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Evolution of the jam

Imagine an album that stitches together musical genres, multi-generational guest-stars and pop-punk style, and you have The Quilt.

Imagine an album that stitches together musical genres, multi-generational guest-stars and pop-punk style, and you have The Quilt.

On that album, Gym Class Heroes (GCH) play out like a poppier Roots: A jam-band fronted by a rapper but that aims at the Fall Out Boy demographic. Hip-hop purists hear the band’s guitars and drums, while the pop-punks focus on their raps. But no matter the milieu, the band doesn’t tailor their performance to the crowd.

“We don’t play differently, but are perceived differently,” said drummer Matt McGinley. “At the end of the day, whether it’s rock, hip hop, R&B, soul or funk, all the influences we find within ourselves come out when we play.”

As with any group that wears influences squarely on both sleeves, GCH must tackle the ensuring debate: Is their music original or derivative? McGinley, when asked if he thinks artists are comfortable wearing their influences proudly, said that’s true to a certain extent.
“It’s all about being inspired and influenced by somebody — (and) to be using (these influences) in new and creative ways, rather than being obvious,” he said.

When the band started out 10 years ago, McGinley was drawn to jazz and funk percussion, while founding member Travis McCoy delivered his verses through raps. McGinley learned to play drums to ?uestlove’s work on The Root’s album Things Fall Apart, and the duo looked to that group’s innovative approach to rap music and ability to jam out their songs.

“We didn’t set out to be a hip-hop band — we were just kids who wanted to make noise in our parent’s living rooms. Over the years we moved towards that kind of sound,” said McGinley. “It’s cool to be able to showcase your musical chops and abilities as a band … but it’s all about what can enhance the song.”

For example, in the seven-minute long Live Forever, Darryl Hall laid down a really long, freeform outro.

“(Darryl was) assuming we would fade it out at reasonable length of time, but we thought it sounded cool, so why not let him kill it,” said McGinley.

 
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