School of rock

Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis McCoy says he graduated from the School of Rock, and judging by his performance at the Welcome Back Concert on the night of Friday Oct. 5, he must have been valedictorian.

“Who here is experiencing their first Gym Class Heroes show?” McCoy asked the screaming crowd of three thousand students.
For those who have never seen the band live before, along with those who have, McCoy and the rest of his bandmates made sure to leave a lasting impression, providing what could be considered a “hands on” experience that does not happen at an everyday concert.

“This next song isn’t going to start until I see at least 7 people making out,” McCoy told the eager crowd.

These kinds of demands might not necessarily occur if the band was playing at a larger venue. McCoy says the intimacy of performing at colleges plays a big part in what people will see during the show.

“You don’t have to bite your tongue as much,” said McCoy in an interview backstage. “If I see a group of fourteen-year-old girls in the crowd, I’m not going to go out of my way to be overly vulgar. When you see kids in the crowd, you have to calm down a little, but here it’s a lot more free.”

“I feel like with the college crowd, they tend to get it a little bit more,” added drummer Matt McGinley. “Colleges just have more fun with it.”

It would be hard to not have fun at a Gym Class Heroes show. Even for those who are unfamiliar with the band’s music, hearing it live for the first time proves to be an even better experience than hearing the music from the album. The warm feeling emitted by the band seemed to be almost contagious; nobody seemed like they were having a bad time.

The show opened with “New Friend Request,” a song off the band’s latest album, Cruel as School Children, followed by various songs from the band’s previous album, The Papercut Chronicles.

McCoy defined “papercut” as being one of the smallest things that hurts so bad, a metaphor about painful past relationships. Small anecdotes like these are one way that the band provided interaction with the crowd. At one point, McCoy elaborated about his foot fetish, stating that he is turned off by girls who do not take care of their feet. (He later went on to describe the best ways for someone to take care of their feet.)

The band also played many songs from Cruel as School Children, including “The Queen and I,” “Shoot Down the Stars,” “Cupid’s Chokehold” and “Scandalous Scholastics,” a song about an affair between a teacher and her student.

McCoy says that the lyrics for their songs come from everyday experiences that everybody could relate to. “But I don’t know, have you ever slept with a teacher?” he joked.

The audience was even treated to cover songs that were almost better than the originals, including a remix of the Plain White T’s song “Hey There Delilah” and the Arctic Monkey’s song “Leave Before the Lights Come On,” the latter which is a favorite of the band’s to perform.

Although Gym Class Heroes are somewhat new to the music scene, the band’s performances can easily top those by bands who have been around for decades. The secret behind this: McCoy and company can find nothing in their lives to complain about.

“We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of genuine people,” McCoy said. “I don’t have anything to complain about. I wake up at noon, do some meet and greets, play a show, work an hour and a half a day, and that’s a wrap. I have nothing to complain about. If anybody does complain, tell them to come and talk to me. They need to rearrange their life. When you get paid to do something you love, it’s good.”

While many bands are even hesitant to shake a fan’s hand, McCoy bravely glided through the enormous crowd as the band closed the show with their current single, “Clothes Off!,” a song that features the frontman of their upcoming tourmates, Fall Out Boy.
What else does the future hold for Gym Class Heroes?

“As for a new album, we’re constantly writing and recording on the road,” McCoy said. “Past that, we just take it day by day.”