Travie McCoy: The Evolution of a Rock Star

Travie McCoy is ok with being called a lot of things: a rapper, a singer, a rocker, a former addict, Katy Perry’s ex-boyfriend. Whatever you do…just don’t call him Travis unless you mean business. The Gym Class Heroes front man is out on his first solo journey and the wannabe billionaire is busy carving his […]

Travie McCoy is ok with being called a lot of things: a rapper, a singer, a rocker, a former addict, Katy Perry’s ex-boyfriend. Whatever you do…just don’t call him Travis unless you mean business. The Gym Class Heroes front man is out on his first solo journey and the wannabe billionaire is busy carving his spot in the music industry. With an eclectic infusion of rap, rock and pop, Travie’s sound is unique and unpredictable and his story can be described the same way. Between rough break-ups, drug addiction, juggling of multiple jobs and a mission to meet Oprah, it makes one realize “celebrities” have problems just like everybody else – they’re just magnified hundreds of times more. Travie sits down with AllHipHop to talk about these issues, plus name changes, Bruno Mars, his friendship with Lil Weezy and a whole lot more. I know you go by Travie now, but it was Travis originally…Travie McCoy: You rolled your eyes. Why’d you roll your eyes? I didn’t! I’m just saying, that’s your thing now right?Travie McCoy: It’s been my thing. But the people that don’t like, don’t totally follow me, aren’t in my circle…they didn’t know that. My family, friends, those that know me…they’ve always called me Travie ever since I was running around as a snotty nose. But this being my first venture out of Gym Class Heroes, I just wanted people to be comfortable with calling me what everyone else calls me. A lot of people, like fans, were p##### like, “I refuse to call you Travie! Your name’s Travis!” I’m like ok, fine! But it’s not that serious, you know? Nobody called Jimmy Hendrix “James” Hendrix. Or they didn’t call Bill Clinton “William” Clinton. Well, sometimes they did. Most times they didn’t, though. But I just feel like whenever someone calls me “Travis McCoy” it’s like when your mom yells at you. Like, “Travis get your a** back in the f**king house!” I don’t know. It’s just when you’re so used to being called Travie, it’s just weird to hear Travis. Press and all that, they call me Travis but whatever, call me what you want. I could have easily decided to come up with some corny rap name for my side project but I opted to just go with what everyone calls me.  So this is your first solo venture without your band, Gym Class Heroes. I know you’re a few months in it now, but was it weird at first not having your band behind you? Travie McCoy: We started the band in 1997. So close to half my life is invested into this band. Since the beginning we’ve all always had projects outside of Gym Class Heroes. Just other musical endeavors or whatever you want to call it, but this is just one that’s being put out on a larger scale. But being on tour with my band for the past however long, it was weird stepping out on the stage and looking to my right and not seeing Disashi. I’m looking to my left and not seeing Eric on bass, but Matt Archer from Gym Class tours with me so I have a familiar face. Matt plays drums for me so there was a familiar face but being on those stages like…I mean the first tour was the Rihanna/Ke$ha tour, so it was this huge stage that I kind of had to fill myself and make sure the people felt like they were part of something. It was awkward at first but after two or three shows I kind of got the hang of it. Was it always a plan in your mind like, “I’m going to branch off and do my own rap thing!”?Travie McCoy: Not really. Like it wasn’t something that I meticulously plotted like, “We’re gonna do like three GCH records and then I’m gonna branch out and do the solo thing and then we’re gonna come back together! No. I’m the type of person that has to have like, six pots on the stove and be stirring each one at the same time. You know, I got to be constantly productive and be doing something or I get depressed and sad. A lot of the stuff for my album Lazarus I was writing on tour with GCH. But a lot of the material I wrote, I felt it didn’t really fit a GCH record. To be completely honest, a lot of the stuff I did in the beginning I had to scrap. Right…I heard that 80% of the album you had to go back and do over because it was too “depressing.”Travie McCoy: Well it wasn’t really depressing it was just like, I just got out of a highly publicized break up [with Katy Perry] so a lot of the records reflected where I was at. A lot of it was a lot of animosity, a lot of confusion. I’m sure you’ve broken up with someone before right? Yeah…that didn’t go too well for me. Travie McCoy: Exactly! So all that came out in these songs and you know, this being my first big step away from GCH, I didn’t want it to be that type of record. After songs like Billionaire and Dr. Feel Good, I realized like, “alright, this is the lane I want to stay in!” Do you plan on getting back with Gym Class Heroes after this?Travie McCoy: We haven’t really gone anywhere. Since I’ve been on tour promoting this record, we’ve been writing for the next GCH record. Just putting in double duty and working extra on it so we’re about 16 demos deep into the next Gym Class Heroes record already. I mean, you never know. Like 3 to 4 of those 16 might make the record. You just never know but yea, a lot of people really thought that it was a wrap for GCH because I was doing this but that’s the furthest from the truth. GCH is and always will be the priority for me. While your first single “Billionaire” is definitely more rap infused, the newer single Need You is way more pop, more singing. Do you think it kind of confuses your audience? If you gained some hip-hop fans from the urban radio stations playing “Billionaire,” do you think you lose them at all when you follow up with a pop record that’s not necessarily going to be played on urban radio?Travie McCoy: Well I think that’s the beauty of Gym Class Heroes. The fact that we can get urban radio, we can get pop radio, we can get alternative radio and we can go on tour with Fall Out Boy, get off that and go on the I Am Music tour with Lil Wayne and T-Pain and still get the same love. I can do a tour with Ke$ha and Rihanna, you know? It’s always been so hard for them to classify us, so it’s given us so much freedom to do what we want musically and that carried over into my project. I think people kind of expect to not know what to expect from me or GCH. You guys were one of the first groups to infuse rap and rock and pop together…Travie McCoy: I think it was done before us, but it was done wrong.  Click here for Part 2