Q&A: Matt Goss
Matt Goss is ending his six-year residence at the Gossy Room in Caesars Palace on Sept. 24, but he doesn’t plan to leave Vegas for good. After a homecoming arena show in his native England, where he first came to prominence as the frontman of chart-busting trio Bros, he’ll be looking for a Gossier Room to debut songs from his next album, which he’s described as “the record of his life.” Vegas is in his DNA now, as he told Matt Kelemen in an interview for Las Vegas Magazine.
I believe at this date you have 17 more shows, and should have a half-dozen left by the time this interview is published. How are you feeling as the final show approaches?
I’m very, very blessed. The day after my final show I fly to London, where I play Wembley. I get to go home. … but I will say this: I have never learned more than on that stage at Caesars Palace. It’s important that you let them know this, because the employees at Caesars Palace—concierge, room service, the maids—they’re my family. They are truly my family. And Gary Selesner, Jason, Damian, Paul—these are people who have become my family. … I’m going to be tremendously sad to leave Caesars Palace.
I read an interview in a British publication in which you talk about how comforting it was for the same people would meet you at the airport every time you arrived.
Whenever I pull up, there’s Richard. Whenever I pull up to Caesars, the valet guys … honestly, three or four of the valet guys, we always hug, give each other hugs. And as I walk in one of the heads of valet, she’s a small lady, blonde hair, she gives me a hug and a kiss every single show before I go in. A couple of security guards meet me, we walk through. We have a little banter.
On a personal level, what are you leaving behind?
That’s the last place in America my mom saw me before she passed away. My mother’s DNA is in that room. My father’s DNA is in that room. Both of my brothers’ DNA is in that room. It’s so much more than a show. It’s family in every sense of the word. It’s blood, sweat and tears. My blood has dripped on that stage. My sweat and my tears have dripped on that stage.
Six years is a pretty good run, and a good time to go out on top.
It’s very, very true. It’s a very long time, and it’s not like I’m going out because the shows aren’t selling. The truth be told, is the show has to grow. Probably need another hundred seats.
What has being a longtime Vegas done for your career, and your vocal style?
There’s good and bad, to be honest with you. On the negative side, I’m doing 200-plus shows a year, and I’m doing a two-hour show. It does take a toll on your voice, so you end up not singing as much at home because you want to preserve your voice. On the many, many upsides, when you play Vegas you have to check your ego at the door, because if there’s any ego onstage, you’re not thinking about your audience. One thing about an audience in Vegas is a lot of people know who you are, but some people have no clue who you are and they’re there because they’ve read a review and they want to see what you’re all about. You can’t get bent out of shape about that. You’ve got to be respectful that you’re in Vegas, and 40 million people come through every year. What it taught me was composure, humility on stage, where if you hear something behind you or you hear a glass smash, or you hear somebody heckling, drunk, you just have to make it part of the show, and it teaches you composure. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more connected to an audience than I do in Vegas, and what I get from an audience … People tell me they’ve never felt more connected to an entertainer because it’s a reciprocal thing. I’ve learned incredible things in this town, and I have deep love, genuine deep love for this town. I lost my mother; I never thought I would find peace. Of all the places, I would find an element of peace in Las Vegas, in my home, and in my showroom. I have a bar called Gossy Sidebar, and I have an intimate showroom called the Gossy Room. That’s my family’s name. I never thought I’d find as much peace as I did here, in the community here. … When I walk around Las Vegas, people walk up to me and hug me, say, “Thank you for what you’ve done for the town.” And it’s genuine. They mean it. I feel very loved here. I feel very blessed that Vegas even considered taking me under their wing, which they eventually did. Seven-and-a-half years now, three-quarters of a decade. Over three-quarters of a decade, which is quite extraordinary. I’ve had a show in Vegas for seven-and-a-half years. I can’t believe it.
Vegas provides career twists for entertainers. Mike Tyson created a stage show that surprised a lot of people. It sounds like in your case it created a connection to classic entertainers.
Only a fool knows everything. I was very grateful that I was able to be a student in this town, not just a teacher.
I understand you’ve done Vegas-style “One Night Only” shows in England. …
I do those in the smaller venues. In the bigger venues it’s very different. I just play music that I love. I am talking to a couple of different casinos. I haven’t mentioned that officially. But that is official.
In Las Vegas?
Uh-huh. I am definitely talking to another casino.
So you’re not leaving Las Vegas. You’re staying. You’re still going to continue this relationship with the city.
I would love nothing more than to continue, as you say, this relationship with the city, but I do want the show to grow. I have a thing, like tattoos and tuxedoes. I think there’s something very contemporary about glamour. I think there’s something very contemporary about the truth, about an entertainer that does have hits of his own. I do have some hits that I’ve written that my audience knows, and I think the way that I do it works. It’s worked for seven-and-a-half years. I’ve never not put bums on seats for seven-and-a-half years, but what I do want is I want my audience to have a more comfortable, more glamorous and even more connected experience. I’ve continuously pushed the boundaries in my career all my life. I’m still the youngest man in history to headline Wembley Stadium for 70,000 people. I’ve done incredible things. I just played the Kennedy Center. I just played for Joe Biden.
How did you wind up performing at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia?
Yeah, the DNC. They asked me to. I think that, over the years, there’s not really a room that I can’t warm up, you know? I’m extremely honest onstage. Probably the best way to get me to do something onstage is to tell me … tell me not to do something and I probably will. I’ve sung for incredible people and with incredible people my whole life. I want my show to grow, and I guess I’ve just got to have the courage to allow that process to happen, if it’s going to happen. The casino I’m talking to wants the show to grow. Not that the show … I’m extremely proud of it. You can hear how proud I am of it, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want it to grow.
You have to grow as an artist.
I think you know what I mean when I say this: Shows come and go, and some shows go rather quickly, right? You’ve seen it and I’ve seen it in this town. I think some people try to run before they can walk. I think seven-and-a-half years playing the venues I have in Vegas, and with the success, I think I’ve earned the right to want to run here now, if that makes sense. I think I’ve paid my dues. Seven-and-a-half years is a pretty decent … probably one of the longest runs, considering how many shows I do a year. I think I’m respected by people like yourself, and I believe that God rewards the risk taker. The casino I’m talking to right now, I believe, wants the show to grow, like me.
Your last show’s on Oct. 24 and then your birthday is five days later. You and I are the same age (47). It seems like a good time to make a move. Does that make sense? Are you feeling that at all?
Yeah, of course it makes sense. Great observation. Stevie Wonder has a phrase: “Just because a record has a groove doesn’t mean it’s in the groove.” I think that kind of sums up where you and I are. I think what’s brilliant about being a man is when you’ve in a groove and it feels good, and I think that at this point in our life it is what it is. We don’t need to pretend. We don’t need to try and figure it out. We’re men, it’s great to be a man, and I think at this kind of time in our life, what do you have to lose? Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. Say what you want to say, because you’ve earned that right. You can just clock into that beautiful groove and sit back and enjoy the ride, I think. It feels good to be a man. I feel more optimistic about my life now because I’m not as confused. It is what it is.
I really don’t believe in negative energy. There’s nothing compared to the light I have in my body, in my heart. I don’t believe in fear. I just don’t. … Just trust in the light. Surrender to the light. You’re going to be good if you surrender to the light. Always go towards the sun. You know that little flower coming out of the crack of the pavement?
How does this philosophy affect your recording? I think you did some recording this summer at the old A&M Studios and you called it “the record of your life.”
Yeah, it is. The new single comes out Oct. 2 in Europe, and you know, I don’t know how but when I lost my mum I didn’t even know how to approach writing because everything felt so … I’m still very, very deeply grief-stricken about her loss, but somehow I managed to write a love record. This record’s sexy and unashamedly loving. It’s a great record. I play all the instruments on the record so far. I’m probably going to play all the music on the record this time. I wrote, arranged and produced everything on the record. My mom always said, “Don’t let people change your music.” I said, “Alright, I’m going to make this whole record myself. Everything.” And it feels beautiful. I love the record. It’s got a slightly simpler element to it in that’s it’s dynamic. It’s more musically dynamic because I’m creating more space in the music. I’m enjoying the process.