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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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In Music

The members of Gym Class Heroes re-join forces for the upcoming release "Papercut Chronicles II," out Nov. 15.

In Music

The new album builds on their most popular album, "Papercut Chronicles."

Gym Class Heroes team back up for "Papercut Chronicles II"


Pop rock/hip-hop hybrid group Gym Class Heroes were an unlikely pick as one of the next indie bands to break into pop and alternative radio, but once "Cupid's Chokehold" hit in 2005 and again in 2006 as a re-release, it seemed their passports were stamped for a respectable level of stardom.

Though, seemingly as fast as their success came, they seemed to go in the opposite direction as front man Travis McCoy decided to take time to work on a solo album in 2010, which in turn led the other band members to begin side projects as well. The band repeatedly denied that the group was breaking up, but instead looked at the break as being a great time for each member to be involved in other projects, something all of the members had always been involved in before Gym Class Heroes began to take up all of their time.

Proving the rumor mills wrong, the members of Gym Class Heroes returned to the studio to work on new music as a band, using part of 2010 and much of 2011 to get the process done.

Gym Class Heroes was scheduled to visit Milwaukee Nov. 5 to put on a show at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom before the impending Nov. 15 release of the new album "Papercut Chronicles II," but due to a sickness in the band the show had to be canceled.

Though they couldn't honor their Milwaukee date, as well as others on the tour, guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo loves being back together with his bandmates and can't wait to get the new music into the ears of their fans.

"It's been great. The fans have been waiting for the record for a while actually. We've had to push the release date back a couple of times so by now the fans are ready to hear what we've got."

Lumumba-Kasongo also admits that right now he's just taking everything one day at a time as the release of their new album inches closer so he can focus on their latest tour, a co-headlining gig with The Dirty Heads.

"Really right now we're just making sure that we get the mixes done, making sure that the timeline looks right. Especially now that we've just started this tour, it's just a lot going on for us every single day and so I just try to focus on the day, because if I look too far into the future it starts to become a mess and I get stressed thinking about all the things that we're going to have to do, but as long as I play it day by day it's great, it's really good."

The sound of the record is just as diverse as their previous works, says Disashi, but the new album features a much larger portion of his ability to solo, which is something that he's anxious for people to hear.

"I'm really excited because there are some cool riffs in there, there's a set of guitar solos in there also. I think every song should have at least three guitar solos, but that's me, you know? I'm excited for people to hear what I've got, a little bit more than on previous records."

Being a sequel to their most popular album, Disashi explains how "Papercut Chronicles II" builds on some of the music found on "Papercut Chronicles" and wards off any accusations that "II" could be a recreation of the first.

"I think there's a musical way that it builds on it in terms of riffs that were taken directly from that album and then reintroduced into this album as a new theme. There are also lyrics that (lead singer) Travis (McCoy) has used and kind of given new life to from the other album and put into this album. It's definitely a sequel in that sense, but it's in no way a recreation of that album. I don't think we've ever had a desire to recreate any album. That's just boring. But, we're definitely taking what was there before and using our experiences as men now and as band members to kind of bridge the gap between then and now."

Lumumba-Kasongo is also happy to be back on the road with Gym Class Heroes and is somewhat relieved by the support they've received since coming back together, which is something he knows has proven to be a difficult task for other bands that have taken even a short break.

"It feels great, honestly, getting back," says Lumumba-Kasongo. "The first show we did after the break was in L.A. at Nokia Live and that was a little bit nerve-racking in a way because nowadays it's very rare that a band can step way, even for as short a period as a year, year and a half, come back and still have people there supporting them. So, stepping onto that stage and seeing the kids still anticipating our songs and singing along with us, it was such a reassuring and invigorating feeling."

Hopefully, the hiccup they've had during the tour due to sickness doesn't dampen their future shows or the release of their new music.

Part of Gym Class Heroes' success can be attributed to their long-time label, Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance, and its desire to develop fan base through grass-root efforts instead of throwing money at expensive marketing options.

"I think (that's) one of the biggest parts of it, is that they build bands that way, taking the time to build fans and letting the fans get to know you at a lower level. Then you create fans that want to go back to see you whether or not you're as successful on a larger mainstream level or not, and I think that's what really sets Ramen apart from other labels. And, also, that they're willing to take chances. When we got signed, Gym Class Heroes was not your average band. That had to look and see something special within us. The only way you can really succeed in any art form, and a business, is to be willing to take risks."

Going more into the sound of the band and the process of how each band member's specific influences help to make Gym Class Heroes a melting pot for genres, Lumumba-Kasongo asserts that they are a complete representation of what today's youth keeps on their MP3 players.

"For me personally I love drawing influences from the past. I think the idea is to really push the envelope and make the most of what's going on to be at the forefront of new music. I think that's definitely what happens with our band because our band represents so many different styles of music just organically, just naturally; that's just what we do and I think that represents the generation of kids growing up now. If you look at their iPods it's no longer just a metal band or a hip-hop band, it's all sorts of bands coming together and I think that's beautiful. I like to think that we're part of that."

Keeping their next moves close to his chest, the guitarist wouldn't reveal any information about their next music videos or what they plan to do for all of their singles, but he promises that they won't just cater to the pop side of music.

"We're actually in the process right now of looking at treatments for a few upcoming singles. One, just a kind of Internet-released single, more of an underground single, just to let the fans know that we do have other material on the record besides just pop singles. We have a whole list of singles lined up, so we're basically taking it one step at a time and looking at video ideas for those, making sure we're happy with them, and then moving forward. You will find out all in good time."

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