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  • Interview: Gym Class Heroes

    Mon, 16 Jun 2008 06:54:32

    Interview: Gym Class Heroes - Take a closer look

    Gym Class Heroes Photos

    • Gym Class Heroes - INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 04:  Singer Travie McCoy of the Gym Class Heroes arrives at Rolling Stone's Bacardi Bash: 150 Years of Rocking The Party at The Crane Bay on February 4, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Gym Class Heroes - INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 02:  Singer Neon Hitch attends Vh1 Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam with Gym Class Heroes, B.o.B. and All-American Rejects held at Indiana State Fairgrounds, Pepsi Coliseum on February 2, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
    • Gym Class Heroes - INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, Eric Roberts, Matt McGinley and Travie McCoy of the Gym Class Heroes and singer Neon Hitch (C) attend Vh1 Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam with Gym Class Heroes, B.o.B. and All-American Rejects held at Indiana State Fairgrounds, Pepsi Coliseum on February 2, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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    Anything goes for Gym Class Heroes, but that's the way they like it. The band's crafted a catchy, bouncy and groove-drenched sound that's equally dance floor- and Warped Tour-ready. In order to follow-up 2006's gold-selling As Cruel As School Children, Gym Class Heroes took a step back and hunkered down to write some of their most natural, fun and sexy dance rock-hip hop hybrid tracks, yet. These songs will make up the band's 2008 offering The Quilt, due out later this year. After some intense creative sessions with everyone from Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates to Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, drummer Matt McGinley's taking time to prepare for this summer's Warped Tour. Driving down the highway, McGinley discussed all things Gym Class with ARTISTdirect. He also managed not to get in any accidents, while offering an in-depth preview of The Quilt and Warped Tour. Now that's multi-tasking!

    What direction do you feel like Gym Class Heroes is heading on The Quilt?

    I feel like the new stuff is a bit of a throwback for us, in terms of the production style. We went back to our roots with how we did it. We tracked most of the record, about seven songs, live. We were all recording together in the same room on those songs. Whereas the last record, we recorded it all in different studios. In terms of the instrumentation, it was much more natural. The last album was fairly processed, and it was pretty heavy on programming. This new album has a lot of real and natural sounds. That's why I say we're returning to our roots, in a sense. It's definitely really diverse. The record is all over the place. We've got songs that are extremely rock and roll-influenced, and we have songs that are extremely hip hop-influenced. That's why we decided to call the album The Quilt, because it feels like a musical patchwork of different influences and songs. When people hear it, it will tie in even more.

    You guys have always had a warm and inviting sound, so the image of "The Quilt" fits well.

    Yeah, totally! We just got the rough draft of the artwork back from the artist. It's so sick. To me, when I looked at it, I felt like it was a great visual representation of what we were trying to accomplish sonically with the album. I'm really excited for people to not only hear the record, but to also have the whole package in front of them. This record is definitely my favorite Gym Class record that we've worked on. I don't always say that. I truly feel special about this record. It's a bummer that it's not coming out for so long, because I'm so excited for people to hear it. I feel like I did when we did our first record in high school. I was just thrilled for people to hear it, and I feel like a kid again, because I get that same feeling with this record. I'm not only so proud of it, but it's also such a new direction for us. Not only that, I don't think we're just doing something new. It's basically taking everything that we've loved about our style of music and exaggerating it musically, lyrically and conceptually. I feel like everything is of very high quality for this album.

    Was there anything in particular that sparked that growth and progression?

    I'm sure there is. A lot of it involves just growing as people and as music fans. We're constantly hearing new influences everywhere. I say "new influences," but a lot of the stuff that influenced the record was music from the '60s and '70s, for me personally. There are a few tracks on the album that have a Beach Boys vibe to them. When we were in the studio, I was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin too, and I was trying to channel the strength and the sonic force that John Bonham had on so many of those songs. I was trying to take an influence like that and apply it to Gym Class Heroes. There were a lot of interesting influences that came in on this record. I think with every record, people will be shocked to hear what we were listening to at the time. This record is no different in that respect.

    That's why we decided to call the album The Quilt, because it feels like a musical patchwork of different influences and songs

    There's a versatility to having both rock songs and funky, hip hop songs. Bands in the '70s often could juggle both. These days, that's not as prevalent.

    Totally, we love all of that stuff. Take a guy like Phil Collins, for instance. He's known as a pop-rock artist, but some of his music is so amazingly funky. I think people forget that you can actually do a certain style of music, but flavor it with all of your influences. You don't have to be a one-trick pony and stick to one thing in particular. I think that's the beauty of Gym Class Heroes. We've always been able to incorporate all of the influences that we have as fans of music and composers of music.

    The live instrumentation separates Gym Class as a hip hop act. You have that '70s feeling, because of the organic instruments. In a sense, the music does channel that classic sound to a degree.

    I mean that's awesome that you can take that away from it. With this album, we did try to strip it down a little bit more, in terms of the programming. We tried to really take our time getting good, classic sounds from the instruments. That was the cool thing about working with Patrick Stump again on this record. In the early stages of this album manifesting itself, I remember talking with Patrick, and he really wanted to focus on getting back to the foundations of Gym Class Heroes. He really helped us get classic, natural sounds for the record. All we had to do was give killer performances, and the sounds would speak for themselves. It was really to our advantage to take our time with this, and spend time getting good, quality sounds.

    Does he make any big vocal cameos?

    There's nothing like he did on the last record. He's not at the forefront of any hooks or anything like that. However, you can definitely hear the Patrick Stump-flair on a couple songs. If you pay attention, you can hear him in some harmonies and whatnot. Aside from that, he's just a great writer and arranger of music. So it was really cool to work with him on this album. It wasn't like he just came in and handed us some songs. It was more like he helped us take the parts we had and arranged them. He really worked with us in helping us write the best possible songs that we could.

    As rumored, did you end up collaborating with Lil Wayne and Ne-Yo too?

    The Lil Wayne thing, we weren't going to do. That was just a rumor, because we did the remix of "Viva La White Girl" with him. We're going to leave it at that. With Ne-Yo, we would've loved to have gotten him on the record, but shit just doesn't work out sometimes the way you want it to. Hopefully in the future we can do something with Ne-Yo. He's an incredibly talented dude. We got to perform with him at the [MTV] Video Music Awards. He performed "Clothes Off" with us. Between him and Patrick Stump singing the hook, it was the best I've ever heard "Clothes Off" sound. It's cool to be a part of a band like Gym Class Heroes where you can make different stuff like that pop off. It's bringing together different worlds. It's not done in a cliché, novelty way. The way we do it is very musical and natural when we bring worlds together. For instance, on this album, we did a song with Daryl Hall from Hall and Oates. I think a lot of people would be pretty surprised to see something like that, but it definitely popped off in a really great way, and we can't wait for people to hear it.

    Back in the '70s it wasn't out of the ordinary to see Hendrix and Zeppelin play with James Brown. These days everything is so segregated by genre. You guys hearken back to that synergy with an "everyone's welcome" vibe.

    With the tours that we do, we make the packages tours that we would want to see. We make shows that we would want to go to. Last year, we did our first headlining tour, and we had a reggae-punk band RX Bandits, a straight hip hop act K-OS and then P.O.S. Regardless of musical genre, all the bands on the bill are always dope. It's quality music, regardless of whether it's based in rock or hip hop. We always try to mix it up with our tours.

    Are you looking forward to Warped Tour?

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