Are you related to Bros? Help Matt and Luke Goss trace their Cork roots

The Goss brothers are heading to the Marquee. Mike McGrath-Bryan chats with Matt Goss about their reunion and how he is seeking help tracing his Cork roots
Are you related to Bros? Help Matt and Luke Goss trace their Cork roots
Matt and Luke Goss, of Bros, who play Live at the Marquee.

THE bubblegum pop of the 1980s is a real cultural curio at times. Scratch the surface of even the most studious sub-genre nerd of a certain age, and you’ll find some semblance of pleasure, guilty or not, derived either from pop ingenue, or a certain warmth to its ubiquity.

Combine this with the current mood of nostalgia in the mainstream, an escapist reversion to a time that may (or may not) have been simpler, fuelled by band reunions, remakes and retro-gaming among other clock-winding exercises, and you have a phenomenon that somehow endures, and sometimes even evolves.

Re-enter the Goss brothers, the nucleus of chart-topping boyband sensations Bros. While not exactly forgotten, it’d certainly been a while since the height of their fame, and a potential reunion may not have been an obvious candidate for a blockbuster in any medium.

A bit mad, then, that the duo’s reunion shows in 2017, at the 02 in London, sold out in seven seconds, a record for venues under the LiveNation banner.

Answering the phone at his office in Nevada, where he manages his Las Vegas residency, Matt Goss takes time from a busy schedule to recount the effort that went into the shows, not only in rehearsals and preparation, but in bringing the duo together, and finding common ground after a long time away.

“We had some issues from our own careers that came up, when it came to meeting in the middle, so it was a moment of two worlds colliding, and we had to make sure to get over the initial impact. We had a lot of unresolved issues. But we have a lot of creative freedom, which is the main difference now, where we’re just enjoying ourselves now, and really enjoying rehearsals.

“I think people thought that we could just go in there and do it, but it took some time to learn each other’s creative language again, but we found our way. Those two nights were two of the greatest nights of my life.”

The reunion was chronicled in ‘Bros: After the Screaming Stops’, a feature-length documentary titled from a line of questioning the pair received from Terry Wogan in a BBC television interview many moons ago.

Imagery aside, the documentary focused on the outfit’s pop excesses and the spectacle of their stadium-bothering heyday, in light of the then-impending comeback. As it would transpire, being tailed by camera crew and boom mics was an added demand on the pair’s time and patience.

“Yeah, me and Luke are notoriously private people, so to actually have cameras in our face for months on end was terrifying. For both of us. We like our private lives. So the thought of it was quite nerve-wracking, but after a while, you just end up accepting that there’s a camera over there, there’s sound over there with a microphone, and you’re also personally mic’d. But we were adamant that we would not make a promo piece, ‘look how wonderful our life is’, and we wanted to make sure that it was the truth. The media industry is not all roses. It’s tumultuous, and part of that journey is questioning why you want to be in that industry.”

While the film did well at festivals and screenings, it was a BBC Four screening before Christmas last year that sealed the film’s fate as a cult classic, with the earnest nature of current-day interviews with the Goss brothers providing Twitter with ample post-fodder.

Matt Goss and Luke Goss attend a press conference as Bros announces a Reunion. Picture: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Matt Goss and Luke Goss attend a press conference as Bros announces a Reunion. Picture: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Quotes and excerpts from the film became part of the site’s vernacular in the days and weeks that followed, and overall, the ‘memeable’ nature of the documentary drove accessibility, acclaim and repeat showings.

While obviously glad of the attention, Matt readily admits to being a little bit miffed at some of the amusement surrounding it.

“I was on the plane from London back to the United States last night, and that movie is on every aeroplane in the air at present. So even now, you’re watching three or four people around you watch a movie about your life. It’s still growing now, it’s just been released in America.

“I loved all the memes, but there’s also context that’s missing at either side of those lines. I’m glad that they’re in there, because that’s what helped drive the film, but there’s far more to my life, and my brother’s life than that. Our lives have been truly sensational, you wouldn’t believe what my brother and I have been through, it’s quite extraordinary. One thing I did get from the film was how nice it would be to get a deeper dive. You would not believe what we’ve seen.”

After that initial hit, the pair made the decision to continue as a going concern, with arena shows in the UK following the London dates. Keeping the momentum going, and the ship afloat, has been a team effort, as the pair balance the return of Bros with their lives in the music and movie businesses, as well as their own satisfaction.

“Firstly, it’s down to (your comfort and enjoyment), and secondly, it’s getting back into it. Like, I’ve been waiting to sit down and talk about coming to Ireland, you’re the second person I’ve talked to about it. We’ve had to wait for promoters and managers and scheduling, and that’s one part of the industry that hasn’t changed from back in the day. We’ve just to give it the best show we can. Promoters and managers (can line these gigs up), but we have to have a bedrock desire to get out and do this, and we do.”

That balance is all-important, of course: it’s important to the pair to point out that since Bros’ dissolution in 1992, the Goss brothers have made their respective marks on movies and music. Luke has gone on to star in action films, the likes of Blade II, Hellboy II and Tekken, and last year make his directorial debut. Meanwhile, Matt went on to collaborate with the likes of Terence Trent d’Arby and Paul Oakenfold, resuming his solo career in 2009, with his residency and a new album via Decca. Matt talks about how their endeavours outside of the reunion inform their experience within it. 

“I’m about to celebrate my ten-year anniversary as a headliner here. We’ve sold hundreds of thousands of tickets. So, I did 170 shows last year. I never really get off-stage, I haven’t been off-stage in a really long time. It’s another band, other songs, but luckily my brother’s in it, so it’s a place I’m very familiar with. ‘Cause for me, with my brother’s acting, it’s two very different skillsets. It’s difficult, in that with my band here, I’m the boss, but here, I’m more conscious of my brother’s feelings. I want to make sure that he’s happy, because a happy band is a successful band.”

All of this has led down the road to the pair’s return to Ireland, including a date at the Marquee on Wednesday, June 26. And while there’s enthusiasm and impatience on the brothers’ part to get to Cork, and connect with some of the group’s legion of Irish fans, for Matt, the journey down Monahan Road to the big tent will have more than a little bit of personal significance. 

“I’ve been told my whole life that my grandfather’s mum and dad were born in Cork, so I’m asking for peoples’ help to try and trace my roots, see where they were born. It’s more than a gig for me. The Irish have a way of making you feel at home. I’ve always felt so welcome in Ireland. I’m looking forward to that warmth, I mean it.

“To have a couple of pints, and see all the green... in my mind, I need it, I can’t wait. I want to extend the trip a few days past the gig, so I can take it all in. That Irish energy, and it’s a rock and roll show, we’ll really have a good time. Come and see what we do, it’s really special.”

Bros play Live at the Marquee on June 26. For more information and tickets, check ticketmaster.ie, as well as the ticket desk in Merchant’s Quay, and Philip’s Bookshop in Mallow.

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