20 Questions

Travie McCoy (Bamboozle Festival)

by Evan Sawdey

14 April 2011

After conquering the charts with Gym Class Heroes and introducing Bruno Mars to the world, Travie McCoy takes his unique skills to this year's Bamboozle Festival, but not without a good game of ping pong under his belt first . . .
Photo: Quang Le 

Let’s briefly discuss the two careers of Travie McCoy.

The first one involves his band, Gym Class Heroes.  Formed in 1997 with his long-time friend Matt McGinley, the group is best described as “alternative hip-hop”—they mix quirky lyrics, samples, and left-field cameos with tracks ranging from party anthems to somewhat more thoughtful meditations.  After being signed to Fueled By Ramen, the band really broke through with their 2006 sophomore album As Cruel as School Children, which generated single after single, ranging from the Patrick Stump-assisted “Cupid’s Chokehold” to the Rockwell-sampling “Clothes Off!”.  The album was a hit, and spurred the band to record the more rock-oriented 2008 The Quilt, which debuted in the Billboard Top 20.
The second career involves Travie McCoy the solo artist.  Following his breakup from pop singer Katy Perry, McCoy initially wanted to a more acoustic guitar-based record, but wound up rejiggering a few things in the process, working with a new smattering of producers including this unheard-of kid named Bruno Mars.  The song they made together, the easy-going “Billionarie”, became a Top 5 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and not only had McCoy freed himself of being perpetually labeled as a quirky alt-rap MC, but he wound up becoming a huge part of the meteoric rise of Bruno Mars as well, increasing McCoy’s clout even moreso.

It’s that same clout that is bringing McCoy to this year’s Bamboozle Fest, April 29th-May1st in East Rutherford, NJ.  Leading up to the event, McCoy sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, he revealing a surprisingly skilled hand at ping pong, a kindred spirit in a Tom Hanks character, and how he’s finally learned when to stop overthinking . . .
* * *

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
For Colored Girls .

2. The fictional character most like you?

Tom Hanks in Big. I’m a big kid at heart.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Hall & Oates’ Private Eyes.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars.

5. Your ideal brain food?

A good book.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I’m proud I’ve been able to pay my rent doing what I love because I hate real jobs.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

I’d like to be remembered as someone that lived life by his own rules with no regrets.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Nat Turner, civil rights activists like Gandhi, MLK, and Medgar Evers.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

Ping Pong.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

My manager Jonathan told me an album is never finished; you just have to know when to stop.  I tend to overthink things in the studio.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The best thing I ever bought is my dog Stitch. He’s the best friend & companion. 

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?

Levi’s that have been broken in a good 2-3 years.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
All my family alive and passed, but I’d definitely invite all my favorite musicians—Hall & Oates, Prince, Michael Jackson, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye—and pick their brains a bit.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Back to the 80s, but with everything I know now.  Being a kid during the 80s, I feel I didn’t really get the full experience.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

A movie with my dog.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?

Parliament Lights and my dog.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

St. Lucia, West Indies.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

“A” for Effort.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

The Papercut Chronicles II! Get ready!

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