Interview by Mike Mason.
Photograpy by Rob Kern.
Gym Class Heroes have the opening slot on the Fueled By Ramen tour that is winding its way across the United States. Combining rap and hip-hop with actual instruments, Gym Class Heroes are a young group that are bridging the gap between hip-hop and rock on their newly released disc, The Papercut Chronicles. From Out Of Nowhere reporter Mike Mason sat down with vocalist Travis and drummer Matt before they took the stage at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio.
FOON: How long have you guys been on tour?
Matt: We’ve toured seriously since this summer
FOON: What’s it like to tour that long?
Travis: Honestly, it’s weird, I’m to the point that when I go home, I’m home for two days and don’t want to be home anymore. The van feels more like home.
FOON: How does it feel to be the opening act on the Fueled By Ramen tour?
Matt: It’s awesome, for the most part I enjoy coming out, warming the kids up and getting the party started. It’s a real challenge; it could either go good or bad.
FOON: You’ve got a new cd out, The Papercut Chronicles, what was it like putting it together?
Travis: I’m happy with it, I love it.
Matt: I actually sat down and listened to it all the way through, it’s cool to put all of yourself into something and then actually get to sit with it and hear it out.
FOON: Is there anything that didn’t make the disc that you would have liked to have more time to put on there?
Matt: There are a couple of songs that didn’t make the record. There’s one song I wrote when I was in Brazil and it came out really quick. It will surface on something I’m sure.
FOON: Any chance of leaking on the Internet?
Matt: These kids are crazy now days, somebody will find it and put it up there for sure if it’s not up there already. (laughs)
FOON: What’s your favorite song off the new cd?
Matt: My favorite song is always the song we just wrote and the last song we wrote before we recorded the album was “Nothing Boy vs. The Echo Factor”.
Travis: Mine too.
Matt: It’s just a really well put together song.
FOON: What’s the least favorite venue you’ve ever played?
Matt: I’ve got one, The Dark Horse Tavern in Atlanta. We played there just to kind of fill shows when we were on tour with theStart and I was filming Travis and he was really wasted and he started pissing in the stairwell and he got kicked out. They were really weird about it.
Travis: I shouldn’t have done it but…
Matt: They were like, “You guys are gonna be banned from Atlanta, you’ll never play here again.” We’re playing Atlanta again in June at a bigger venue.
FOON: What’s the weirdest thing anyone has ever done to get backstage?
Matt: Nobody really fights to backstage to see us; we’re just the opening band (laughs).
Travis: One time I made out with Matt to get backstage to meet these guys but then I realized I was in the band (laughs).
FOON: Was that the last time you drank?
Travis: (laughs) Yeah, that was probably in Atlanta too.
FOON: Your sound is very unique, what lead you to coming up with this?
Travis: It’s really become kind of a cliché answer for me, it was the fact that all of us have different influences, we listen to a lot of the same shit but also we all listen to different stuff. At the end of the day your influences mold who you are as an artist, you draw a little from everything you listen to and to say we’re completely original… Our sound is original but it’s also made up of all our influences.
Matt: I feel like we don’t intentionally go for a sound you hear, its kind of what sounds natural to us.
FOON: Why instruments instead of canned beats? All that hip-hop shit on MTV and no one can even play an instrument…
Travis: Yeah, it’s all very formulaic, you can say that it’s limitless but at the same time you are also limited with technology. Instruments are more exciting for a live show.
Matt: And that’s not to put down producers who do that kind of thing. Because a lot of the stuff I’m influenced by for my drumming comes directly from traditional hip-hop.
FOON: You guys made the Warped Tour this year, is this your first time on the bill?
Matt: We did it last summer but we were definitely bottom of the food chain last summer. We are a little higher on the food chain this year. Last year we did it with the four of us in a minivan with all of our equipment and stretched through Canada, eating out of garbage cans. But now we get food and a bigger stage, it’s awesome.
FOON: What stage will you be on?
Matt: We’re gonna be on the Volcom stage for eighteen dates.
FOON: Anything else in the works?
Matt: We did a video for “Papercuts” that should be done pretty soon. Right now Fuse is airing a commercial for this tour and it has snippets from the video. We’re really exited to get that out for people to consume.
FOON: Do you have one memory that sticks out from all this?
Travis: That’s a tough one, I remember the first time I realized I wanted to write songs and it’s really funny. I was watching a Fruity Pebbles commercial and Barney Rubble started rapping and I figured if he could do it, I could do it too. “My is Barney and I’m here to say, I love Fruity Pebbles in a major way…” He doesn’t even have ears! (laughs)
Matt: Probably the other day when I found out we were on Billboard for something or another. It was a real specific category but just alone, hearing that we got in Billboard was like the most surreal moment I’ve had with Gym Class Heroes and in my life.
FOON: I’ll throw out some stupid questions at you, what was your favorite childhood toy?
Travis: You know those little stupid things you sit on and you spin it?
FOON: Sit and Spin?
Travis: Yeah, I used to sit on that shit until I’d puke, dude. I’d seriously spin myself sick.
Matt: I’d say Popples, those little stuffed animals that you stuff into themselves and they become a ball.
FOON: Favorite band?
Matt: Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not that they are my favorite and I love everything they have done but I really respect their goal. I just read Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography and that like, put a lot of shit in my head. They seem just like a really honest and cool band that has continuously put out good material.
Travis: I’d say Hall and Oates, all time favorite.
FOON: Travis, tell me about all those facial expressions on stage.
Travis: I get asked that a lot, I don’t… it just happens. The only conclusion I can come to is that since I don’t play an instrument and I’m just singing, I have to do something so I play my face. (laughs) I’ve become a really, really good face player.
FOON: What’s it like touring with Fall Out Boy? Pete (Wentz) helped you guys get signed, right?
Travis: It’s awesome. Yeah, Pete was a major part in us being where we are now. I love it, there is nothing like touring with friends. Nothing like touring with people you are comfortable around, people that you love watching.