I first met Matt Goss at the LA Confidential Emmy Party Red Carpet, he was being honored as their ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’, as well as one of the city’s ‘Most Kinetic Innovators’. I decided to take Goss up on his invitation to see his show in the new Gossy Room at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where he headlines accompanied by his dancers, The Dirty Virgins, and a nine piece band. It was well worth the four-hour desert drive!
Before heading into Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars, the area of the casino that is home to the Gossy Room, I met Matt Goss to ask him a few questions about his show. If I had to sum up my experience chatting with him in one word it would be this: Charming.
Matt Goss is the type of performer who can win over a crowd before he even speaks. His good looks (clearly an understatement), soft-spoken demeanor, and winning smiling are a start. Then he sings…and it’s all over from there. The man whose tattoo reads ‘civility costs nothing’ truly is as humble and grateful as he is talented. It’s no wonder that he was the youngest performer to play Wembley Stadium in the UK and has sold over 17 million records worldwide.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to be an entertainer?
A: When I was young, just a kid, my Aunt Sally used to sing all the time and I would try to out sing her. I didn’t really know what a performer was, I just knew I liked to sing. At the time, I actually wanted to be an actor so I did this performance with my acting teacher Jane Roberts, who was an incredible inspiration to me. It was a production of Cabaret and I thought, ‘Oh this is weird, I can sing and I can sing in tune’. I remember Jane said, ‘You’ve got a nice tone and you should cultivate that’. My (twin) brother was in a band so I asked to join. I asked…but he said I had to try out, so here I am trying out for this his bloody band of my brothers. I auditioned and I was in and then I was in about 7 or 8 bands before Bros had our first number one record in the UK when I was nineteen.
Q: What was that like to have so much success at such a young age?
A: It was amazing. You know, you hear of the top forty growing up and you go, ‘Oh my God, you dream of being in the top forty’ and we were told we were going to be #40, so just make it. The chart came on and number forty plays and it’s not us and we are so, so disappointed thinking we didn’t make it and then comes #39 and it’s us. We start jumping up and down and are so excited that we’d made it and it’s our debut song and then that song stayed in the charts for something like 87 weeks. It was ridiculous, it just wouldn’t go away and it ended up being number one.
Q: What made you decide to have a solo career?
A: It’s a fickle business the music business and we would always go to the top five roughly in the charts when we released a new song. Then, one time we went in at I think #9 and there was all this talk among people saying, ‘Oh, maybe they’re slipping’. I remember my brother said, ‘You know what, we can’t maintain this’. I mean, we played Wembley stadium to 70,000 people, we were the youngest band to do this. There would always be critics and it was just a good time for my brother to bow out and go and do other things that interested him. Primarily, I think he was just tired of being behind a drum kit. As a singer, I always got to feel the audience on a different level. So he went into acting and I stayed singing.
Q: How did you end up in Las Vegas?
A: I was making a record called Gossy and it was self-financed. I decided to make a record that didn’t have an A & R guy form a record company hanging over me. I just wanted to make a record under my own rules. I wrote songs like Evil,The Day We Met, and Firefly- the songs I use in the show. It was a strange thing; it was one of those moments where I just did it and then Robin Antin… I knew Robin just to say hi to basically at the time (now Goss’ agent), said she wanted to hear the album. I was just a song or two in but she heard it and said, ‘America has got to hear your voice’. So we showed it to Michael Greco at the Palms (VP of Entertainment) and George Maloof (Owner) and they saw the video for Evil and said, ‘We want to meet you tomorrow, can you fly in tomorrow?’. I said, ‘Yes’. They saw the video and they loved what they saw and then I met with them they said, ‘Can you do a show in Vegas’, and I again I said, ‘Yes’. Three days went by and basically I didn’t hear anything and then Michael called and said, ‘If you don’t get this show, I’m going to give you my watch’. I said, ‘I will take your watch because I collect watches’. The next day he calls me up and says. ‘I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news’. I said, ‘Give me the bad news first’. He said, ‘You’re not getting my watch, welcome to Las Vegas’. And that was it. Nearly a year later, Gary Selesner (President of Caesars Palace) came in and said, ‘I want you at Caesars and that was that.
Q: You collect watches, what is your favorite?
A: Patek Phillipe, I have a 5712R and that’s probably my favorite but my favorite watches are Patek. My watches saved my life in a strange way. I sold one every few months to keep myself going after the band because for a while, my assets were frozen. We’d gone through a moment that was kind of strange financially. We’d made millions and lost millions and my watches kind of kept me going. It was hairy for a while, but I managed to get a big record deal a couple of years after I split from the band and came to America but the watches kind of kept my journey going. I think if you can, then buy a good watch, and I think most fellas like a good watch. I have a few really beautiful watches but this is my workhorse (tapping the Patek on his wrist).
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to headline at one of the most famous landmarks on the strip, alongside Caesars performers including Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Elton John?
A: It’s pretty phenomenal. We create a lot of noise out of that little room, The Gossy Room, and it gets mentioned all over the world. I’ve been told it’s like PR gold which makes me proud. For example, I just did a Ciroc Vodka campaign with P. Diddy and he’s aware of my show because of the press and the vibe. He told me, ‘I’m a big fan of your swagger’ and I’m a huge fan of what he does. In the spot, Ciroc showcases a new Rat Pack and I’m one of the guys. (The spot includes Frank Vincent-The Sopranos, Aaron Paul- Breaking Bad, Jesse Williams- Grey’s Anatomy, Chad Michael Murray- One Tree Hill, Kenneth Williams- The Wire.)
Q: I’m about to go to The Gossy Room to see your show, what can I expect?
A: I sing from my heart. You’re going to see honest music, honest performance and you’re going to see sexy woman, The Dirty Virgins, my dancers. People assume that only woman like the show (evidenced by the screaming British bachelorette party I experienced in the first row) but the thing is that fellas always obviously love the ladies in my show but they also always like the music because it’s so honest. It appeals to everyone. Nothing is to tape, all the performances are live. Yesterday, my guitarist had his guitar completely stuff up and I just got down on my knees and made up a song about him freaking out. It was fun, and I thought, can you screw up every night so we can do this!
Q: You just performed back in the UK at Royal Albert Hall and The Savoy and debuted some of your new songs. What was it like being back overseas?
A: It’s amazing. I’m proud of this town. To come here (to Vegas) as a stranger to this amazing city… this town has really taken me under its wings. So to be able to take a piece of this town back to London it’s amazing; it’s a win-win for me. I get to take this town and say to London, look, this is what we do. And then, all my band is from Vegas, completely American, so to take the boys and girls to London and watch their faces is amazing. When Isaac, my friend and trumpet player, says to me, ‘This is the biggest gig I’ve ever done in my life’ and to have that moment, to watch his face, I wait for those things. That’s a blessing for me, truly, and I’m not just saying that. That’s what I get out of all this, in a way. I get to see my cast get off a plane and we hang out and have a pint in the pub and then get to play The Savoy Hotel which is a landmark. The Albert Hall is obviously a beautiful venue and we had a great time there but at The Savoy we did dinner and a show and it was a very decadent evening. I think we represented Las Vegas very well.
Q: You’re song Lovely Las Vegas attracted the attention of NASCAR for its campaign. What inspired you to write this?
A: I wrote Lovely Las Vegas because I genuinely wanted a song that had swagger to it and that wasn’t nuts. It had to have swagger but also a bit of elegance. I didn’t think for a second that NASCAR would be the first to come aboard and say we want to use it in our campaign. Then once that spot went out, I’ve got guys saying how they saw my song on TV, these real petrol-heads! I love cars; I drive an Aston Martin, and I’m a complete car nut as well, so to have those guys support was just a very surprising partnership. I loved working with NASCAR and when I went out to the racetrack to perform and there were over 100,000 people there, I think we really got them going. I think I have a knack of shrinking venues and we always have fun.
Q: You were just named the ‘Sexiest Man in Las Vegas’. Seems to be a pattern, how do these compliments make you feel?
A: It’s all a bit weird, that stuff is odd to me because I am a cheeky person but my mom would slap me in the face if she thought I was getting a big head. I just genuinely don’t feel like….okay, it’s nice to come out of a long relationship and maybe be called an eligible bachelor because maybe it forces the issue a little bit, makes you feel a bit better. But I don’t really buy into any of that stuff. I’m grateful for it absolutely but I get kind of embarrassed to be honest with you.
Q: You are working on a new record now. Can you tell us a about that?
A: I’m doing a record right now with Ron Fair who has produced artists like Mary J. Blige, U2, Chrisina Aquilera, and Black Eyed Peas. He’s done some incredible records. He used to be the chairman of Geffen Records and now the first record he’s doing outside of that situation is my record. We really are making a beautiful album. Its’ going to be very glamorous; it’s going to have a lot of swag to it. It’s going to have edge but it’s definitely going to be decadent pop. We really want it finished by the first of January. My working title is…listen this is probably not going to be the title, but my working title is Midnight Conversations. Basically what happens is…and I wish it was like a booty call situation (laughs) but it isn’t unfortunately. It’s at midnight or one in the morning I’ll call Robin or one of my managers and go, ‘Does this sound all right?’ and they’ll either say, ‘Keep going it’s great or it needs work’. If they say it needs work I’m like, ‘DELETE’ ‘ and I start again… but it will be late, so Midnight Conversations. But there is another song I wrote on the album called Mustang about comparing love to a Mustang. One of the lines is, ‘Have you ever seen a Mustang inside a fence’. To me, love is something that you have to allow happen. You have to have the courage to leave the gate open and if they run away, let them run, and if they come back then you know. l think you have to allow the other person that freedom. I don’t believe in being too possessive. Jealousy in the tiniest, tiniest amount I think is okay because it shows you genuinely care but the real thing to me, true love, is when you respect somebody enough and say if you think that you’re going to hurt me then tell me. I think my perspective on love is in a good place right now. You know, I am single but I do want to find love. I don’t do drugs, I live my life a certain way, but I really am a hopeless romantic. I want this record to be very rejoiceful. I don’t want to write any tortured songs. So I’m between Midnight Conversations and Mustang for the title…got a bit off track there, but I like the word Mustang so I don’t know, we’ll see.
Q: When you are not performing where do you spend your free time? Charity work, hobbies?
A: I just did a show for Opportunity Village earlier and actually just got back. I don’t really like to talk in depth about my charity work but I do support and do charity work. I also love to draw and design. I have a jewelry line called Matt Goss that is in Geary’s on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I design all the pieces with my business partner. We do have watches but they are not part of the high-end line.
Q: In addition to your singing career, you are a best-selling author and there is a documentary currently being made about your life. Can you tell us about that?
A: We are in the middle of developing that documentary. We did a lot of filming but as anyone who has worked in TV will tell you, it’s ever-changing. It’s become a bit more high-brow, very stylized, and it’s going into a place that I really love. So it’s still in development but it is moving forward. I work with a company called Pulse Films on that. A few years ago, I wrote my best-selling auto-biography but now I am also writing children’s books. The book I am writing now is a series called Bear Crimbo. I definitely want to explore more writing.
Q: You write all of your own music, as well as for other artists. Some of your songs have been featured recently in TV and on stage, any that you are particularly proud of?
A: I wrote Change Me for Keri Hilson and Akon. I wrote the song for the finale and the main debut for a production in Paris called Cleopatra. It’s the equivalent of Broadway in Paris and a the composer (the Parisian equivalent of Andrew Lloyd Webber) wrote the orchestra to only my song. I also wrote the theme song for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.
Q: In your live show you are accompanied by a nine piece band but you also play many of your own instruments. What is your favorite?
A: I play a lot of instruments badly. My favorite…the organ, no I am just being rude! (The cheekiness he mentioned earlier) I play guitar mainly, a little bit of drums, a bit of bass. On the Gossy album, I play a minimum of seventy percent of all the music so it was fun. I was like a crazy professor.
Q: You mentioned that before your music career you wanted to be an actor. You recently did a bit of acting in the Ciroc campaign, any plans to continue with that?
A: It’s funny, Frank Vincent (The Sopranos) said to me, ‘You’ve got a solid presence on screen, you should think about getting into a bit of acting’. I love singing too much, but I wouldn’t mind dabbling in it. We shot the Ciroc Rat Pack spot and it would be cool if that could turn into a bigger story.
One story is for certain. The Gossy Room is the original home of greats like Frank Sinatra and Matt Goss is certainly bringing back the Rat Pack swagger to Vegas. Goss is correct about his knack for making big venues feel small. He equally makes this small venue feel like he is singing to only you!