Look out radio — here comes Gym Class Heroes.
With “Stereo Hearts,” a collaboration with Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine and the first single from “The Papercut Chronicles II,” the hip-hop/rock troupe has a Top 5 hit on the Hot 100 — only the second in its career, following 2006’s Supertramp-sampling “Cupid’s Chokehold.” But drummer Matt McGinley is confident that there’s more where that came from this time.
“I feel like we have a really strong handful of singles that have yet to be released, and that’s a position we’ve never really found ourselves in before,” McGinley, who co-founded the group with frontman Travis McCoy in 1997, tells Billboard.com. “When we have had radio success in the past, it tends to be a fluke. Maybe [‘Stereo Hearts’] is a fluke as well, but with this album I feel like we’re in a really good position and have a solid batch of songs that we feel have that same potential. As long as the fans are into the album as a whole, that’s what’s most important to us.”
Gym Class Heroes’ followers are certainly intrigued by the idea of “The Papercut Chronicles II” — which comes out on Nov. 15 with production by Benny Blanco and Kid Cudi collaborator Emile — being a sequel to 2005’s “The Papercut Chronicles,” the group’s national debut. McGinley says McCoy suggested the idea while the band was touring in Canada, “and I was like, ‘Whoa! That’s incredible!’ and we just started brainstorming different ideas of themes that we could bring back and sort of expand on.”
Nevertheless, he adds, “We’re not necessarily trying to rehash the first album. We’re just trying to expand on a lot of ideas and themes that we started with it.
“To me, ‘The Papercut Chronicles’ is a lot darker, musically. It just has this moody, almost eerie vibe throughout the songs. So when we started writing for the sequel, that’s the direction we tried to push things musically. We tried to go for things that were a little more challenging or unconventional arrangements. Back then we were just young kids kinda fooling around and making music; we didn’t have a ton of knowledge about song formats and traditional arrangements for music. So with this album we tried to almost un-learn a lot of the standard song formats that have been beaten into our brain in the last five years and bring back that naivete we had when we were writing the first album.”
Gym Class Heroes are playing some of the new material on the road even before the album’s release, and the band’s leaked tracks such as “Martyrial Girls$” and “Life Goes On” (with Oh Land) online. They’ve also identified the likely next two singles — “Ass Back Home” and “The Fighter” — but they’ll be held back while “Stereo Hearts” is blasting near the top of the charts.
“Benny Blanco pitched us the idea, and we were like, ‘Yeah, that’s kinda cool. We can probably work with that,'” McGinley says of the song, which Gym Class Heroes may perform with Levine on the “Ellen DeGeneres” show next month. “We bumped the song out pretty quickly, I would say maybe in an morning and afternoon, and things developed quickly. And then at some point the idea of getting Adam Levine for the chorus popped up, and that was kind of crazy. We’ve been following Adam and Maroon 5’s career since their first album; actually, when we went in to cut ‘The Paper Chronicles’ we brought ‘Songs For Jane,’ the Maroon 5 record, as a reference of what we wanted some of our drum tones and guitar tones to sound like. So to have [Levine] on there was a really cool thing. It kind of brings it full circle in a way.”
Gym Class Heroes are on the road with Dirty Heads until Nov. 19. The group is also slated to play a couple of radio station holiday shows during December — including the Z100 Jingle Ball on Dec. 9 in New York — and plans to resume touring early in 2012.