On the Spot: Tom Goss

August 29, 2013

“Bears” (that’s Goss, above center) puts D.C. bears in their natural habitats: at barbecues, on Slip ’N Slides and at Town Danceboutique.

D.C. musician Tom Goss was in seminary, studying to become a priest. Then, he discovered bears. The human kind. The burly kind. The gay, male kind. Goss’ EP “Bears” (his seventh disc), released in July, features an ode to the hunky species. The video for the title track went viral, with more than 225,000 views on YouTube so far. Goss performs Saturday at the free closing street party for the NAGAAA Softball World Series; he’ll also play Sept. 28 at The Dunes.

You were headed for the priesthood, but you became a musician.
I was doing both music and going through seminary at the same time. I’ve been writing songs since I picked up a guitar. When I left for seminary, there was nothing [besides music] that I was more passionate about. All I wanted to do was make a record.

What’s the song’s message?
I’m married to a bear. And I really wanted to represent the bear community as a whole instead of a subset of the [gay] community. I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people who say, “I was just so happy to see something more than a muscle bear in the video.” I think it meant a lot to people [who] still didn’t quite fit the mold.

What do you think about the video’s success?
All I try to do is create good and positive art, and I don’t necessarily know how people are going to respond to that. I’m really happy that people are responding to it.

What was the songwriting process like?
The chorus — “Bears, I don’t discriminate / I’ll take a cub, a chub to circumnavigate / Steal my heart and let it percolate, all night, all right” — was the first thing to get written. And I knew I wanted the song to be big and meaty, so I used the E chord, which I think is the meatiest chord of them all.

What can people expect from your live performances?
I think of myself as a storyteller just as much as I am a songwriter and performer. People can expect to be moved into a lot of different emotions and hopefully laugh a lot too. I like to have a good time.

Renaissance Washington, D.C., Downtown Hotel courtyard, 999 Ninth St. NW; Sat., 6 p.m., free; dcseries2013.com. (Chinatown)
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Kristen Page-Kirby | August 29, 2013