It's 2005, and Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold / Breakfast in America" has taken over the pop charts. By the mid-2000s, pop was arguably in its golden era of relevancy. Artists such as Paramore and Katy Perry were running the music scene. However, you also had the members of Gym Class Heroes underneath the success of their Billboard Top 10 hit. Lead singer Travie McCoy met drummer Matt McGinley in high school, where the two of them would instantly connect and begin making music. With the two born and raised in New York, their diverse sound reflected the melting pot of sonic influences that they grew up around.
Back in 2001, the two released their debut album. However, McCoy and McGinley's breakthrough would come through meeting Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Wentz took an immediate interest in the group, taking Gym Class Heroes under his wing. By 2003, the group recruited guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and bassist Eric Roberts, signing to Wentz's Decaydance Records. You wouldn't know it now, but Gym Class Heroes' fusion of punk, hip-hop, soul, and reggae didn't resonate with mainstream audiences at the time. In essence, the group walked so many of the more experimental acts of today could fly.
Gym Class Heroes Disappeared Seemingly Overnight
Gym Class Heroes weren't just another hit-making pop group existing in a world of melodramatic choruses or overly produced soundscapes. McCoy had an influential uprising in punk and hip-hop, giving the group a unique sound. After 2005's The Papercut Chronicles, the duo released three more albums: As Cruel as School Children, The Quilt, and 2011's The Papercut Chronicles II. Their fifth studio album contained the global hit "Stereo Hearts," which featured Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.
Unfortunately, Gym Class Heroes' relevance would begin to fade over time. After "Stereo Hearts" and the resounding success of The Papercut Chronicles II, it seemed as if the musical world was at their fingertips. However, the group's reputation slipped into obscurity after a 2012 hiatus. Once the main topic of discussion on pop-based Myspace pages, McCoy was suddenly nowhere to be found.
Addiction & Personal Struggles
In retrospect, the downfall of Gym Class Heroes began back in 2006. At the time, McCoy was in a relationship with fellow superstar Katy Perry. The couple went as far as to exchange promise rings, with Perry joining Gym Class Heroes for the two-month-long Vans Warped Tour in 2008. It was the first serious relationship for McCoy. Therefore, Perry breaking up with McCoy over email reportedly took him years to recover fully. "That was seven years ago, maybe a little more," said McCoy. He told Suggest, "For me to hold a grudge that long, I'd be a bitter son of a b*tch. I have a lot more interesting things to do than hold a grudge."
Gym Class Heroes' disappearance was due to a variety of factors. Firstly, McCoy began pivoting towards a solo-focused career with 2010's Lazarus. Ahead of the project, he told Rolling Stone, "There's no bad blood at all" regarding his relationship with the band. While the album wouldn't consistently produce hits from front to back, the Bruno Mars-aided "Billionaire" peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it wasn't McCoy's relationships or aspirations of going solo that were the primary reasons for the derailment of Gym Class Heroes. Instead, it was McCoy's persistent struggles with drug addiction amidst his sudden fame.
A Reunion of Gym Class Heroes Looks Possible
Now 39 years old, McCoy has begun to open up regarding his ongoing struggles with fame in his early 20s. He previously told us, “It took one morning waking up and just going to my medicine cabinet and throwing my pills away and saying, like, ‘I’m choosing to live.’ I never thought I’d see 30, bro. Real talk. And I’m turning 40 next month." Now openly clean for several years, McCoy resurfaced with a new project in 2022. Never Slept Better didn't exactly do mainstream numbers - however, it expressed McCoy in a newfound state of peace and happiness in his life. In addition, Gym Class Heroes is set to perform at the When We Were Young Festival in October.
Outside of McCoy, the other members have gone on to have stellar careers in and out of the music world. McGinley would become a touring drummer for big artists such as Ben Abraham, Ryn Weaver, and Wafia. He now works as a music producer in New York. Disashi continues to live out his passion for music, and is now working on a new album under his Disashi Soul project. Eric Roberts would follow his lifelong love for food by owning his own restaurant, following in the footsteps of his father. He told Food Republic, "Actually, when we had some downtime between our two records, I started working again in the kitchen at a blues cafe down in Pennsylvania. Honestly, it's a great job to fall back on." In a nutshell, all of Gym Class Heroes' have found their own respective paths since the group was last a worldwide sensation.