With their blinged-out video for “Clothes Off” still riding high in the “TRL” top five a year after the group’s latest album was released, you’d think Gym Class Heroes would finally be kicking back and enjoying the charts.But instead, the group is prepping a most unusual remix album for later this year; touring Australia opening for Gwen Stefani for the next week; and then heading to Japan for some headlining shows. The guys will then make their way to Paris on August 21 and London the 22nd for the Decaydance Fest, featuring their pals Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, the Academy Is … and Cobra Starship. With barely a chance to breathe, they’ll hit the road again in the U.S. in the fall with Fall Out Boy and Plain White T’s.
And though they’re not expected to hit the studio before the end of the year for a new album that could drop by next summer, fans might get a holiday treat from lead rapper/singer Travis McCoy and the boys in the form of McCoy’s dream project.
According to a management spokesperson, the Supertramp-sampling Heroes have just signed off on a mash-up album that mixes the group’s 2006 album, As Cruel as School Children, with more than 40 tracks by ’70s/’80s soft-rock superstars Hall & Oates.
The mix, done by DJ J.J. Brown – who released a similar free mash-up in May for Ludacris featuring Jackson 5 tracks called Re-Release Therapy – could be out before the end of this year if all the sample clearances go through soon.
Brown prefers the term “match-up” to mash-up for his process, which, in the case of Ludacris, involved taking the a capella version of the MC’s Release Therapy album and matching it to whole Jackson 5 tracks.
“We’ve been making indie rap records since 1998, and Trav has always been a huge fan,” Brown explained of the relationship, which began a few years ago when the Heroes opened up for Brown’s crew. After the Ludacris album was released, McCoy called up and asked if Brown and his 5G Productions team could do the same with the Heroes’ album.
“We asked him if he had any suggestions for catalogs – and he didn’t know our camp were huge fans of Hall & Oates – and [McCoy] stuttered a bit and said, ‘What about Daryl Hall and John Oates?’ since [the Heroes’ summer] tour was called ‘Daryl Hall for President,’ ” Brown recalled. “The timing was crazy, because we almost did the Ludacris album with Hall & Oates, so we had the stack of records waiting for the next thing.”
Since the Heroes didn’t have an a capella version of their album, they went back in the studio in early summer and opened up the original session tapes to provide the tracks for the 5G team, who spent the next five weeks remixing the album. Not only did 5G not get a cease and desist from the Hall & Oates camp, Brown said, but in a remarkable coincidence, a company that bought the blue-eyed soul duo’s catalog sent out an e-mail to the managers of several hot groups earlier this summer asking them if they had any ideas for new ways to market the tunes.
That led to a meeting with the new owners of the H&O catalog, which Brown said went better than he could have imagined. “We got past song number two, and everyone is on their Blackberries!” he said. “Hall & Oates’ managers are on the phone, the original producers of the tracks are on the phone. When I imagine in my fantasy world what might happen with a great idea, it was happening. We’re New York hip-hop producers, and we’re used to sampling things and hoping the artists don’t catch us. Now we’re doing it with their blessing and they’re impressed with what we’re doing.”
How impressed? Two weeks ago, Brown and his partner were given the VIP treatment at an H&O show in New York, where the duo were as excited to meet Brown as he was to meet them. “I was trying not to be star-struck, but whenever I paid them a compliment, they hit us back with five more.”
No release date has been set for the Heroes match-up album so far, but Brown said he’s been told it might be part of a package the group is planning to release before the end of this year.