Travie McCoy Talks "Lazarus," Gym Class Heroes, Tour, and More
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 11:31:07
Travie McCoy made the perfect pop album with Lazarus.
His solo debut blends sunny, upbeat melodies and cinematic lyrics for a sonic trip that needs to be taken over and over again. "Dr. Feel Good" vibrates with an unforgettable hook from Cee Lo Green and Travie's unmistakable, impenetrable flow, meanwhile "Superbad" floats from Limp Bizkit axeman Wes Borland's guitar playing into another stadium-style refrain. Each and every song paints a new picture, and the record comes together like a photo album of all these different experiences and feelings, all the while remaining catchier than anything else out there…Of course, ya'll know Travie's ultra fly collaboration with Bruno Mars "Billionaire" too…
Travie McCoy sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Lazarus, his current tour, favorite cartoons, and the next offering from Gym Class Heroes.
Watch it and read it below!
Did you have one overarching vision for Lazarus?
Definitely! In the beginning, as the story goes, a lot of the songs that I was writing were pretty dark. I was coming out of a highly publicized breakup and all that, and I was in a pretty dark place. I tend to be pretty honest in my songwriting. At the same time, I didn't want to dwell on that. There was this weird inner turmoil like, "Should I put this song out? Is it too revealing? Am I too vulnerable?" I had to basically trash a bunch of songs. In doing that, it was super therapeutic. It wiped the slate clean. Then, writing songs like "We'll Be Alright," "Billionaire," and "Superbad," I thought, "This is definitely the direction I want to go." It felt right. There was no self-loathing. It was just fun. I have my friends to thank for dragging me out of the pain cave, slapping me, throwing me in the cold shower by saying, "This is not the Travis we like hanging around with!" I was like, "I don't like hanging around with this dude either." Henceforth, what we have now as far as the album Lazarus. Once I found the lane I wanted to stay in, I definitely made it a point to make a feel-good summertime record that you could also listen to in the fall and winter [Laughs].
Was "We'll Be Alright" particularly special for you? It shows another side of your voice.
Definitely! On this record in particular, I think I've gotten a lot more comfortable with my singing voice over the years. I was a huge Supergrass fan growing up. That song was one of my favorites. This is me paying homage to a great band in a way, and also thanking my friends for standing by my side through the rough patches. It's hard to listen to that song and not want to jump up and down or at least try to dance. It's always fun to play the fly on the wall when that song comes on and watch people's reactions.
What film would Lazarus be the perfect soundtrack for?
If Lazarus had to be the soundtrack to a movie, it'd probably be somewhere between The Goonies and Coming To America somehow [Laughs]. I had to think about that one!
How has the Lazarus live experience evolved?
There's a lot more energy. It's grown into a full band now. With the whole band, there's just that much more energy and we all feed off each other. It's a great vibe. That resonated out into the crowd and they push the energy back. It's an awesome exchange of energy. I'm really psyched about the lineup. Not only is this my first headlining tour as a solo artist, but I get to help debut Pete Wentz's new project The Black Cards as well as band I've been trying to take out on tour forever, Bad Rabbits from Boston, who are absolutely amazing. They've got this live dance new jack swing thing going on. Then we've got an up-and-coming MC named Donnis who there's a buzz about. There's also another MC named XV I'm excited about. There's something for everybody.
What are some of your favorite cartoons?
I'm a huge Boondocks fan. I can't get enough of Boondocks. I just bought the complete Danger Mouse collection because I was a huge Danger Mouse fan when I was a kid. I had no idea that they had British accents until now. I was like, "They really spoke with British accents? When I was a kid, I just thought they were speaking some weird cartoon language?" [Laughs] It's cool! I'm definitely into Transformers Animated (Animated TV Series), G.I. Joe (Animated TV Series), He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Animated TV Series), and The Smurfs (Animated TV Series). From time to time , I catch some of those old cartoons on television and I think, "Wow, this animation is so shitty!" [Laughs] The colors are all drab, and there are glitches, but they didn't have all of this crazy technology. Everything was hand-drawn so you've got to give them credit, especially with Transformers and all of the action and craziness that went on.
Where is Gym Class going next?
We're actually going backwards but in the best way possible. The new record is actually called The Papercut Chronicles II. It's obviously in reference to our first record. It's exciting to revisit what I feel made people drawn to Gym Class Heroes in the beginning. The thought was, "What is this weird live band with this guy rapping? Then he's trying to sing and tell these crazy stories." In doing that, with us calling the album The Papercut Chronicles, I wanted to keep a continuity between the two albums. There are references to some of the characters that were in The Papercut Chronicles and some of the stories. There are some songs where I pick up where other songs left off. Even melodically and musically, there are little hints of the last record on a lot of these songs. If anything, I think it's going to make people go back and revisit the first record and "A" and "B" the two records. Our first record is going to make a lot more sense to people with this. You have your entire life to write your first record and, if you're lucky enough to get signed and have all this backing, you get deadlines, and you have to crank records out. Being in a situation, having a head start, us taking this direction and revisiting The Papercut Chronicles, the entire time I've been out promoting and pushing Lazarus, I've been working on this album as well. It was so fun to go back and listen to those records on the first album because I wrote a lot of those songs when I was 17- or 18-years-old. It's crazy how some of those topics still ring true today so many years later. It's been so much fun revisiting that stuff and seeing how it pertains to this record. People are going to be surprised and enjoy it. It definitely has a darker undertone than The Quilt had, but there are some more upbeat songs on there as well.
Do you dig Lazarus?