The Gym Class Heroes are sharper than ever. After spending nearly the past two years pursuing other musical side projects, the hip-hop rock quartet returns in full force with their forthcoming album “The Papercut Chronicles II” and they couldn’t be any more excited.
In fact, during a recent stop at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as part of their current co-headlining trek with reggae rock band The Dirty Heads, Gym Class Heroes performed one of their new songs “Martyrial Girl$” live for the first time in-front of the sold-out crowd.
“We just decided to go into it and it was awesome,” guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo recalls. “It felt great. It feels really, really good. It’s re-energizing to have new material to play because I love making music. But ya gotta play new stuff or else it gets kinda dry.”
Although the four-piece have previously kept a tight lid on the details surrounding their fifth studio effort “The Papercut Chronicles II,” which is slated to drop November 15th, the band recently gave heads a taste of what to expect by streaming a few of the records online.
Front man Travie McCoy demonstrates his sharp delivery and immaculate wordplay about retaining originality in a shallow scene on the captivating rock banger “Martyrial Girl$,” slows down his flow throughout “Life Goes On” featuring Danish pop singer Oh Land to reflect on past experiences.
McCoy cleverly uses his boombox as a metaphor of affection on the mainstream smash “Stereo Hearts” featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5. Thus far, the video for “Stereo Hearts” has already garnered over 28 million hits on YouTube alone. In addition to Levine, there will be guests spots from dance-pop starlet Neon Hitch and singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder.
“The Papercut Chronicles II” will be just as diverse in both sound and subject matter. “There are definitely radio singles, but then there’s also material that cuts a little deeper, so we want kids to glimpse into that,” Lumumba-Kasongo explains. “It’s a really diverse, honest album. There is no one song on there that sums up the rest of the album.”
Conceptually, “The Papercut Chronicles II” is a continuation from its predecessor -- the band’s sophomore set “The Papercut Chronicles,” which was released in 2005. Aside from similar cover art, Gym Class Heroes re-visit the simpler days when they were relative unknowns full of innocence and naivety.
A lot has changed in our lives as individuals, so I think that this album bridges the gap.
“Musically, there are definitely themes we borrowed from the original and re-invented in the second one. In that sense it is a sequel, but it’s definitely not the same album,” Lumumba-Kasongo states. “Don’t go into this album expecting to hear the ‘Chronicles’ original because it’s not. A lot has changed in our lives as individuals, so I think that this album bridges the gap.”
Perhaps the most glaring change is their maturity, both as individuals and a band. The four went from being upstate kids talking about music in their high school gymnasiums to becoming responsible adults in their late 20’s signed to Pete Wentz’s powerhouse label Decaydance Records.
Also the New York-bred collective is constantly evolving and, while the industry has been quick to manufacture bands after the latest trends, Gym Class Heroes possess a resonance that can’t be duplicated. Sure, rap rock has been around ever since Run-D.M.C. collaborated with Aerosmith for a remake of the group’s hit “Walk This Way” back in 1986 and yeah, that single helped spawn the rap-metal outbreak of the late 90’s with Limp Bizkit leading the charge.
But the truth is Gym Class Heroes are a different breed. Their hybrid might be based in hip-hop, but it also contains pop-rock melodicism that has crossover appeal. Plus, they aren’t afraid to experiment with other genres like dance or reggae. Additionally, unlike almost every other rap rock front man that has ever picked up the mic, Travie McCoy is a certified MC who lyrically decapitated his opposition on MTV’s Direct Effect Rap Battle at the Jersey Shore in 2002.
That sort of blend makes them unique and difficult to copycat. “It’s very tough to piggyback off of something that’s always changing. I think that’s the biggest thing because the concept of a rap rock band has been around for a while. Our band is definitely rooted in hip-hop, but I think we have so many influences,” Lumumba-Kasongo explains.
“For instance, I love classic rock. [Bassist] Eric [Roberts] loves metal. I mean, all of us have really diverse musical tastes, but those tastes are always growing and changing, so that makes it very difficult for someone who is trying to duplicate our sound to do that because there is nothing set in stone for them to duplicate.”
With a mature outlook and an ever-evolving style, Gym Class Heroes are the sharpest they’ve ever been.
- Travie McCoy – Vocalist
- Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo – Guitarist
- Eric Roberts - Bassist
- Matt McGinley – Drummer
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