Mr. Nice Guy

Gay musician Tom Goss stays defiant about his squeaky-clean image

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

PINING UPSIDE DOWN BEEFCAKE | Tom Goss just turned 30, and love has softened his musical heart.

TOM GOSS
With Brant Croucher. Opening Bell Coffee, 1409 S. Lamar St. May 12 at 8 p.m. $5.
OpeningBellCoffee.com

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Once upon a time, Tom Goss was a wounded, angry man. He alludes to his parents’ marriage leaving scars when he was younger, and at one point even believed he wouldn’t live to see 30.
But Goss hit that milestone birthday this week, so some things must be going right.

“You know, I kept waiting for my tragic death,” he admits. “When I turned 30 a few days ago, I used it as an excuse to give myself a new perspective on things.”

Goss performs Thursday at Opening Bell in support of Turn it Around, an album that heralds an optimism not heard on his early releases. Now married to his partner of five years, Goss is in love and he wants the world to know.
“I got married to the man I’m madly in love with and I want to convey that in this album,” he says.

Everything about Around is feel-good, maybe overly sentimental, but it does offer a refreshing perspective.  Goss dissolves the idea that uplifting songs equate to Christian music. Instead, he brings a level of cheer without being annoying. And with such a blatant overtone of romance, he resonates with gay listeners who might also want to celebrate their love.

“As an artist, I want my music to connect with everyone,” he says. “I don’t specify ‘he’ or ‘she’ in my lyrics, because I want to focus on everybody. I like the things people share instead of divide. At the same time, I can bring a kind of normalcy to gay relationships.”

He does that to full effect in videos such as “Till the End,” “You Don’t Question Love” and most notably in “Lover,” from his 2009 album Back to Love. Depicting the relationship between two men —  one a soldier hurt in battle, the other waiting at home — the video has gotten heavy rotation on Logo. While portraying gay relationships, Goss also makes political statements … even if he doesn’t mean to.

“I wasn’t trying to shock anybody with the video — I’m not that political,” he says. “I started getting emails and meeting soldiers telling me about their involvement with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the video was a result of that even though the song wasn’t originally written with that in mind.”

Goss says that his evolution as an artist is most apparent with this album. His songwriting is crisper and he felt like he let loose with a strong positive energy all in an effort to make a “really great pop album.” He’s fine without trying to have an edge that music sometimes requires.

“You can go back to first album and hear the hurt, but I don’t feel like I have that anymore,” he says. “As for an edge or dark side, I don’t really have one. I’m supposed to be edgy and all these things but for the most part, I’m nice. I left my anger and violence in my past.”

He laughs at himself for being a “bad artist” because he thinks more about songwriting than branding or marketing, but he also knows his look, sound and tone are bright and what his fans want — something that’s wholesome.

“So much of the world, especially in the gay world, is bitter,” he says. “Although I’m not sure I ever set out to be anything particular, I want to turn people emotionally. I want to show them there is something beyond that bitterness.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens