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How Busta Rhymes Helped Gym Class Heroes Sew Their "Quilt"

May 6, 2008 5:56 PM ET

Since we last spoke to Gym Class Heroes about the recording of their third LP, the band has embarked on a college tour to debut songs from their new album The Quilt, due this July. When we caught up with the band this weekend at Bamboozle, frontman Travis McCoy and drummer Matt McGinley talked about their recent touring, as well as their recording sessions with Busta Rhymes and Daryl Hall.

"The college tour has been kind of a warm-up for us. We've been playing four or five new songs," McGinley says. "We have more prepared, but we find that some songs almost don't translate to the live show as well [right now]."

"Some of the songs are a little moody," explains McCoy. "Not that this album has dark undertones, but this past year has been so crazy for us with success and personal things, like my cousin committing suicide last November. It bubbled to a point where I went out to record in L.A. and I freaked out. I was so excited, but I was going through so much shit emotionally so I jetted out of L.A. and went back to Miami."

While in Miami, McCoy met up with Andre "Dre" Christopher Lyon, one half of production duo Cool & Dre (who worked on The Quilt). "Me and Dre are kindred spirits," McCoy says. It was Dre who helped McCoy de-stress enough to head back L.A. and hit the recording studio — but not before hooking Gym Class Heroes up with a guest vocal from Busta Rhymes. In his best Busta voice, McCoy recalls Busta's reaction after Dre played a demo for him on speakerphone: "Yo! I'm coming to Miami right now! If you don't save me a verse on this song, I'm going to kill all of ya'll."

Though McCoy says he'll never assign song titles until a track is complete — "That's like naming your baby before it's born, and what happens if you name it Scott but it comes out looking like a Michael?" — the Busta jam is tentatively called "Peace Sign." "It was that hyped '95 animated Busta that I've been in love with forever," McCoy says gleefully.

Another high point in recording was Daryl Hall's guest session on the track "Live Forever," about McCoy's cousin. "Playing along to that track was a pretty surreal experience," McGinley says.

"At the end of it he did this whole stream of conscious improv freestyle thing and we just let him go," McCoy says. "I broke down in tears because he was saying all these things that were so relevant; I felt like I witnessed magic."

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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