Monday 3 October 2011

Travie McCoy - your Gym Class Hero[es] . Leeds Cockpit Interview

Gym Class Heroes
It's been a busy week at Est.1987 HQ. Earlier in the week we went down to hang out with electro-rock duo Breathe Carolina (you can read that interview HERE) at Leeds Cockpit. Then, Saturday found us back at The Cockpit chillin' on the tour bus with Travie McCoy. The Gym Class Heroes frontman chatted music, Adam Levine and papercuts...

Hey Travie, how’s the tour going so far? Are you enjoying being back in the UK?
Travie- Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to it for a while. The fact that the weather has been amazing always helps because I don’t think there’s been a time that we have toured over here and it hasn’t been raining and gloomy. I’m really weather sensitive. When it’s raining out, it completely destroys my whole mojo; I’ll sit back here [in the tour bus] and listen to Nina Simone. But I’ve been happy, the weather’s been great. The first show, Birmingham was amazing, last night Keele University was awesome.

Do you find that there’s a difference playing to a UK crowd and US fans?
Travie and guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo on stage at The Cockpit
Of course, of course! I feel like, and no disrespect to the kids in the US, they’re lazy as fuck. Our fans know that we give one hundred and ten percent so we expect one hundred and ten percent back. When we get put on bills with other bands, kids here [in the UK], the minute that first chord is played or the minute you announce their city, go ape shit until the end. We thrive off the energy, so when it’s there it makes the show that much more awesome. Even when it’s not we still give one hundred and ten percent, but after the show it’s like “what the fuck did we do wrong?” It is what it is. You’re not going to have every crowd in the palm of your hand, but out here, let’s just say it’s easier!

What can fans expect from this tour – will you be playing songs from The Papercut Chronicles II?
We’re actually playing shit in chronological order, from the first album on to now. It’s been cool that way because it takes kids on a ride, especially the kids that have been down with us for a long time- it’s memory lane. These kids have grown up with us and we’ve been a band since ’97 and we brought our first record out in 2003, so eight years is a big chunk out of someone’s life if they’ve been riding with us since then. It’s nostalgic, because we start with the first album then go to now and it gives them time to look back on their life: things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with our music but things that our music triggers for them. It does the same thing for us; it’s a cool way to keep things fresh.

Do you usually play a set in chronological order or is this new for the current tour?
We just started doing it. Our record label just had a fifteenth anniversary and we did it for that show and it just felt right. We are going to do it for a little bit longer and see if kids still like it. When the new album comes out there will be a lot more new material so we can play the stuff that kids know.

The new album Papercut Chronicles part II – why have you decided to do the follow up to Papercut Chronicles (2003) now?
Gym Class Heroes
Erm…I don’t know, I really don’t have an answer for that. One day I just hit up Matt, our drummer, and was like “dude, we got to call our next album The Papercut Chronicles II”. It just hit me in such a weird point in all of our lives because a lot of things had changed; a couple of us became fathers, a couple of us had just got married. We were babies when we first started doing this and now we’re grown men. So, I listened to that album for a month straight, picking out nuances here and there that I didn’t even notice when we recorded. I mean we were sixteen when some of the songs were written. So to go back and revisit that and see that there’s an innocence and urgency that the record has, I wanted to take but not recreate, and use as fuel for this new album. But us coming from that naïve, adolescent age to grown men having that same drive and hunger, musically and lyrically the new record is definitely more mature. But it’s in no way trying to recreate that album- it would be a waste of our time and waste of your money for us to make the same album twice. There definitely are some reoccurring themes and a correlation between the two.

So, we’ve heard the single “Stereo Hearts”. How did the collaboration with Adam Levine from Maroon 5 come around? And what was it like working with him?
When we first set off getting signed they asked us if there was any artist you would like to collaborate with, and Adam was top of our list. We were such big Maroon 5 fans at the time and we still are. When we started working on “Stereo Hearts” we were working with Benny Blanco on the song and we were like “Yo Adam would be perfect for this”, and Adam was like “yeah sure”. We found out that Adam was a fan of Gym Class Heroes and we were bugging out like “this is crazy”. It’s always awesome to work with someone who’s a mutual fan- who enjoys your music and you enjoy their music. It just makes the chemistry, and makes everything in the studio that much more genuine. Everything he does is just so effortless in the studio. I was just in awe- I wish I could sing that well!  

You’re a band that incorporates a lot of different musical styles – is this a conscious decision or did it just happen naturally?
It’s definitely not a conscious decision. We listen to so many different types of music and are inspired by so many different types of music, that it creeps in to what we do. It’s just something that we can’t help. But I also think that it’s something that has given us an edge, so to speak. A lot of times bands will say “alright we’re this type of band”. We never said that; we were never scared to let journalists know that we listen to country music or Elvis Costello. We listen to so much that it’s inevitable for our influences to creep in.

Travie McCoy on stage at The Cockpit
What does the future hold for Gym Class Heroes?
The future questions are always tough. I never know. I’m just trying to get through today, honestly. If we can do this up into our fifties and still have people coming out to our shows I’ll be happy. Then after that I’ll retire- make a hundred babies!

What do you guys like doing outside of the band?
I have always been into visual arts and tattooing, spending time with my dog. It’s all stuff I can bring on the road with me. This suitcase is just full of art shit- paint markers and all kind of stuff- photography- I’m super into miniature polaroids at the moment. Its kind of like a hunger that I need to fulfil, whether I’m on the road or not, otherwise I get in trouble! The minute that I get bored it’s over – all the bad things happen. So I try to keep myself occupied.

We ask everyone who we interview if they can recommend some acts we should be checking out…
Lately, I have been really really into Selah Sue. She’s a friend of a friend of mine and he put me onto her and I’m really digging her. I’m really into James Blake’s record and for me a lot of moody music. I’ve gone back and started listening to Portishead again and I guess it’s just a stage I am going through. Music like that, anything that can evoke emotion and make me feel a certain way, I’m totally into. Bands like the Bad Rabbits who are friends of ours who kids are just starting to get into, are also worth checking out.