Gym Class Heroes Interview with Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo (Guitarist)
While on Warped Tour, I got a chance to speak with Gym Class Heroes guitarist, Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, reagarding the tour, their forthcoming album and their hit single with Maroon 5's Adam Levine.
How has Warped Tour been thus far? Disashi: So far, Warped has been awesome! Gym Class Heroes hasn't really toured in two years or so. This is our first big tour, since the last time that we toured. So the first couple of shows we were getting the technical kinks out. So we were frustrated about that, then we would go to signing's and the kids would be like "We are so glad to have you back! We missed you so much!" That brought our spirits right back up. Everything from that point forward has just been getting tighter and tighter. better and better. Are you planning on touring in the fall? Disashi: We are doing nationwide tour with Dirty Heads, and we are going to the UK in early October. Once the album drops, it's just touring for seven or eight million years(laughs). The new album is a couple years in the making correct? Disashi: It literally is. Our new album is entitled The Papercut Chronicles II, and so the last couple of years a lot of kids speculated/rumored that we had broken up. We've never broken up, Travis was just working on his stuff and we have all been working on our own stuff as well. Literally that entire time we have been hard at work on The Papercut Chronicles II. We've gone as far as renting out abandoned Churches, to working in big production studios. We have done everything on every side of the spectrum to make sure the album is as good as we want it to be. If you name the album The Papercut Chronicles II, it's got to be as good as the first one. Where did you get some of the ideas to work in places like abandoned Churches? Disashi: I think that we just think of what we feel at the time, you know? I'm from Ithaca New York, and the guys were like "maybe we could record where your spots at?" and I was like "alright, cool!" we started looking into locations and we were like "here's an abandoned Church, how about that? Cool!" That's how a lot of things end up working out with our band. Whatever seems right at the moment, is what we will go with. That's probably how you guys have been able to put out albums that have completely different sounds, and that progress with each album. What kind of differences do you see with this album, in comparison to your previous album, The Quilt? Disashi: The biggest thing with this album is that we worked together, as musicians, more than we ever have. With our current line-up, we are really comfortable with playing with each other and bouncing idea off of one another. There were songs off of this album that came about when were jamming, then the next thing you know we have a song. There were also songs where a producer, that we think is awesome, might give us a beat and then we will go in there in a day and just bang it out. I think that's been one of the parts that I have enjoyed the most, spending time in the studio with those guys and just getting to enjoy the fact that we are real musicians. That we can take a song go in there and put our twist on it fairly easily at this point, which is awesome. I feel like there's a lot of music out there, and a lot of performers that kind of fake it. Not to call anyone out, but as a kid growing up today I would hate to grow up and not know what it's like to see a live band that really loves to play music and loves to play their instruments. It feels good to be able to give back to people.
Photo by Laura Means
Before you started working on the album(The Papercut Chronicles Part II), did you decide on a direction that you wanted to take the album in? Disashi: I think that the most important thing for us was to find some ways to keep cohesive the themes of the original The Papercut Chronicles, to the new The Papercut Chronicles II. In everything that we've been working on, we have been making sure from time to time, "alright is this still connecting the two?" Obviously, our line-up is different between now and then, a lot of the experiences that we have had have helped us grow, so we aren't the same people anymore. But yet, we want to still make sure that it's relevant, because it is a sequel. We revisited some of the musical themes, and stuck them in there as well as some of the lyrical themes. I think there are going to be times where, anyone who has listened to the original The Papercut Chronicles, will go listen to the new one and say "whoa! I remember that!" Which is cool, and that's what we want people to experience, but at the same time we don't want to re-make the album, because we can't remake the album. We want to just make the best version of The Papercut Chronicles II that we can make. You have a single out now, called "Stereo Hearts," featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5. How did that come together? Disashi: Originally when we joined the band, we gave our manager a list of people that we'd love to work with and Maroon has always been someone that we have bumped to, even when we were in our "van days." We've never done a collaboration with Adam yet, but when we were going in to work with Benny Blanco on this song, his name came up and we were like "Awesome," because he is someone that we have looked up to. I think that's how it should be when you do a collaboration, because I would hate to use someone as a collaborator just because they are popular at the time. I would much rather use someone who we resect as an artist, and who we feel fits the song. Adam definitely blew it out of the park. Speaking of Adam and that song, that was awesome that you guys were randomly on NBC's The Voice. Disashi: yeah, it's funny because it was random. People don't believe us that it was random, but we literally went to rehearse the song together as a band for the first time, and we just happened to be in the spot that Adam was filming for The Voice. We were playing the song and then Adam Levine just busts through the doors with a camera crew like Clark Kent and just picks up the mic and starts belting out the chorus. We were like "really?" and he said "by the way, this is going to be on The Voice," and were like "okay(laughs)!" We were just setting up and getting ready in a warehouse/rental space. Of course Travis(McCoy) has a side project, but what are some of the other side-projects in the band? Do you have one?
Photo by Laura Means
Disashi: Eric's got a band called Willing Swords, and it straight Metal, with growling. He actually works with our keyboard player Tyler Parcel and their stuff is available on iTunes. Matt has been doing some production here and there. people don't really know that Matt has a tone of production ability and ideas, which is really cool. My project is called Soul and it used to be called the Midnight Society. It is rock/pop and I sing and write almost all of the music. My fiance does some singing to, and some of the song writing as well. It's been awesome and I am going to be working on that more and more as the year progresses.