- Wed, 2007-02-21 17:20
Travis McCoyfirst met drummer Matt McGinley back in gym class in 1997. Now, along with Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, and bassist Eric Roberts, they are the Gym Class Heroes – pioneers of live hip hop and genre-busting jams melding rock, rap, hip hop and rnb. They are quite excellent!
On February 12th, Gym Class Heroes released their very dope new single, Cupid's Chokehold featuring Patrick from Fall Out Boy. I Like Music caught up with frontman Travis from as the band finished their UK tour, to talk about originality, Fresh Prince and Amy Winehouse.
“I like music because… it got me out of my shitty town''. Travis, Gym Class Heroes
ILM: Your new single 'Cupid's Chokehold' is out now. The track tells a story of the eternal quest for true love. So, with Valentines Day this month have each of you found true love or are you still on that quest?
Travis: Yeah, it’s a little bit more sorted out than when I first wrote the song.
ILM: Cupid's Chokehold features Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. How did that come about?
Travis: We’ve been friends now for like four years and we’re on the same label as well, so it was just a matter of time before we got together to make music. It came naturally really.
ILM: Who’s on your collaboration wish list?
Travis: Right now I’m really into Amy Winehouse, she’s amazing. I’d like to work with her.
ILM: Your new album, As Cruel as School Children is out now. Which track was the most fun to lay down in the studio?
Travis: Probably Viva La White Girl, just because it was my first time singing through a whole song. And not rapping, y’know? It took a little bit to loosen up and not be so embarrassed and shy. I have this weird thing where I get really timid about singing, but in the shower I’m Darryl Hall, y’know. So I need to get over that.
ILM: You guys are known as true pioneers of live hip-hop, seamlessly melding rap, rock, R&B and bring the fun element back into hip hop. Do you find you start writing a track with a hip hop beat with rap lyrics and then add the rock and rnb flava later, or does it all flow together from the outset?
Travis: We first started off, we didn’t have any direction we were just kids making noise and it was a lot more etched out before. Like, this will be our rock song, and this will be our hip hop song, and this will be our funky song and after a while they started to merge together. And now I don’t even know what we’d call it, it’s just an amalgamation of all of our influences and shit that we listen to. So it flows naturally now.
ILM: What’s your current favourite track to play live?
Travis: Lately there’s a song called Scandalous Scholastics that we’ve just started playing and it’s been a lot of fun. Kids are really receptive to it, they love it and they sing along, which feels good.
ILM: How was your US tour with the All American Rejects? Any funny anecdotes from the tour you can reveal?
Travis: Sure, on the last tour I got really sick and had asthma and I was out of it, so I spent a lot of time on the back of the bus watching Fresh Prince. I realised that we’re kind of alike, and it’s funny because now I’ll just say things without knowing it that were part of Fresh Prince. It’s really strange. I think me and Will Smith were separated at birth.
The Rejects are just great guys and we had a good time and some wild parties. When the movie Borat came out, they rented out a whole movie theatre and got limos and sh1t and took everyone to see it.
ILM: You’re just finished with your headline UK tour. Have you been opening the UK shows with the Queen and I?
Travis: Actually we’ve been starting off with a son called Paper Cut. We save Queen and I for a few songs after that and things kind of erupt after that. It’s like sex, you don’t want to climax too quick, you want to save it for a little bit.
ILM: Last time we spoke Matt told me about how you were out shopping in the mall celebrating finishing your demo and your friend rang to say he’d won the lottery, a million dollars! How’s he doing?
Travis: In the beginning he was a little loose money now he’s really smart. He paid his house off and gave his family a lot of money, but now he’s letting it sit in the bank and gain interest, so he’s being really smart. It’s cool. If anyone deserves to win something like that it’s him. He’s a kind-hearted dude, he works with kids. When he won the lottery he kept going to work, and they were like, ‘what are you doing here?’ and he was like, “It’s my job” He’s got a really big heart.
ILM: You used to get grounded, but that gave you more time to be artistic, resulting I a fine arts and illustration diploma. What’s your advice to young people about making the right choices in life/career etc?
Travis: Early on I realised I definitely wanted to make music for a living. Not doing it was never an option. Whenever I talked to people I’d say, ‘So when Gym Class heroes do this’, rather than ‘if Gym Class heroes do this.’ The most part is just being determined and consistent. A lot of times people get to a certain point in their career and just get lazy. We’ve been on tours since before we got signed. Resting has never been an option. It’s like, what’s the point? I get home for two days and don’t know what to do with myself, because I’m so into touring and that whole mindset it’s not even an option to not do it.
So, stay determined and stay on top of your game. I think there’s always room for growth and learning. You convince yourself first and then convince the world later.
ILM: It must be a double pleasure when your album is released with, not only your music but your artwork too?
Travis: Yeah it is.
ILM: Your not followers and don’t play music that fits in with a particular genre or group or fad. You’re original. That’s important to you right?
Travis: I think origninaly equals longevity, but flash in the pan shit that’s working for the moment, it has a shelf life. Once it’s over with you’d have to switch roles again and catch up. I’d never want to be part of a rat race where I’d be trying to catch up with the times. We’re past that, we do what we do. It’s sad, I’ve had friends in certain bands who could be doing something good and then they pick up on something else working and try that and it can be career suicide.
Don’t draw yourself in to a corner, especially on the underground hip hop scene they build up a glass ceiling over their careers by saying they’re so independent and so underground, but once they can’t break out of it they get bitter, but it’s nobody’s fault but their own. Not just underground hip hop, but in any scene. If you’re stuck into one equation and you put yourself in that situation you’d get pissed that you can’t break out of it. I would never just want to be stuck in a certain category.
ILM: You wooed a girl over Myspace according to your track, New Friend Request. Are you still in touch? Did you meet?
Travis: Yeah, sort of. I’ve noticed a lot of the time people don’t really put their true selves up on MySpace, which makes sense, but they build this façade and it’s really decieving and, I get it, I mean you can take a photo from an angle to make you look sexier, but not only aesthetics, but personality wise, you can put up what you want people to believe you are. And that was the situation I kind of fell for.