Tom Goss is back with a new Christmas track! Now, when it comes to Christmas music, I love the old classics like “White Christmas” and “Wonderful Christmastime”. Newer Christmas music can leave me a little cold, as if the artist is trying too hard to create a Christmas classic. So, when I heard that Tom Goss had a new holiday EP coming out, I was nervous. I love Tom’s work, I listen to “Nerdy Bear” all the time; but could Tom create the right mix to make me have all the holiday feels?
I’m happy to say that he did. The sentiment hit just right, capturing the holiday from a queer perspective, while still conjuring the nostalgia of my childhood Christmases.
I caught up with Tom a few weeks ago to chat about the new EP and why he felt the time was right for a Christmas album:
Richard Jones: Tom, first of all, I love the EP. For somebody who says that they don’t like Christmas music, I think you have created a beautiful Christmas album. So I’m curious about how you were convinced to write these songs?
Tom Goss: Hey there and thank you. I have released a handful of Christmas things over the years. I released this one called “Santa I’m Going to Make You Dance”. I think it was 2014. Last year I released “What’s Christmas Without You?” The year before that, 2020, I released “Christmas 2020”. I think when I was earlier in my career, I really was avoiding Christmas because I thought it might be considered lame. But now I can do whatever I want with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, you know, and I think that’s really what I’m embracing as I get older. Now that I’m 41, I think I’m lucky enough to have developed a lot of skills and to have a really amazingly supportive audience and people that really get me and are going to go along on the ride with me. So then it becomes my responsibility to make the rides really fun, you know? I feel like that’s where I am in my career.
The holidays are not easy for me. The idea of the holidays as a gay man from middle America is hard and the ideas of what family is, and what celebration is. There’s quite a gap between how I approach things and how my family approaches things. So for this EP, I was just kind of trying to think, if I was just making up what I wanted my Christmas to be, what kind of like crazy fun, debauchery, queerness, fabulousness, would be? Well, it would be this!
RJ: You have talked before about feeling censored because of how you look at life, what do you feel has changed for you?
TG: Well, it’s such an interesting question, right? My first record came out in 2006. Putting things into context, I was 25, an openly gay songwriter in America, and to exist inside the music business meant a kind of balance. The idea of being an openly queer artist in the industry didn’t really exist. And in order to do that and in order to exist as a gay man in a heteronormative, even a machismo ‘bro’ culture meant I had to almost assimilate with that. I’ve always been particularly good at that because I’ve always been a really strong athlete. I went to college on a wrestling scholarship, and I’ve always been really comfortable in those spaces. The idea then of being really vibrantly queer couldn’t easily exist for me and that’s down to my upbringing; especially in terms of my music. So, I’ve always been writing about my husband because I’m not capable of being in the closet.
I’m also from Middle America. I’ve grown up with conservative ideology and conservative familial ideology, which always in a lot of ways made sense to me and still makes sense to me. So, I’ve always been this person in the middle trying to have conversations rather than “this is who I am accept it or leave it” kind of thing. That’s not really my vibe. I think the truth of the matter is 2016 happened and the entire country, and in many ways the world, suddenly finds itself being polarized, and people like me who are in the middle are trying to have conversations, feeling I could only speak for myself but also feeling discarded by one side and misunderstood by the other. And my personal “beam” which I’m balancing on continues to get narrower and narrower and I think there’s a real wisdom in stopping and saying “you know what, this isn’t working in terms of what is good for my own self love and my own self-acceptance and my own mental health”. And with that, realizing that what would be really fun for me in this moment. And there’s plenty of stuff on this record that will offend people, including The Last Supper cover which is the gayest thing you’ll ever see. And I’m OK with that, you know? I think for me, its always been about being afraid of offending people and not being as direct with my words as I could be and the EP is a complete answer to the new freedom I have now.
RJ: Let’s talk about some of the people you have worked with on the album, Big Daddy Karsten and Benjamin Koll stand out of course as we have written about them many times, how did you end up working with the two of them on this specific album.
TG: Well, again, like it’s me looking at other people and saying wow, I love how authentic they are and unapologetic they are and uncaring about if they’re offending anybody. I mean, like Benjamin Koll’s just like the most joyful, exuberant person. I have one of these digital frames, it loops photos around and there’s a scene in it where he is on his knees playing his Guitar and on a cloud floating through space lights and it is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen but it is also the most joyous thing and it makes me smile so much. The fact that there is a person in the world that would have thought that and then executed that makes me really happy to exist in this world. He just has so much joy in his life. When I started this EP there was nobody that I wanted on this record more than Benjamin. I was just like, Oh my God, I gotta do this EP. I’ve got to write a song that me and Benjamin can do. And so I woke up that morning and I wrote a song that I thought Benjamin would jump on.
With Big Daddy Karsten, it’s a similar perspective. For me, they’re a little bit the opposite ends of the coin. He’s very aggressively in your face, you know, and he’s going to say things that most people aren’t going to say and he’s going to do it as in your face as possible. Also, he’s just a big guy, and I love what he’s doing. With Benjamin we have chatted and talked, with Big Daddy Karsten, I’ve mostly lurked, I’ve mostly just been a Twitter lurker with him! (laughs) I love what this guy is doing, but he makes me a little afraid, right!? So, I start to think ” oh no I hope he’s nice to me”, you know what I mean? I don’t think anybody could ever enter into an interaction with Benjamin without thinking he’s going to be nice, with Karston, I had this feeling of “I hope he thinks that I’m cool enough to talk to”. I’m like every other person, worried about if I’m cool enough to exist in the world, especially in the music industry. So when I reached out to him, I was like, “hey, I’ve got this song” and I had written “Put That Ass in Christmas” and I had rapped the entire song on a demo version where there’s two completely different versions where I’m the rapper on it, which is hilarious. So I sent it to him because I really wanted the people that are listening to it to really understand what it could be instead of just sending them a chorus and like fill in the verse here, you know? I started dm’ing him and he was really cool. We were just chatting. I was like, hey, I got this thing. I think he’d be perfect on it. And he was like, yeah, man, I dig it, but I’m going to have to write my own verse. I was like, yeah, I expected that.
RJ: What do think the queer community will think of this album?
TG: I want something that’s for us. And by us, I mean whoever connects with it, right. That’s the thing. We’re not all the same person. We’re all different people. We all have different wishes and desires and joys and fears and I can only speak for myself, but I think this is the Christmas that I want. You know, if you look at a song like “Santa Sleigh” with Roxy, I want people going around with confidence and body positivity and their queerness on their sleeve if that’s what they want. With “Put That Ass in Christmas”, I want people fucking partying and I want people, you know, twerking. And I want people just like embracing their joy.
And the same with “Sassy Santa”, like with everything on this record I wanted to make people smile. And if it doesn’t make somebody smile and if somebody doesn’t like it or is offended by it or thinks it’s lame, then OK, you know, it’s not for you. You should go listen to Mariah Carey’s” All I Want for Christmas Is You” and that’s also fine, that totally works. But this is for somebody who in a way wants to reject the common idea about what we are told Christmas is going to be and wants to put a queer spin on it and a body positive spin on it and wants to fucking shake their ass and wants to make out with their friends and wants to just like go down the grocery store aisle fucking sleighing while they’re buying Christmas gifts. That’s what this is for.
RJ: So Tom, as to the last song on the EP, “Ho Ho Homo”, which I love…. I feel like you tapped into all of the traditional melancholy that you can find in the classics like “White Christmas”, and for me this is what makes this comparable to the great old-fashioned classics but also, I’m curious how you got there with that.
TG: I appreciate that. Thank you very, very much. I feel like so there was one Christmas song that I forgot to mention and that was 2017 I released song called “Gay Christmas” and that was a year post the election of Trump and I had gone an entire year without really talking to my family, and it was horrible, it was heartbreaking, and it wasn’t my choice, right? And so I wrote this song, “Gay Christmas”, which only offended people in my family even more, which means they’re still not talking to me in some ways, which has been heartbreaking to me. I think if you were looking at my discography, “Ho Ho Homo” is the sequel to that song written with a little more joy in the position where I am in and like the chorus is just ho ho ho ho homo over and over again.
The truth of the matter is for a huge portion of people, being queer means there’s going to be a depth of sadness in your life because there is going to be people in your life that you love and that you want in your life that aren’t going to embrace the love that you share, and that also comes at us from just a societal perspective. We are inundated with Hallmark movies that are white heterosexual couples. So, you’re talking about hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of the same movie and everybody talking about what this Christmas movie is. So, what I am doing with “Ho Ho Homo” is creating my Hallmark movie, but gay.
I really love the second verse which is, Stockings hanging all about/ Strewn around while making out, right? So, this is Christmas, the stockings are there, but we’re on the floor fucking, right? Fire and brimstone kind of sin. I want that more than anything. Like we are saying, I know you don’t approve: Family, society, everybody. I know you do not approve of my perfect Hallmark holiday movie, but I want that more than anything.
And I think that like for me, Deroche is my best friend, I made so much music with her and I love her on this track and my favorite part of this track is the very, very end. When she is just like ad-libbing, she’s in church and she’s just going off on these runs and all she is saying is homo, and I think it epitomizes this record for me. That is the heart of the record, Deroche going off and with every ounce of being in her heart just like embracing the fact that I am fucking queer, and I am putting my heart into Christmas in the way that I want to.
RJ: Tom will we see any videos of any of the songs?
TG: Yes, I spent yesterday shooting a video for “Sassy Santa” and I have to do a couple pickups in the next day or two, so that’ll be coming out with Benjamin. We’re going to do some really fun Tik Tok stuff for “Put That Ass in Christmas”. I have some great ideas for the for the other ones but, I don’t know if it’s gonna happen just yet.
RJ: Do you plan any more Christmas songs or holiday songs in the future?
TG: I don’t have any plans, but I’m certain there will be some. I mean, it’s like this entire EP was me sitting on a plane at six in the morning heading home from tour and I just had the idea and I wrote the EP in five days because, holy shit, this has to exist in the world. And I didn’t have time, I had to do it right now. So yeah, I mean. I’m sure I will, just keep a look out!
Check out Tom’s new EP everywhere and download it now!