Fitness Gurus 

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Gym Class Heroes build a sizable collection of apples.
Courtesy photo.
Gym Class Heroes
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White Rabbit
2410 N. St. Mary’s
Some bands form in garages. Others, like Hanson or the Partridge Family, are the product of genetics. There are also those that are born out of reality shows.

And then there are the bands that take shape while, um, getting in shape in gym class. Gym Class Heroes are one of these. Well, probably the only one.

Although their punk-rap has put a choke hold on America’s youth — thanks, in part, to their left-field hit single, um, “Cupid’s Chokehold” (okay, that’s enough of the puns) — let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the latest incarnation of garage rock will not be usurped by gym-class rock. If that happened, somebody might actually cover “(Let’s Get) Physical,” which, as a sure sign of an imminent apocalypse, wouldn’t be a good thing. At all.

Matt McGinley, the Heroes’ drummer and a founding member (along with front man Travis McCoy), is hanging out on the set of The Tonight Show when he does his best to explain with some degree of brevity how the band came to be. The band is taping a performance that afternoon, which will be broadcast that night, and, despite how surreal that might sound to most folks, McGinley shrugs it off as routine before continuing with the Gym Class Heroes’ origin story.

In his freshman year of high school, McGinley played in a band, oddly one without a lead singer, and his gym-class pal McCoy played drums in another band. A punk band, in fact. “One weekend during the first week of school, both of our bands played a friend’s party,” he says. “We were just running through our songs” — covers and instrumentals, he notes — “and, since we didn’t really have a singer, Travis jumped onstage and started rapping over us. We were like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ And that’s pretty much how it happened.”

If you interview enough bands, you gradually realize how many formed — or at least how many members joined — due to happenstance. Gym Class Heroes are no different. They just, you know, happened. Kind of like their name. “It was a term we always used for the dudes who went all out in gym class and, like, ended up going to lunch or global studies all sweaty and smelling like body odor,” McGinley says. When it came time to play their first show, “It just stuck.”

Consequently, the Heroes are forever doomed to be badgered by journalists about things like high school and gym class, maybe sports, and, of course, heroes — though McGinley insists he’s never watched Heroes, so note to self: Don’t ask him what he thinks Linderman is up to.

Nevertheless, even when he’s not answering questions about things like high school, he finds himself confronted with it every day. “We ate lunch in the cafeteria at NBC today and I totally felt like high school all over again,” he laughs. “I got there really late and all of my friends and band mates were already seated at a table and there was no room left — so I got stuck sitting by myself. Totally reminded me of school. Not that I was a big enough dork to sit by myself.”

Of course not.

But the truth is, McGinley and the rest of the Gym Class Heroes probably won’t have trouble finding tables people want them to sit at for the near (and probably distant) future. After signing with DecayDance Records, the label run by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz (and also including Panic! At the Disco), they have landed opening slots in tours with major players such as FOB and Gwen Stefani. They’re headlining their own tours, too; this spring, it’s the “Daryl Hall for President ’07 Tour.” Gym Class Heroes, if they aren’t already the next big thing, are about to become just that.

Wait a minute. Back up.

The Daryl Hall for President ’07 Tour? Why Hall and not Oates? “Travis came up with that,” McGinley says. “He’s basically just a big Daryl Hall fan.”

Seriously, that’s the explanation.

“There’s definitely a lot of elements of humor in what we do,” McGinley says, laughing.

Back on track: the Gym Class Heroes are about to, you know, blow up. Their single “Cupid’s Chokehold,” an addictive tale of high-school love with a chorus lifted from Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America,” certainly had a part in that, but it doesn’t hurt being anointed by Fall Out Boy. And not just Wentz, but also singer Patrick Stump, who co-produced their latest album, As Cruel as School Children.

“Pete and Fall Out Boy have just been like older brothers to us, especially in terms of going out on tour,” McGinley explains. “They taught how to tour and treat our fans and do what we do full time.

“I remember being on tour with them a couple of years ago and watching their rise to the top and it’s great because now we’re doing a lot of the same stuff,” he continues. “We’re sort of following the blueprint they used. I think it was important to us to watch someone go through that.”

Well, if the gym class hero was the guy who went all-out in gym class and, by extension, the Gym Class Heroes are that guy multiplied by a rock quotient of X and their gym is, like, the world, they’ve got their work cut out for them. Let’s hope they’re ready to get sweaty and reek a bit before they’re through. l

More by Cole Haddon



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