Throughout the 2000s, Gym Class Heroes were the cool kids of the pop music scene. The group owed much of its success to frontman Travie McCoy, whose equal love of punk and hip hop accounted for its unique sound. But after a 2012 hiatus, the band slipped into obscurity.
Were they just a flash in the pan, or is there more to come? Find out what happened to Travie and when we can expect to hear music from him again.
Travie McCoy Was The Lead Vocalist Of Gym Class Heroes
Travie McCoy, 39, was just a punk rock kid from upstate New York when he co-founded Gym Class Heroes with his high school buddy Matt McGinley. As the name suggests, the two bonded over music during their ninth-grade P.E. class. The group self-released their debut album in 2001, but their breakthrough came after being discovered by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz.
In 2006, they released As Cruel as School Children, produced by Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump. The certified Gold album produced radio hits like “Cupid’s Chokehold” and “Clothes Off!”, which helped the band claim spots on the Billboard 200 and the US Top Rap Albums chart.
At their height, Gym Class Heroes headlined the Warped Tour and had the attention of anyone involved in the MySpace and Total Request Live era of pop music. Their fame and promising future made their 2012 hiatus all the more mysterious.
Travie McCoy Dated Katy Perry For Two Years
From 2006 to 2008, McCoy dated singer Katy Perry. It was the first serious—and very public—relationship for the both of them. The couple exchanged promise rings and spent every second together, with Perry joining Gym Class Heroes on the 46-city, two-month-long Vans Warped Tour in 2008.
“We looked really cute together,” McCoy said on Behind the Music. “We get along better than any other girl I’ve ever hung out with in my life. That was the beginning of a really really awesome time for me… When I was around her I felt really at ease and comfortable with myself… It was the most amazing thing ever.”
But when the couple split at the end of 2008, McCoy was heartbroken. Perry reportedly dumped him over e-mail, and it took years for him to recover. By 2013, he told Vibe that there no hard feelings.
“That was almost seven years ago, maybe a little more,” said McCoy. “For me to hold a grudge that long, I’d be a bitter son of a b-tch. I have a lot more interesting things to do than hold a grudge.”
Perhaps he also takes solace in signs that karma is real. Perry moved on to Russell Brand, who in turn ended their marriage by sending her a text about it. As for her break-up with McCoy, she rarely commented on the matter except to say she was focused on her future. The only clue she’s provided about her feelings can be found in “Circle the Drain,” which she reportedly wrote about him. The song includes lyrics like “You could’ve been the greatest/But you’d rather get wasted” and “Wanna be your lover, not your [expletive] mother.”
McCoy Went On To Make ‘Billionaire’ Featuring Bruno Mars
In 2010, after Gym Class Heroes disappeared, McCoy reemerged as a solo artist. His debut album Lazarus wasn’t a huge success, but it did manage to produce one hit: “Billionaire” featuring Bruno Mars.
“When Bruno wrote the hook for ‘Billionaire’ and sang it to me, I was like, ‘This is cool, but we’re in a recession right now and I feel kind of awkward coming out the gate talking about wanting to have a lot of money,'” McCoy told Alternative Press. “But I posed a question to the listener, ‘If you had a billion dollars, what would you do with it?’ So a lot of what we talk about is pretty selfless… It’s about being a good person and not necessarily using the fact that you’re more fortunate than others and rubbing it in their face…”
The feel-good nature of the song resonated with listeners. “Billionaire” peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. Take a listen to McCoy’s highest-charting single to date:
So, What Happened To Travie McCoy And Gym Class Heroes?
Gym Class Heroes released their fifth studio album, The Papercut Chronicles II, in 2011. Its first single, “Stereo Hearts”, featuring Adam Levine, peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band went on to release three more tracks off the album, but in 2012, they parted ways.
The band was apparently unable to survive given McCoy’s descent into drug addiction. He admitted to his struggles as far back as 2007 and tried on multiple occasions to get clean. In 2017, after four years of sobriety, he shared details of his journey on R.A. The Rugged Man Show.
“I tore my ACL, MCL, meniscus; twisted all that [expletive] up so I’m in the hospital all summer and they put me on OxyContin,” said McCoy. “And they sent me home with a prescription full [of Oxy]… The first time I ran out, I got hella sick withdrawals… I’ve been clean for three and a half years, and it took literally me saying, ‘I’m gonna [expletive] die.’ I had to like talk to myself, like, ‘Do you want to die?’ And I was like, ‘[Expletive], no!'”
McCoy wrote in his personal blog that the pressures of fame were “enough to make an ox buckle at the knees mid-charge.” Not only did he cope with drugs, but by acting out. During Gym Class Heroes’ peak, he was arrested on two occasions: once in 2008 for hitting an audience member who shouted racial slurs at him, and again in 2010 for tagging the Berlin Wall in Germany.
By 2018, McCoy no longer resembled the cheerful rapper seen in former music videos. When photos of his emaciated frame emerged on Twitter, it caused some concern among fans.
Gym Class Heroes proceeded to reunite the same year, joining 311 and The Offspring on their Never Ending Summer Tour. The band was also scheduled to appear at the Vans Warped Tour 25th Anniversary show, but they abruptly broke up again. McCoy put on a solo performance instead and added Gym Class Heroes covers to the setlist.
Since then, there’s been no word of another reunion. But McCoy seems to be focused on creative pursuits. In a 2019 interview with Life in the Finger Lakes, he said he was working on music and painting. He’s also active on social media, where he appears happy and healthy.