Interview: Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes
by Tony Pascarella
Published: April 19, 2005
Editor's note: I conducted this interview during sound check at the April 15th Fueled By Ramen & Friends Tour stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The member of The Academy Is quoted remains anonymous because that band and Silverstein were playing poker next to Travis and I during the interview, and I didn't make note of which member it was. Perhaps it's better that way.
Special thanks to Mike Cubillos at Earshot Media, Seth (GCH's tour manager), and Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes for taking some time out of his schedule to do the interview. Credit to Daniella Curry for the Travis McCoy photo.
Tony: First question, I'm sure you've had this numerous times. But what is your name, age, and what do you do in the band?
Travis: My name is Travis. I'm 23 years old, and I am the vocalist.
Tony: How did you guys meet?
Travis: For the most part, we met when we were kids still. We actually got together--my band played a party that Ryan, our bass player and Matt, our drummer--they were in another
band, they were playing; they didn't have a singer or anything, they just played instrumentals. I grabbed the microphone and started rapping, and we got together about a week later and we've been together ever since, pretty much.
Tony: How would you describe your style of music to people who've never heard it before?
Travis: I guess it's definitely rooted in hip-hop.
Unidentified member of The Academy Is: Punk rock...and we mix it with the hip hop.
Travis: No! [laughing] We don't. Not what we do. We kick ass.
Tony: How did you get hooked up with Fueled By Ramen and were there any other labels you were considering?
Travis: For the most part, we were talking to a few labels before we got signed to Fueled By Ramen but--this is really weird how we got signed--this kid Nick, who actually designed our website, he was going to do merch design for us. We sent him a CD to give him a taste of what we do, to give him some inspiration or whatever. He was friends with Pete in Fall Out Boy and he let Pete listen to it, and Pete really liked it. So he played it for everybody at Fueled By Ramen, and he played it for Crush, who's our management and manages Fall Out Boy too, so we were super lucky.
Tony: Obviously you have ties to Fall Out Boy with Pete helping you guys and Pat making the appearance on "Cupid's Chokehold," so what do you think of the success they've been having lately?
Travis: Oh, it's amazing. They deserve all of it, man. These guys are four of the most hardworking guys I know. They definitely deserve all of the success they're getting and it's only the beginning. When the album drops, it'll be even more crazy.
Tony: What has the reaction been so far on the tour for you guys?
Travis: I mean, for the most part, a lot of kids are coming to the shows, they've kind of heard of us. The thing is, we're used to dropped jaws when we first start playing. It's something different, and it always takes a while for kids to get used to something different. I don't take offense to it; it's cool when by the second song when I see them dancing, you know.
Tony: How do you like playing with Fall Out Boy, The Academy Is, Midtown, and now Silverstein?
Travis: It's amazing. The cool thing about this tour is that--with the exception of Silverstein--we just met those guys. It's only been three or four days and we're already in love with them. But for the most part, The Academy, Midtown, Fall Out Boy are like family. It's made the touring way easier. Everyone's looking out for each other, and it's awesome.
Tony: So what's your favorite touring moment?
Travis: Probably would have to be last week when it was Midtown's last day on the tour. We made them do beer bongs during the set and then, for their last song, we went out with flour and antiqued them all, and threw flour all over them. That was hilarious; it's all on tape too. It'll probably pop up on something.
Tony: So what's your favorite song on the CD?
Travis: Probably the last song, "Kid Nothing Vs. The Echo Factor." It's talking about the boring state of hip-hop, and how monotonous it's gotten. It's kind of poking fun at how stupid a lot of the music that's coming out today is.
Tony So what inspired all of the indie references on "Taxi Driver"?
Travis: The song was almost an accident. I wrote the first line, the Death Cab line, and I kind of shoved it aside. I was like, "Aw, that's pretty cool", you know? And we came down to write an album and I was like, "Hmm, maybe I can do something with this." So I called up our drummer, Matt. I was like, "Dude, what do you think about this line?" He was like, "Keep going." I would write a few more lines, and call him back, like, "What do you think, what do you think?" And he was like, "Awesome." For the most part, we get a lot of flak such as "Oh, that song's a gimmick." The thing is, it's not even a song. There's no formula to it, there's no hook. It's more of a thought. That song is really cool because it kind of baits kids in, kids who wouldn't listen to Gym Class Heroes otherwise. It's cool, I'm cool with it.
Tony: The Papercut Chronicles is obviously a deeply personal album. Can you talk a little about the creative process that went into it?
Travis: Basically, the album is basically two years of my life. I would write, throw stuff aside, write, throw stuff aside. When it came down to putting the album together, I just went through all these old notebooks and found stuff. It's definitely a super-personal album. I write weird. Like I said with "Taxi Driver" I wrote a line, shoved it aside. That's how I write most of the songs; I'll write something, add to it, shove it aside, go back to it, add more to it. It's about two years of my life in a nutshell, condensed into about eighteen tracks.
Tony: Can you talk about what you were trying to get across with "Faces In The Hall?"
Travis: There's definitely a lot of narrow-mindedness. That particular story could happen anywhere, and it has happened in a scholastic setting. School is probably the worst place that anybody can face ridicule. If you're different, there's a whole bunch of kids that will pick up on that and beat it into the ground. It's not even necessarily for someone who's homosexual, just somebody who's different, and that's faced that. When I got to write the song, I was like, "Wow." I got the chills. Hopefully, somebody who listens to the song has the same feeling and thinks about it. Even me, as a kid, I was guilty of picking on kids. It just kind of was digging into myself and being at peace with myself. For the most part, it just opens kids' eyes to not be so--I don't know. Even in my situation, when I was bullying kids and stuff, it wasn't because I wanted to, but I thought it was making me cool. There's a lot of kids that are forced into things like that that they don't believe, they're just doing it. The song is basically to hopefully some open kids' eyes.
Tony: What artist, living or dead, would you most like to do a show with?
Travis: Hall & Oates. They're my favorite band in the world.
Tony: What artist or artists would you cite as your influences?
Travis: As far as music writing, we listen to all kinds of stuff. As far as staying afloat and doing what we're doing, we're influenced by the people that we're around all the time. Bands that we tour with, you know? They kind of fuel the fire. As far as writing influences, I don't really know.
Tony: As of now, what is your favorite record of 2005?
Travis: Armor For Sleep. Armor For Sleep, "What To Do When You're Dead" is probably one of my favorite albums right now. It's awesome.
Tony: Obviously in the music industry, there are always problems with albums leaking ahead of time. Does this help or hurt you guys?
Travis: Honestly, it definitely helps. Our album leaked way before it came out. It definitely helped, for the fact that the--the internet has done so much for us. There are instances where it's definitely hurt. There's been underground artists that I've been into, hip-hop artists who have highly-anticipated albums that leak. Then you don't even hear about it. Then it comes out and it's like, 'I've already heard it." That can either make or break an artist.
Tony: Are there any up and coming bands that we need to know about?
Travis: Sure. Panic At The Disco, which is a new band that Pete's working with. They're amazing, it's like a super super dance music. On the Fueled By Ramen sampler, they have a single on there that's amazing.
Tony: What are your plans for the future and where are you guys going to go from here?
Travis: There's nothing but touring going on for us for a while. But as far as the future, I try not to get too ahead of myself. So much has happened in the past year, it doesn't make sense to set huge goals. You never know. As far as the near future, to keep touring, busting our asses, and hopefully spreading the GCH virus across the States, and hopefully, eventually overseas.
Tony: If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
Travis: I would probably be...[funny voice]...butter pecan, because I'm such a nut. [blows raspberry]
Tony: Any last words?
Travis: Go buy our album. I like it. You should.
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