegas life style suite you?
I have a home in Los Angeles and a home in Las Vegas but I still do have a home here in the UK. I spend most of my time travelling between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I personally think that the community in Las Vegas is really beautiful. People get confused; yes, Las Vegas does have The Strip but it also has another two and a half million people living there that are not part of it.
What does Matt Goss do out in Las Vegas whenever he has any down time?
I tend to go out to a place called Red Rock Canyon which is full of beautiful canyons and rock formations. All of those beautiful rock formations that you see on those high end art pieces are all shot in Red Rock Canyon. You can see waterfalls and even wild mustangs roaming free. What I love to do is hire a helicopter for me and my friends and we land it in the middle of the Grand Canyon and treat ourselves to a picnic for four hours (laughter). You see things that you could never imagine, it is so beautiful. I have to say that it is also quite sexy landing a chopper in the middle of the Grand Canyon. I have had a couple of really nice dates like that and let me tell you, it always works (laughter).
In 2005 you released your autobiography More Than You Know, was that something that you felt you had to do?
At that time yes, it was but the frustrating thing is that I now want to write another five chapters (laughter). The first one ended in a certain way and I now have so much more to say. I guess that is testament to my success. Success to me is my longevity. Some people have a hit record and then you never see or hear of them again but for me I have been doing this for over three decades now and I have been in the press on average every other month for over thirty years. So the nice thing for me is walking around the UK and having people shout “hi Matty” or having them ask me for a hug. I really do love that.
Is there someone special in your life who you can share these moments with?
My life is all about memories; what people were doing then, what they are doing now and how many people have stayed with me and have allowed me to grow as a man. I am very much a man with a very youthful spirit. I’m single and I really do want to find my girl who is youthful, loyal, loving and supportive. I want to share my life with someone because I really do have some extraordinary moments. As I said earlier, I have just performed for Joe Biden the Vice President of the United States and although I had all of my staff there with me I thought that it would be so nice if it was just me and my girl.
Then later in life we could sit and chat and perhaps say “do you remember that day we met Vice President Joe Biden over in the USA”. I have simply got to start having those conversations rather than telling you about the things that I do.
So tell me, just how did you get to perform for Joe Biden the Vice President of the United States?
I had been invited to perform for Joe Biden by the Comcast Corporation which is the largest broadcasting and cable television company in the world. They could have asked anybody but thankfully they asked me. What you have to understand is that I am obsessed with American politics; I am genuinely obsessed with politics and I have quite strong opinions. To me, Joe Biden has managed to cross the boundaries of both parties Republican and Democrat and because of that he is a loved man. I recommend that everybody go online and read a thing called A Note To Self by Joe Biden. It will give you an insight into who the man is. It is just a four minute video where he reads a letter that he wrote to himself. Having said all of that I am still a very proud British man.
I have heard that you are a staunch Loyalist?
Yes I am and no matter where I am in the world I will always try to fly the flag as much as I can. I recently went to the Creech Air Force Base over in America and there were a lot of British solders there and I like to do as much as I can for our troops. I am a loyalist and I love lovey Liz. It is when you are abroad that you realise exactly what she does for this country. When you see how things are done overseas we really must take care of our doctors and nurses. When you see the respect from a serviceman or a fireman then you must put our doctors and nurses even higher. These are people who try to bring somebody who they do not know back to good health. They are our national treasure so we really must look after them.
I couldn’t possibly speak to you without mentioning Bros. The band were active between 1986 and 1993, were they good times?
They were without doubt some of the best times of my life. I still don’t know if anyone has ever come close to what me and my brother did with regards to mania (laughter). This part of the country, the Midlands and the North of England actually broke Bros; they were the first people to buy our records and it’s here where ‘Bros Mania’ all started. That’s the phrase that people know together with the word Brosettes. Having been in Las Vegas for so long now, three quarters of a decade in Vegas, all of the fellas are now at ease with it. It’s an amazing thing when the fellas come up to me and tell me that they had the time of their lives with the same haircut as me, the ripped jeans, a white t-shirt and Dr Martins (laughter).
To be honest with you I loved that look and still try to carry it on in some small way. That band were a bona fide creator of memories. Me and my brother had the time of our lives in that band, it really was fun because it was a little bit risky in the fact that there was always mayhem, there was always police. We couldn’t go anywhere without there being legions of police with us. Everything that we did was always mayhem. Our fans were part of that craziness. They are brilliant memories and you don’t see things like that so much these days. It’s great to see that fans have made friends for life because of the band and that’s what makes me happy.
The album Push was everywhere.
Let’s face it, you simply can’t sell over two million copies of the album Push here in the UK alone which equates to one in every thirty people and remember that was just to females, without it being everywhere.
You are quoted as saying back in 2010 that there would never be a Bros reunion because that moment had passed. Is that still the case?
The thing is that me and my brother don’t like rumours; we don’t like living in a place full of rumours so if there was going to be a Bros reunion then it would come from my mouth or my brothers mouth. Me and my brother are actually getting along famously but we are perfectionists. We played our very last show at Wembley Stadium and over seventy thousand people turned up. It was one of those nights that is almost impossible to explain but it is still in my blood. What I will say is that if we did do it then it would have to be a spectacle. We would want people to be saying that they had to go to that concert because it was going to be nuts. So unless it comes from me or my brother then it is simply not true.
You mention the fans, is it true that they never need be alone when visiting Las Vegas or traveling around the world?
(Laughter) who told you that. Well, whether they are part of the Matt Goss Massive or the MGA which is the Matt Goss Army, the whole point of the MGA is that if you travel to Vegas by yourself and you put #MGA you will be looked after and you will not be alone. It doesn’t only work in Vegas it also works in France, Belgium, Italy and Japan. If you simply put #MGA you will be met at the airport and you will not be alone. It’s a worldwide little army that I have (laughter).
Who has been your biggest musical inspiration?
That’s a tough one. I would have to say a couple of people, first of all my family, my grand-dad Harry, my Aunt Sally and both my mum and my dad. My dad Alan had a lovely voice and my Aunt Sally had a phenomenal voice. She introduced me to singers like Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, which gave me my soul. My grand-dad introduced me to Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, who in my opinion had some of the greatest soul voices in history not just swing. You have got to have soul to sing those songs. I think that the way that Frank Sinatra delivered a lyric was phenomenal and I also think that the emotion that Stevie Wonder creates with the vision of his lyrics and the way that he tells stories is truly wonderful.
When you were eighteen could you have ever envisaged having such a long career?
To be honest with you I remember the decision we took bringing Bros to an end and it was mortifying because I was about to lose my job. However, I made the decision at that point to continue to be a singer. I wanted to be a singer and here we are some five weeks ago now I was singing to Joe Biden the Vice President of the United States Of America.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been a few highlights and again, I am still in awe of the fact that every time I think I have done something that is a highlight, something else happens. I would have to say that back when we very first started and we entered the top forty for the first time, we soon realised that we were actually selling somewhere in the region of five hundred thousand singles in the UK alone. I took a step back and thought “whoa, we are in the British charts”. I can remember driving past Hammersmith Odeon all of the time and thinking that I would love to perform there and when they put on our first ever tour we played five consecutive nights at Hammersmith Odeon (laughter).
Then the record company contacted us and said that they were adding an extra date and we thought six nights at Hammersmith Odeon is crazy but it wasn’t there it was at Wembley (laughter). We couldn’t even fathom that far ahead. Another highlight was us having the biggest selling debut album in the history of CBS Records. Playing for Her Majesty The Queen has to be right up there. One of the most incredible moments of my life was having lunch with the late Princess Diana. She was beautiful and I would have to say that she was one of the loves of my life, albeit from afar (laughter). To meet her, I just couldn’t believe it. I was there meeting her with The Bee Gees, it was simply amazing.
Moving on, Bros did a full word tour and I will never forget when we landed in Australia not knowing if people would know who we were and there were eleven thousand people waiting for us at Sydney airport. The same thing then happened to us when we arrived in Tokyo; it was truly amazing. These were places that I couldn’t even imagine going to. As a solo artists playing Carnegie Hall in New York with the Tokyo String Quartet was for me a beautiful experience. Recently playing the iconic Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. was amazing and for me to have my own residency at Caesars Palace in Vegas is simply wonderful. It simply goes on and on.
Hearing my record being played on the BBC a couple of nights ago and then yesterday morning and hearing Michael Ball saying great things about the record really does mean a lot to me. I still feel extremely fortunate to be able to be over in Los Angeles and sell out the Royal Albert Hall here in the UK within three minutes, and having such a wonderful thing to look forward to on the horizon. I am a huge believer in horizons and I believe that if you give someone something to look forward to, whether they are ill or well, then that translates into hope. For me I feel that there is definitely more to come in the near future.
I have had such great times in my life such as the time that I got to hang out all day with The Rolling Stones (laughter). Ronnie Wood asked me if he could wear my jacket on stage for the gig so I let him. After the show I met him backstage and he gave me back my jacket which they had all signed for me on the back. I have to say that Ronnie is one of the most humble rock stars that I have ever met. I spent four days with The Edge at his house and was woken up every morning by his kids bouncing all over me (laughter). Me and Edge went water skiing on the Irish Sea and I was wearing Larry’s (Mullen Jnr) wet-suit and we went into a pub soaking wet still wearing the wet-suit and the Edge was telling everyone to leave me alone. We had a pint in our wet-suits then got back into the speed boat and headed off back to the mainland. Great memories (laughter).
I’m disappointed with you. I asked you for a highlight and you have not mentioned Top Of The Pops (laughter).
(Laughter) okay, let’s talk about Top Of The Pops. I think that we played the show over twenty times during our career as Bros. I remember that when we were performing on Top Of The Pops it was the first time that we got to meet Terry Wogan. Top Of The Pops is just one of those moments where you just have to pinch yourself because you knew back then that you would be going out to the whole nation the same as The Terry Wogan Show. Sometime later he asked us to appear on The Wogan Show and there were eight thousand Bros fans outside during the show. Terry Wogan became a friend to me and he would always play my records on Radio Two.
I can remember hearing him say on the radio “good evening ladies and gentleman, let’s have a nice bit of Matt Goss” in that soft voice and beautiful tone that he had. I remember doing a live session on his show around two years ago now and after the show he personally gave everyone a handmade cookie that had been made by his lovely wife. He personally went around the studio making sure that everyone had a cookie. He was a wonderful, kind and caring man who is sorely missed.
At what point in your career did you feel the most musically satisfied?
I think that would have to be now. It was the Gossy album which opened the doors for me and got me into Vegas. It was another of the records that I made all by myself. I was like a mad scientist when I made that record (laughter). The casino bosses saw the video that I had made and immediately wanted me to perform in their casino. George J. Maloof Jr. who is the owner of the Palms Hotel rang me asking me if I would fly out to Vegas the following day, which I did. I had a meeting with all of the Maloof brothers when I told them that if I was to go and perform for them then I wanted them to call the room the Gossy Room, which was my part of the deal (laughter).
All credit to George for having the vision in me. Nine months after I had been working at The Palms, Caesars Palace came in and actually stated to the press that they had “stolen Matt Goss from The Palms” and now here I am after six and a half years at Caesars Palace.
When you first stepped out onto the stage at Caesars Palace were there any nerves when you thought back to all of the greats who had previous performed there?
I think that there were a few nerves when I first started because making a show for your audience is different because they know all of the words. So when I started performing over in Vegas I decided to go back to basics; there is no ego, you have got to make sure that you do a show that entertains. That is the number one priority on your list.
After six and a half years, are you still happy at Caesars Palace?
It’s funny that you should mention that but I can now officially announce that I am currently in negotiations with another very, very big casino. I am actually in negotiations right now to sign another very long contract. So for me I feel that there are exciting times ahead.
What was the last piece of music or song that made you cry?
I love that question. I think that the singer who always makes me cry is Donny Hathaway. Songs like Song For You and I Love You show that he was a very emotionally charged singer. You can see that he was tortured and whenever I listen to Donny it’s impossible to not feel like he meant every word of it. I think that the delivery of Frank Sinatra is second to none but for emotion I would have to say that Donny Hathaway always makes me cry. Also, I would have to mention The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack, which is a song which always gets to me. There is also a new song called Bloodstream by Stateless and it never fails to get me. It is all about feeling as though someone is in your blood and I love that kind of lyric.
Does Matt Goss have a half empty or half full glass?
Always half full, always. The second that you let fear into your life is the second that you will fail. Just believe that everything is possible.
Which three people past or present would you invite to a dinner party?
Winston Churchill, John Lennon and Audrey Hepburn.
On that note Matt let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.