GYM CLASS HEROES
After a much-needed break, a hip-hop heavyweight rocks with a hot sequel
Gym Class Heroes fans who feared your favorite hip-hop group was gone forever during the long wait for a new album since 2008’s The Quilt: Co-founder and drummer Matt McGinley feels your pain. “I know the passion I feel for other bands that I get ridiculously excited about when they put out new albums,” says McGinley, enjoying a rare day off the road at his New Jersey home. “I know how it is when a band says they’re going to take a break, and you wonder if that means they’re breaking up. I’m a big fan of the Killers, and I don’t even know if they’re a band anymore. Are they?” (They are.)
McGinley says Gym Class Heroes never stopped being a band, despite the breakup rumors that preceded their fifth and latest album, The Papercut Chronicles II. The members simply needed to get a few things out of their systems—in McGinley’s case, his desire to complete his college education. “I’d be writing an essay on the tour bus or finishing a quiz in a hotel room in Germany,” he says. “We all put everything else on hold when we formed the band, and that’s what we wanted to do. But we knew if we didn’t go back and do these things we’d always regret it.”
The new effort’s title harkens back to 2005’s The Papercut Chronicles, which first earned them a major-label record deal. “When we started out we were like schoolchildren with a brand-new big-budget record,” McGinley says. “We were green and naïve and didn’t spend a lot of time on pre-production, but we made a good record.” Endless touring, appearances at major festivals and recording dates with Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes and others followed.
While recording the new album with longtime producer Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, the group melded their refreshed enthusiasm with the hard-earned instincts of veterans. Chronicles II has already spun out a Top 5 pop single, the Adam Levine-assisted “Stereo Hearts.” “With professional musicians, especially in new bands, there are a lot of people pulling the strings,” McGinley says. “We never fell into a trap, and that has been a blessing for us. When bands say they’ve matured it sounds like a cliché, but it’s a lot more abstract than that. For us, we’re still making music that is accessible and fun to listen to but has a lot more depth than our previous efforts.”