Gym Class Heroes come to save the day

Andrew Gaug

People always speak of the funny feeling they got when they climbed the rope in gym class. For the two founding members of the hip-hop rock group Gym Class Heroes, they had a similar feeling of connection between each other during phys ed, but it was one of similar interests.

“I met (lead singer and rapper) Travis (McCoy) freshman year of high school,” Matt McGinley, drummer of Gym Class Heroes said, “I was one of a couple dudes that listened to alternative music. Then I met Travis and he liked the same type of music, skateboarding and he liked playing drums.”

After frequent talks, McCoy, McGinley and a few other high school friends formed the band and self-recorded four CDs including what would be the album that got them signed, The Papercut Chronicles.

“We didn’t do music with the intention of putting (it) out to FYE. We just did it for me and my friends to have something fresh to listen to.”

After The Papercut Chronicles was released, the song “Taxi Driver,” which name-drops dozens of bands such as label-mate Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, Coheed and Cambria and The Postal Service, caught Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz’s ear. Eventually Wentz and McCoy bonded, which led to the band signing to Wentz’s imprint Decaydance Records and their mother label Fueled By Ramen- a move McGinley was happy to make.

“We thought for sure a label would send us to some bright spot in Los Angeles to re-record (The Papercut Chronicles), but Fueled By Ramen put it out as it was,” he said.

Though The Papercut Chronicles’ morose lyrics about codependency and self-loathing helped gain the band some attention among the indie and punk crowds, their latest album, As Cruel as School Children, got the band national attention with the single “Cupid’s Chokehold.”

Though the song was originally released on Papercut, it remained an oddball between songs about breaking up and popping pills. The remixed version, now added on to the updated School Children album, has received constant airplay on MTV and the radio. But McGinley said it wasn’t ever meant to be released as a single as it rose to popularity while they were still promoting another song, “The Queen and I.”

“Blame it on Milwaukee and Minnesota,” he said. “They started spinning that song a lot after ‘Queen and I’.”

McGinley said he was happy the song got a second chance after not getting promoted during the Papercut era.

“We wanted to re-release it and do a bigger budget video. It’s a really good song. We wrote that song in our friend’s bedroom. We always felt that song never really had a fair chance,” he said.

But as the band gains in popularity and tours more, McGinley said they still keep close to each other.

“Twenty-two and a half hours a day (we’re) roommates. You learn to live on the road just like you learn to live with your roommates.”

Though McGinley said he does butt heads with McCoy, including an incident where they got in a screaming match on a plane, he said the arguments are healthy and help them grow as a band.

While on tour the band has had a chance to live out their dreams.

“It’s been unreal. There’s been certain pinnacle moments – Conan O’Brien was one of them, being interviewed by John Norris at the mtvU Woodies was another.” He said.

“I remember learning to play along with Red Hot Chili Peppers albums. Playing along to (it), pretending I was on ‘Conan O’Brien’ and all of my friends were watching. Then we got on there and it’s like ‘Damn, I finally got to do that.'”

The band currently is finishing writing a song tentatively titled “Shell Shock” for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

“We thought about our predecessors like Vanilla Ice with ‘Turtle Power’,” he said. “We didn’t want to do anything cheesy like that.”

With all the goals McGinley said Gym Class Heroes has achieved, he still is holding out for one more.

“If we ever get to be on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ that’ll be another dream fulfilled.”

Contact assistant ALL editor Andrew Gaug at [email protected].