‘Hero’ talks collabs, rumors

Gym Class Heroes’ Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and vocalist, Travie McCoy, rocked the crowd of UH students at Cullen Performance Hall on Thursday.  |  Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

Gym Class Heroes’ Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and vocalist, Travie McCoy, rocked the crowd of UH students at Cullen Performance Hall on Thursday. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

What follows is an exclusive Daily Cougar interview with Disashi Lumumba–Kasongo, lead guitarist and backup vocalist for Gym Class Heroes.

The Daily Cougar: Welcome to Houston

Disashi: Thanks. I was born here

TDC: Oh, really? What part are you from?

Disashi: I don’t remember — I was only here for about a year.

TDC: Well, that still counts.

Disashi: Yeah, (chuckle) I’ll take it.

TDC: When did you join the band?

Disashi: I joined the band actually before “The Papercut Chronicles,” was released. (The band’s second album released in 2005.) The day I joined the band we actually wrote “Cupid’s Chokehold,” so it was kind of crazy.

TDC: Well, that makes me think you are the mastermind behind the song then.

Disashi: (Chuckles) Yeah, well… no comment.

TDC: The new album, which came out last year, is the second part to (“The Papercut Chronicles”). What is different about this one?

Disashi: The big differences are that we have just grown as individuals and have had a lot of different experiences, you know, between the time that the album was written and now. Our band has grown in so many ways just in terms of our, I guess, popularity. People know about us a lot more. We have all had different family experiences. I am married now and a couple of us have kids, you know. Just life has happened. We’ve gotten a lot of new musical inspirations along the way and all of that has made its way into influencing the sound of the new record.

TDC: Since you have been with the band you saw the rise compared to some bands out there, it was quick. How did that feel?

Disashi: Well, even though it was quick in a sense, it always felt pretty gradual because we started out in a fifteen passenger van just touring around the country for two or three years straight without any specific mainstream success. Just playing clubs, opening up for whoever we could open up for — punk bands and hip-hop bands, whoever would listen. By the time that “Cupid’s Chokehold” finally got recognized by MTV and radio stations and stuff like that, we’d been doing it for what felt like a chunk of time for us. Then, once that happened, things really escalated at a quick rate, like you were saying.

TDC: That is a great surprise.

Disashi: Yeah, it was pretty cool. It was definitely a whirlwind at the time because it was such a new experience … there were so many experiences at the same time, and it was tough to take it all in. Now, I think my perspective has changed a lot,

We are fortunate enough that people still care about our band. It’s not as much of a whirlwind, and I am able to take each day as it comes.

TDC: For the album, “The Quilt,” you guys collaborated with a lot of people, and now with Adam Levine (for “Stereo Hearts”). How was that?

Disashi: It was awesome. I wasn’t there when he recorded the song itself, but the first day that we were rehearsing “Stereo Hearts” — we hadn’t played a show in a good chunk of time, so we rented out a rehearsing studio in California — we were like, “Alright, lets practice the song, we have to practice since it’s the first single.” We started playing the song for the first time and, apparently — unbeknownst to us or Adam Levine — we were both in the same rehearsal space.

He was filming for “The Voice,” his show. So we start playing the song and then all of sudden, I guess Adam and his people were there and they were like, “Is that ‘Stereo Hearts’ playing right now?” So we were playing the song and (when) we get to the chorus, Adam just bursts through the door and just picks up the mic and starts wailing the chorus.

TDC: Was the sun beaming behind him?

Disashi: He had a cape on in my recollection — that’s how I remember it.

TDC: Milo left the band and made Ra Ra Riot, have you guys ever played with them?

Disashi: No, I don’t believe we have. I don’t think so.

TDC: That would be cool.

Disashi: Yeah, it would. Actually, I remember when I was joining the band, Milo was really cool, he wrote out all of the tabs for stuff that he had written and was just like, “Hey man here is the stuff. If you have any questions let me know.” He was really cool about it. It was a really amicable kind of thing.

TDC: Yeah, well, that is the awkwardness that some bands have — the whole break up and then the comeback. Like the hiatus that you guys had, there were so many rumors going around.

Disashi: Well, Travis was doing his stuff, and I think that it spawned a lot of talk about Gym Class Heroes being broken up, which we weren’t. The rest of us were always working on music for “The Papercut Chronicles II” while all of that was going on, and then eventually, after that, we got the lyrics in tune — so we have been working on that album for a long time. We’d do these things where we would be in a studio and we would be on a webcam and talking with kids on the Internet live saying, “We are in the studio…blah blah blah,” and then, like, I’d go on Twitter and see, “Gym Class Heroes is still broken up.” (Chuckles) We were just in the studio —we are here right now.

TDC: Well, in 2008 you guys played with Paramore. Who would you like to play with — not just at a Warped Tour, but in a general tour?

Disashi: I would actually like to do a tour with Paramore, in general. I love them and their music. I would love to tour with Radiohead. (Chuckles)

TCD: Is that what is on your playlist right now? Radiohead?

Disashi: Right now, I went back and started listening to “The Dreams” first record. It’s really good.

TDC: I know all of you guys bring different genres to your music. What do you think your genre is?

Disashi: I would go with classic rock — that vibe, just guitar and rock and roll.

TDC: You guys have all the genres in your albums.

Disashi: I think that is just a part of what it means to be in our band. We are lucky enough that our band is not limited to one kind of thing, because I think as an artist that could get boring.

TDC: That adds to your mass appeal also. Where are you guys going to play next?

Disashi: We are going to be doing a lot of college tour dates in March.

TDC: No other dates then?

Disashi: There is nothing specific but you know the door is always open.

TDC: And you guys are Gym Class Heroes, you can book whenever you want.

Disashi: Yeah, we do whatever we want. (Laughs)

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