Gym Class Heroes
Gym Class Heroes.jpg
Background Information
Origin Geneva, New York
Genre Alternative Hip Hop
Rap Rock
Years active 1997-present
Label(s) Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen
Associated Acts Fall Out Boy
Kill The Frontman
Cobra Starship
The Academy Is...
Panic At The Disco
Every Time I Die
Lil Wayne
Four Year Strong
Ra Ra Riot
Travie McCoy
Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo
Eric Roberts
Matt McGinley
Former Members
Ryan Geise
Samm Shuffler
Milo Bonacci
Sie One

Gym Class Heroes is an American alternative hip hop band from Geneva, New York. The group uses live instrumentation, and is noted for displaying hip-hop influences while performing alongside artists who are mainly considered to be rock, pop-punk, and metal bands. They have collaborated with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump on numerous occasions, notably for providing backing vocals on the song "Cupid's Chokehold." Stump also produced the majority of their album The Quilt.

The group formed when Travie McCoy met drummer Matt McGinley in high school and decided to form a band. After the addition of guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and bassist Eric Roberts, the group was signed to Fueled By Ramen and Decaydance Records (Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz's independent record label), on which they released their debut album, The Papercut Chronicles. The group gained a strong fan base while promoting the album, appearing at festivals such as Bamboozle and Warped Tour. In 2006, the group released the gold-selling album As Cruel as School Children. Since that release, the band's single "Cupid's Chokehold" reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Clothes Off!!" peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart. On September 9, 2008, Gym Class Heroes released their third album, The Quilt, which contained numerous collaborations with other artists.

Travie McCoy has recently pursued a solo career, releasing the album Lazarus in June 2010. Lumumba-Kasongo has been working on his side-project Soul, while McGinley now drums in the rock group Kill the Frontman. However, the group plans to release The Papercut Chronicles II in 2011, and is currently in the studio recording demos for the album.

History[edit | edit source]

Formation (1997-2002)[edit | edit source]

MC Travis McCoy and drummer Matt McGinley became friends at their local high school's gym class in ninth grade in Geneva, New York.[1] They officially came together in 1997.[2] The band formed when bassist Ryan Geise and drummer Matt McGinley were performing at a party in an instrumental band with no vocals. McCoy, who was in attendance at the party, took the microphone onstage and started rapping.[3] A week later, the group came together and started making music. The original group began playing college parties and BBQs, birthday parties, clubs, and festivals which eventually led to larger venues throughout the northeast, including four years on Warped Tour (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008). McCoy won MTV's Direct Effect MC Battle and as a prize, appeared in Styles P's video "Daddy Get That Cash".[4] The group released two more CDs from 1999 to 2004: Hed Candy and Greasy Kid Stuff.

The Papercut Chronicles (2003-2005)[edit | edit source]

In 2003 the band recorded the album The Papercut Chronicles while on tour. Before the album was finished, it caught the attention of Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, who signed the group to his label, Decaydance Records.[4] At this time, guitarist Milo Bonacci (who went on to form Ra Ra Riot[5]) parted ways with the band and was replaced with current guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, who was attending Cornell University at the time.[6] On the first day the band began to record with Lumumba-Kasongo, the song "Cupid's Chokehold" was recorded, which would become the album's first single.[6] The group released the four-song Papercut Chronicles EP before finally releasing The Papercut Chronicles in February 2005. After Eric Roberts replaced Ryan Giese on bass, the group toured constantly throughout 2005, appearing at the year's SXSW, Bamboozle, and Warped Tour festivals. Music videos were filmed for the songs "Taxi Driver" and "Papercuts".

As Cruel as School Children (2006-2007)[edit | edit source]

On July 25, 2006, Gym Class Heroes released its second full length album, As Cruel as School Children. The album contained guest appearances by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and William Beckett from The Academy Is.... The album marked a departure in the band's sound, with the band utilizing drum machines and synthesizers as opposed to the band's typical live instrumentation. The band gained popularity when McCoy was featured in the Cobra Starship song Snakes on a Plane (Bring It), which was featured on the soundtrack to the film. During this time, the band released a rerecorded version of the song "Cupid's Chokehold" from The Papercut Chronicles. The song sampled "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] The album was also anchored by the singles "The Queen and I", "New Friend Request", and "Shoot Down the Stars".

The Quilt (2008)[edit | edit source]

After headlining a seven-week U.S. tour called the "Daryl Hall for President Tour '07", the group returned to the studio to record new material. The resulting material became The Quilt, which was released on September 9, 2008. The album featured numerous collaborations with other artists, including Daryl Hall (from Hall & Oates), The-Dream, Estelle, and Busta Rhymes. Guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo said of the album, "I would definitely say that this is the most collaborative album I've played on with the band. I remember the very first day we started jamming out and working on the songs. I thought, Man, I haven't felt like this since I was in high school jamming out in a garage. So it's kind of cool, 'cause it was that same feeling, except we were recording for a major album."[2]

Gym Class Heroes co-headlined the 2008 Warped Tour along with Paramore.[7] While the band was performing onstage at the festival on July 2, 2008, Travis McCoy was arrested after hitting a man on the head with his microphone. The man had been in the crowd at a concert in St. Louis when he shouted racial slurs at McCoy.[8] McCoy asked the man, "What did you just call me?" As security was removing the man from the venue, McCoy brought the man on stage to call him out in front of the crowd. In a statement, McCoy's publicist said that the man hit McCoy's knee, which was in a brace after he had suffered a recent strain.[8]

Current projects (2009-present)[edit | edit source]

Travie McCoy has pursued a solo career. In 2010, he released a hit single "Billionaire" with Bruno Mars, which has been successful since its UK release in early May 2010. He released his first solo album, Lazarus, on June 8, 2010. Lumumba-Kasongo created the side-project Soul in 2008, which he has currently been focusing on during Gym Class Heroes' break. The songs "Live a Little" and "No Place Left to Run" from The Quilt were originally intended to be used strictly for his side project, but McCoy heard the songs and convinced Lumumba-Kasongo to let Gym Class Heroes use the songs.[6] McGinley has been drumming in the rock group Kill the Frontman.[9]

The band plans to release The Papercut Chronicles II in early 2011. McCoy says of the album, "We're about 12 demos deep. All I got to say is it's definitely going back to the essence of Gym Class Heroes, which is four dudes sitting in a room, vibing off each other and making organic, dark metal."[10] McCoy says that while he is currently focused on promoting Lazarus, January and February are set aside for him to rejoin his bandmates in the studio.[11]

Musical style and influences[edit | edit source]

Gym Class Heroes is noted for displaying hip-hop influences while performing alongside artists who are mainly considered to be rock, pop-punk, and metal bands. McCoy says of the band's musical style, "We've been the proverbial sore thumb our entire career. Even before we got signed to Fueled by Ramen, we were playing shows with death metal and hardcore bands and whoever would let us play with them. I wouldn't even consider us a hip-hop band. Musically, it's just all over the place."[2]

The band acknowledges '80s funk-influenced R&B acts such as Prince and Ready for the World as major influences on the band' sound.[12] Each member cites different types of music as influences, with drummer Matt McGinley saying "there aren’t many (types of music) we agree on."[1] McCoy cites 1970s blue-eyed soul group Hall & Oates as his biggest musical influence.[13] Guitarist Disashi Lumumbo-Kasanga is mainly influenced by rock music, citing Jimi Hendrix and Muse as an inspiration for his guitar playing.[1][14] Bassist Eric Roberts incorporates reggae styles into his playing, as well as styles influenced by metal bands such as the Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah.[14] McGinley favors funk and rock stylistics inspired by groups such as Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and 311.[1]

Additionally, the band is noted for not using samples in its music, a practice commonly used in hip-hop. McCoy states that "It’s more fun and organic in the live show. There’s definitely a lot of acts that can pull off a DJ/MC thing but then a lot that can’t. Also I guess it’s all we know."[1] However, As Cruel as School Children does contain samples, with McGinley commenting, "We’ve always been a band and we never did sampling at all before but within the last couple of years we’ve embraced it more. In the songs we did with Patrick Stump we used it."[1]

Band members[edit | edit source]

Current members[edit | edit source]

  • Travie McCoy – lead vocals (1997–present)
  • Disashi Lumumba–Kasongo – lead guitar, backing vocals (2004–present)
  • Eric Roberts – bass, backing vocals (2004–present)
  • Matt McGinley – drums, percussion (1997–present)

Former members[edit | edit source]

  • Milo Bonacci (1997–2004) – guitar, vocals
  • Ryan Geise (1997–2005) – bass
  • Steve Decker (1997–2003) – MPC
  • George Martin (1997–2003) – DJ
  • Jason Amsel (2000–2001) – guitar

Discography[edit | edit source]

Main article:Gym Class Heroes discography

Awards and nominations[edit | edit source]

Year Award Category Result
2007 MTV Video Music Awards Best Group Won
MTV Video Music Awards Best New Artist Won
MTV European Music Awards Ultimate Urban Won

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


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