Whoever said you shouldn’t meet your heroes was not a Brosette on a date with Matt and Luke Goss, once the dreamiest twins in pop, now enjoying a career renaissance thanks to the documentary of the year.
That film, After The Screaming Stops, has won them a whole new fan base but some of us – ahem – bought their debut album in 1988 and have been waiting for this moment ever since.
When I say a date, I mean a conference room at their PR headquarters, but let’s not nitpick. I am in a room with Bros! Admittedly, not both at the same time – they are doing separate interviews because they have busy schedules and absolutely not because they hate each other – but no matter. If my teenage self could see me now, talking to Matt Goss about Brexit.
They are here because BBC Four, home of highbrow arts, has invited them to curate a night of programming. A Night In With Bros will feature live music and conversation, and clips from some of the TV shows they loved as kids.
“A kind of intimate, chill evening,” says Luke, the drummer and the soulful one. The vibe, explains Matt, the singer and showman, is: “Get a bottle of wine and hang out with us. Let’s get to know each other better.”
Who could refuse? There will be a chat show section, hosted by Matt, with guests including Frank Bruno and Mo Farah.
“I can tell you I was having lunch two days ago and one of my heroes, Michael Parkinson, was sitting on the next table. I said what I was doing and he wrote me a beautiful letter before he left. The first line was: ‘Welcome to the club.’”
And there will be a repeat showing of After The Screaming Stops, which recorded the brothers’ fractious relationship as they prepared for a 2017 comeback gig. It mixed emotional honesty with moments of comedy gold in what critics called a cross between The Office and Spinal Tap. Matt’s pronouncements on everything from conkers to crystals to Stevie Wonder went viral, and what becomes plain from spending time in his company is that he is one of life’s deep thinkers.
Take his belief in British exceptionalism, which he explains by highlighting the difference between his home country and America, where he is now a successful singer in Las Vegas: “The thing about Britain is that a building gives you a sense of mortality. Because you know when you’re looking at Big Ben, there’s an absolute knowledge that it’s looking at you and saying: you’re just a moment in time. No pun intended. But it really is. Where I buy my hats is older than America.”
He adores London. “I love going to Jermyn Street. I like to go to St James and I do, on a regular basis, feed the birds and squirrels.” He went to the pub inside the Tower of London the other day because he is friends with a Beefeater.
The conkers thing (he appeared to be under the impression that the playground game has been banned in England) was a joke, he explains, although he does think Britain is too politically correct these days. Most of the things that sounded unintentionally funny in the film were absolutely intentionally funny.
“One-third of my Vegas show is laughter. It’s banter. People said: ‘I don’t know if he was meant to be funny or not.’ But do I then say, no, I was trying to be funny? Because that’s really not becoming of somebody who makes people laugh.”
There was a time when people laughed at Bros, not with them. In the 80s, after bursting onto the scene with When Will I Be Famous?, they inspired a level of hysteria close to Beatlemania. They played Wembley Stadium. They played table tennis with Keith Richards. But they had an acrimonious split with bassist and third-wheel Craig Logan, burned out after a couple of years and famously ended up broke. And there was so much mockery that they upped sticks and exiled themselves to America – separately – to start again.
Luke remembers one particular night, when Bros appeared at the Berkeley Ball. “It was an upper-crust event at the Savoy. I thought, oh, this will be nice, they’ve been raised well. And it was the only time I had things thrown at me. They were all laughing at us. That was one of the catalysts where I realised I needed to leave the country.”
He went to Hollywood as an unknown and is now an actor, writer, producer and director with 60 films under his belt.
His favourite thing to do is camping in the Joshua Tree National Park, miles from anyone. He meditates daily, which accounts for his air of calm. He is delighted by the reaction to the film, which has changed the public’s perception. “I never knew if there was a magic pill that would fix it, but it fixed it for us,” he says, with palpable relief.
The twins are now 50. Luke has been married to singer Shirley Lewis since 1994, but Matt is single and looking for a wife. There are two main criteria: “Warm heart, dirty mind.” He is trying not to take the #MeToo movement personally, and laments that “men and women have become terrified of each other”.
“I like being Matt Goss,” he says, “I like being a man. I say it’s good to be a man and in regards to the #MeToo movement, my mother taught me to be a gentleman. I don’t need anything to remind me to be a gentleman.”
The word that best describes them is “heartfelt”. Luke articulates what it is like to be a twin. “Sometimes, it’s lovely. But when you’re a kid you’re referred to as ‘they’, ‘they’, ‘they’. Even if what you’re doing is extremely different – I might have won a medal, Matt might have done this – they’d go, ‘Oh, you guys…’
“I remember once I’d had my first number one movie and that comment showed up. And I was like, he wasn’t even on set! It’s silly now, I can laugh about it. But as a boy, you want your mum to be proud of you. It’s a very simple desire but it’s a common condition for twins.”
Luke says his relationship with Matt is much better since they aired their feelings in the documentary, about the buried grief of their sister’s and mother’s deaths, and about Luke feeling overshadowed by his brother. “The movie was strangely and unexpectedly bridge-building and somewhat therapy for us,” he says, although they “weren’t anywhere near as estranged or fractured as people thought” anyway.
However, Matt says, before the film, they hadn’t sat down for dinner together for 20 years, and things aren’t too much better now. “We don’t spend more time together, no. Luke stayed at my house during rehearsals [for recent shows], which was lovely. We had a massive couple of rows in the rehearsals – and then he had to come back to my house, which was a beautiful consequence.”
He is “done apologising”. He can’t help being Matt Goss, talented frontman. “I’d like anyone to try and sing a Bros song. They’re very difficult songs to sing in that key. So the continuous need to feel like you have to make sure everything’s OK is physically exhausting and I’m over it. I’m going to do what I do or, frankly, he can do it.”
He wants to spend more time with his brother but has accepted that they are very different people, although he is just as spiritual as Luke. “I don’t have to say ‘namaste’ to be in a place of peace. I’m in God’s house right now. And the way I speak to God is conversational.” Which is something I can imagine.
Work starts on a new Bros album in a few months’ time, but first Luke is shooting a film in Florida, and Matt is working on an Upstairs, Downstairs musical, for which he would like a royal premiere “because it’s a very regal property”.
I find myself asking Matt if he has an opinion on Brexit, and he’s very glad I asked because, yes, he does. “Every piece of business that I’ve ever done in regards to a contract has needed an amendment. One of the biggest contracts I was ever involved with, we actually did five amendments.
Britain is a massive contributor to the economy of Europe so therefore I would say to Brussels, let’s make some amendments to make it a bit more fair. As soon as there’s categorically a ‘no’ then you find yourself in a place of gridlock.” And the Matt Goss coda: “I mean, at some point, you can only look at a cube and say, well, it’s still a cube.”
He deadpans: “I’m probably going to run for prime minister when I’m 60.”
Before they leave, they mention plans to record the new album in a studio abroad – Jamaica, maybe – like bands did in the old days. Friends can go and visit them, soak up the vibes. It’s not quite a direct invitation. But I’ve got my suitcase packed.
A Night In With Bros is on BBC Four on Friday 19 July, 10pm