- Sat, 2003-07-05 09:09
Former pop idol and Bros front man Matt Goss is returning to the music scene after a period of self-reflection, introspection and evolution took him out of the limelight for the better part of six years. After selling 16 million records in the span of a decade (Bros' debut album, Push sold 300,000 copies within its first week of release in the UK alone), Matt retreated from the stage and recording studio, only making rare exceptions for the occasional benefit concert and soundtrack contribution. He kept himself quietly involved in the industry by penning songs for various other artists, but Matt was unable to resist the pull of music.
His brand new album, Face the Wind is a celebration of his return to the music scene, a tribute to his fans and an introduction to a new incarnation of the former global pop sensation. The 12-track new album is a contemporary blend of club hits, mid-tempos, and monumental ballads.
As one half of the pop group Bros., Matt has enjoyed more than a decade of international success, headlining some of the world's largest stadiums including Tokyo's Buddha Khan and London's Wembley Stadium through three world tours. In the age of Celebrity Big Brother et al, Matt Goss admits he never compromised by cashing in on a Greatest Hits record, a reunion tour, or television opportunities, opting to start the next chapter with an undeniable album.
I Like Music caught up with Matt before he embarked on his first ever solo UK tour. And found him to be a lovely guy who appreciates everything that comes his way, and is passionate about writing and performing music.
''I like music because...it's one of the few things left on this planet that you don't have to pay for. You can listen to your neighbours radio for free.'' Matt Goss
ILM: So how has 2003 been for you so far?
Matt: I'm having a really good time! People have been quite amazing. I didn't quite know what to expect coming back and it's been extraordinary. It's the first time I'm having a good time not just with what's going on now, but remembering, and people coming up and telling me stories, so many people have had a story.
(ILM: Indeed - our editor remembers queuing for lunch at school during Brosette mania to hear recollections of Luke throwing his drum stick to the crowd at the recent Bros gig and two girls who'd proudly returned from their American holiday with a photo of themselves with the Goss Bros at the airport. Nice touch - every bottle-top-laced Brosette in my school were hugely jealous).
Matt: It's nice to be in that group with big bands throughout history that have been part of people's past and part of them growing up, like Wham, Duran Duran, Bros, Spandau; there's only a few bands that do that and quite honestly it's amazing to be in that lump. I was a big fan of Wham and I also liked the Specials. I've always thought George Michael was fantastic.
ILM: You've said you'd love to duet with George Michael (that'd be fab) is there anyone else on your wish list?
Matt: Stevie Wonder. Now that would be amazing!
ILM: Your debut solo single Watch Me Fall is about facing the worst and the person who's always there to catch you - can you give us your own personal description of it and the track's whole vibe?
Matt: It's not really about just falling, it's about the thought of not wanting to feel anything, and thinking 'I don't want to give up, but I don't want to face anything, and curl up.' It's about being able to just take a breather I guess. And know that there's someone or something to be there for you. Whether it be the love of your life, whether it be music, whether it be your faith, whatever. But I do realise you can't really have a career unless you have a life and I think it's important to have other things going on in your life.
ILM: And can you tell me a bit about your debut album, Face The Wind? And which track did you have the most fun making?
Matt: The most amazing song to record was Face The Wind, the one with the LA Philharmonic orchestra. Just to have those people come in, and have 35 violins in front of you and 40 people creating something that you've written, it was quite amazing. There wasn't a dry eye in the room and after the song they all stood up and gave me a standing ovation, which was awesome.
ILM: You've said the songs are almost like a personal diary of what's been going on… do you find the process of writing songs cathartic? And which songs were the most therapeutic?
Matt: Fever, I wrote in New York with a friend of mine, who wrote Smooth for Santana - we wrote Fever together and it came from deep within. Again it's quite a dark lyric, 'as I lie awake I sleep inside'. It's really about how intense a man feels when his heart's breaking. I think men hurt more than women, wheras women seem to be able to, once they've made a decision, carry on and move on. But men kind of suffer. It's probably a misconception about men. So Fever was a good song to write.
On an upside, I wrote a song called St James Park in the last four or five days, and now we're using that song to close the whole show with, because it's so good and upbeat, and about me being in St James Park and taking my girl there and feeling like I'm home again. It's such a good song, and one called I'm Coming With You, which I wrote recently and that's about basically saying to a girl, 'If you leave I'm coming with ya,'. There's some intense songs, and there's one about my sister Carolyn, and I did it on a TV show the other day and it put a lump in my throat because I've not sung it for people, so to feel the song come alive and see the audience react to it… everyone was all teary eyed, it's quite emotional.
But it's a complex record, there's stuff about my sister, then there's stuff about having a booze up in New York, St James Park, Take Me Home was written in New York when I really missed London and just wanted to come home - so it's like a diary really this record.
It's melodic too, but I think the lads will relate more to this as well. I've got a lot more to say than I've ever had.
ILM: Do you feel much more in control of your music and your destiny in general these days?
Matt: Yeah. There's no pressure for me now. Someone said to me the other day, 'Do you care about your chart position?' and I said I didn't and he said, 'Come on you must do…' So on telly I told him I'd tell him if I did and that Bros used to sell 600,000 records per single, and now they're selling anywhere from 2-30,000 records for a number one, so it doesn't interest me. What interests me is becoming so successful live, that I can come and play to my fans whenever I want. I don't have to worry about the corporate bullshit that goes into making records. I don't think they have a clue what they want to do. They're signing artists who don't have anything to say. People of my age (34) and below still want to hear words that come from the heart, and not words that have been written by a team in another country for the band. There's no passion. So for me, playing Wembley Stadium to 70,000 people takes off all the pressure for me, because I just want to start again and build my fanbase and show people why I could play those kinds of venues in the first place.
The fans that know me don't want me to get stuck in the past and do Bros reunions. But I've been hundreds of thousands of pounds to do those kinds of venues, and every year since I went away we've been asked to do a Bros reunion. But they know now because they asked me to play my own stuff and I said, yep that sounds about right. Neil Fox and people like that have helped me come back.
Someone said to me the other day and said when he heard my voice it was like hearing an old friend, and that's one of the nicest thing anyone's said.
ILM: You're starting your UK tour on Friday - what can people expect from the Matt Goss live experience?
Matt: It's just going to be come and have a good laugh. Live, there's eight people on stage, rockin'. Come and have a few drinks, sing you hearts out. I'm going to sing a couple of old ones. So it's going to be a good night out.
ILM: Is there a special place you find you write your best songs in?
Matt: You tend to write lyrics and in planes, when you've got nothing else to do but sit in your seat and shut up. Sometimes when you're somewhere that's very beautiful, like I went to a place recently called Digs Fur, which is in California on Native American Indian holy ground and it was just a stunningly beautiful place. I was watching whales migrate and sea lions give birth to their pups, it was quite an experience, so that helps the creative juices. And also in your hotel room when you're alone. It's usually quite late. I write my best songs at 2am if I can't sleep. I mean, why waste good agony? J
ILM: You've lived in the UK, in Milan, New York, LA, - describe your absolute favourite place on earth?
Matt: I think London is one of them, it's good to see my beautiful home town and Digs Fur, it's glorious.
ILM: And how is life in the Hollywood Hills with Daisy and your dogs?
Matt: It's wonderful. It allows you to enjoy your career. Every man and every woman needs a good parachute, and I think knowing that everything's secure means you will jump out of the plane, if the plane is your career or hard work, you don't mind doing it. I don't mind the climb at all, and sometime in life everybody needs to free fall. And that's what a good home, a good life and a good woman does to you, it allows you to freefall through the hard work. It lets you know that a problem shared is a problem halved.
ILM: Is it a relief not to have naked girls breaking into your house these days?
Matt: I wouldn't say a relief, because those times were such crazy, fun times, but there is something nice to be said that Brosettes still love me, and I see them at hotels with their kids, and the other day it was brilliant because two 16 year old girls came up to me and said, 'when can be buy your record?' and that was really nice and gave me goosebumps, it's a good thing because they weren't around the first time round and really like the new stuff.
ILM: You've experienced the highs and lows of fame I guess, what advice do you have for young singers starting out on the road to fame?
Matt: Stick with it, don't let the hard times get you down, no matter what anyone says, if you believe in something and know you're good, cream will rise to the top, and you will prevail. Talent always prevails. At some time it will break, so don't be desperate and chase after it like a fiend. Just be confident and constant.
ILM: What's the most bizarre moment you've experienced?
Matt: Probably the time someone grabbed my leg from underneath my bed, that was quite freaky. I was about to go to sleep and they grabbed my ankles. All sorts, I've had fans jump out of the dumb waiter on the 14th floor in Tokyo, and found a girl in my shower. Although not the worst dilemma to have. I've been given entrails as a gift from a Turkey, lots of things.
ILM: Can you describe the highlight of your life so far and highlight of your musical life?
Matt: The highlight of my musical career has to be Wembley Stadium, to get to that venue! The one before that was playing Wembley Arena for two weeks solid, and I thought that was pretty mad, but when we sold out Wembley Stadium and played to 70,000 people, that was probably one of the best days of my life.
Also in Australia there was a time when we were the first band since Elvis to have a number one single and a number two single at the same time, so we knocked ourselves off the top spot. So that was pretty incredible.
And highlights of my life are ongoing really. Life is quite simply the most glorious gift anyone can be given. No matter how down you're feeling, the only thing you really need is the next breath you take, there's nothing else. Whether you're going through the hardest time, or have had your heart broken, the only thing you cannot do without is that deep breath in, it's more than food, money, love, so I thank God for every one I take.ILM: What is in your CD player right now? And which bands are rocking your world right now?
Matt: India Arie, Stevie Wonder, The Police, and James Taylor.