Tom Goss shows patience with ‘Wait’
New album a slow, steady growth of music
By JOSEPH BROWNELL
A bear is the last thing you might call the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Tom Goss, but his affinity for the gay subculture made viral waves last year when the singer-songwriter released his ode to hairy happiness, “Bears.” The song and its hilarious video opened the door to invitations to play at bear festivals across the world as well as national blog attention for his independent music career.
While touring has kept Goss busy, he somehow managed to record and release another album in the last year and is bringing those tunes to Smith’s Olde Bar on Oct. 23.
We caught up with Goss to talk about the spectrum of genres on his latest record, the Atlanta experience that found its way into the title track, and why he’ll take some ownership of the attention of the world’s bears.
You’re returning to Atlanta in support of your fourth full-length record, “Wait,” a much more plugged-in album than your last one, which you sequestered yourself in Virginia to make. Can you talk a bit about the process of writing and recording the songs?
I needed to make “Lost Songs” and “Underdogs” (the record I disappeared to Virginia to make) to come into my own as an artist and prove to myself I could do all the things I had previously hired folks to do. For “Wait,” I linked back up with Mike Ofca—who produced 2009’s “Back to Love” and 2011’s “Turn it Around”—to get back to producing a bigger sound. There was a much clearer vision on this record than previously. I also had been kicking these songs around with my band for a couple months before we went into the studio. As a result, there is a cohesiveness and maturity to the songs that wasn’t always there previously. In the past, the songs were new, they were just bones, I hired a studio band and they came to life in the studio, they were born in hours, sometimes minutes. That is also an amazing process, but “Wait” was much more organic, a slow and steady growth.
The album’s title track “Wait,” is very rockabilly and you actually give Georgia a shout-out in the song. Where in Georgia did the influence for that line come from?
(Laughs) Atlanta actually! I was having a conversation with a guy who kept dropping John Mayer’s name. The funny thing about the music business is you constantly have folks telling you what to do, telling you what to write about, telling you who to be. I took some of those experiences and pooled them together into “Wait” to poke fun at this constant struggle between art and exposure.
“You and Me” is a very heartfelt ode to the long haul—was the inspiration personal?
I always draw from my personal experience when writing music. Look, a relationship isn’t always easy, everyone knows that. What makes it possible is the idea that you’re not alone in this journey. We think of it as ‘me against the world,’ because there is so much up against you. But when you find someone special, it really becomes ‘us against the world,’ and there is solace, comfort and strength in that.
Since we last spoke, your ode to hairy happiness, “Bears,” went viral and opened up invitations to play across the world. Were you surprised that the video and song struck the chord that it did?
I’m always surprised that anyone responds to what I do (laughs). I’m just trying to write music that speaks to me. I’m trying to be authentic and honest. When other people respond to what I write, I am honored. There are so many artists out there, doing so many amazing things, I’m just happy to be a part of the mix.
Although you’re married, did the video open you up to a bunch of proposals or propositions?
Yeah. It’s silly, but I am laying mostly naked in a kiddy pool so I’ll take some of the ownership for that.
Tom Goss returns to Atlanta on Oct. 23 with a show at Smith’s Olde Bar. (Photo by Tom Goss). (Stevie Nicks photo courtesy Warner Bros./Kristin Burns)