Choke artists 

When Gym Class Heroes broke into the mainstream, so did their back catalog

click to enlarge It was a bittersweet moment. Gym Class Heroes like - bribes, sure, but theyd never been big Granny Smith - fans.
  • It was a bittersweet moment. Gym Class Heroes like bribes, sure, but theyd never been big Granny Smith fans.

Gym Class Heroes just might have the best name in popular music. Oh, and they might have the catchiest song, too.

"Cupid's Chokehold," the latest single from the upstate New York rap/punk rockers, is the second release from their 2006 As Cruel as School Children album to garner serious radio and MTV airplay. (The first was this summer's high-energy track, "The Queen and I".)

"Cupid" is an incredibly addicting track almost jarringly so thanks to lead singer Travis McCoy's slow-rhymed, lovelorn lyrics and a sing-along hook stolen from Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" (sung by Patrick Stump, the vocalist from Gym Class Heroes' labelmate Fall Out Boy.)

More importantly, the song marks a milestone for the band, and not just because of its success on pop radio formats. It's the first Gym Class Heroes song to sound distinctly theirs.

Of course, it pretty much sounded the same two years ago, when the band released the song's first incarnation.

"It's all a bit confusing," admits drummer Matt McGinley.

"Cupid," McGinley concedes, was originally released on 2005's The Papercut Chronicles. The guys even released a video for it then, shot with a digital camera and a couple hundred bucks, McGinley says.

Now it's back on School Children, with a little less oomph in the opening, and softer beats.

"It was kind of like supply and demand," McGinley says.

Last summer, as the guys in the band founding members McCoy and McGinley, plus guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and bassist Eric Roberts began their promotional tour for School Children, they were startled to hear that two radio stations, one in Milwaukee and another in Minnesota, had been playing "Cupid" on heavy rotation, with nary a push from the band's label. Things got even more surprising when a producer on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" approached them, assuming that they were "gonna do that Cupid song" for their appearance on the show. They didn't, instead choosing to perform "The Queen and I," as they had planned. But the comment certainly got the band's attention.

"We were like, "All right, this is weird,'" McGinley says.

Not weird in the sense that the guys never expected much to come from the track. They had quite high expectations, in fact, two years ago. But the buzz had since lulled. And the members of Gym Class Heroes started assuming that "Cupid's Chokehold" had run its course.

"We'd been playing that song every night for 2 years," McGinley says. "I guess that song is just kind of a late bloomer."

Then again, so is the band. Gym Class Heroes formed in 1997 when McGinley and McCoy met in a high school phys ed class. Seven years later, the band was signed to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz's label, Decaydance Records. So maybe the band sympathizes a bit with "Cupid." They know what it's like to be under the radar and then to blow up.

At the very least, Gym Class Heroes sympathizes with their newer fans the ones for whom "Cupid" still sounds fresh. And if that's what the crowds want to hear, McGinley says, he won't fight 'em.

"It's still a Gym Class Heroes song," the drummer says. "I wouldn't want to keep it from the people."


Gym Class Heroes with Rx Bandits, P.O.S. and k-os

Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood

Tuesday, March 20, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Sold out; look for scalpers in the area.


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