By Allison Milton/The AS Review
On October 17, Gym Class Heroes graced our campus with a rocking concert accompanied by Bellingham’s own Somebody Cares. In the midst of their busy day, filled with sound checks, Chick-Fil-A and walking around Western’s campus, The AS Review got the opportunity to sit down with GCH’s guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo to talk music, touring and more.
The AS Review: For those Western students who are not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
Disashi: I’d describe it as hip-hop based rock ’n’ roll. Basically, our music is rooted in hip-hop but we all experiment with so much other stuff- pop, jazz, rock-that it’s really hard to describe our music to anyone. I know every band says that, but it really is for us.
ASR: Gym Class Heroes have played a lot of college shows. What makes you want to play shows for us college students?
D: I remember being in college and I remember the experience when a band would come over that I was stoked on and that’s one of those things that you take with you for the rest of your life… It’s really cool… having had that perspective and then being on this side of it. I know it’s cool in terms of the memories that I leave for kids.
Several years later we ended up playing at a big festival at Cornell [Lumumba-Kasongo alma matter], and it was my redemption show because I came around full circle and I was able to let people see that I have actually been doing something with my life. It was definitely one of my favorite shows that we’ve ever done.
ASR: Your single “Cookie Jar” relate women to types of cookies. Do you have a favorite kind of cookie?
D: I literally really enjoy peanut butter cookies and macadamia cookies.
A: If you could record a song or an album with anyone, which one artist would you want to collaborate with?
D: Living or dead, I would probably want to collaborate with Jimmy Hendrix. That would be mind-blowing.
A: How did your band form?
D: When I was in high school and college I was in another band and we would play shows around the area and eventually we played a show [with] the Gym Class Heroes lineup at that time in Syracuse, and I met those guys and it was a really cool show. So, fast forward a couple years later. I wasn’t playing shows as much regularly with the other band, I was kind of doing my own thing, and Gym Class Heroes was just about to start touring regularly and their guitarist was trying to pursue academic endeavors and I was trying to do music, so they remembered me and asked if I would be interested and I was like “oh yeah, definitely.”
A: With the craze of social networking and media – Twitter, MySpace and Facebook – do you update your own? Are you the one tweeting?
D: I twitter all the time. I personally have a MySpace, Twitter, blog, Tumblr [and] Facebook. All that I do myself.
A: What is your favorite song to perform? Is there one particular song that makes the crowd go crazy?
D: Actually “Cookie Jar” has been a lot of fun on this tour. Except for the drunk dude that seems to be in every single audience following us from state to state screaming “play Cookie Jar!” when we’re two songs deep. But, except for that, “Cookie Jar” has been a lot of fun to play just because it is such an epic kind of song. “Live A Little” has been a lot of fun to play and “Guilty As Charged” has been fun, we get people to do our Gym Class Two-Step.
A: You guys have a very rigorous touring schedule, so what do you do to unwind at the end of the day?
D: This tour has been crazy. On this tour particularly there hasn’t been time to unwind. We fly in, get to the show, I wake up in the van not knowing where the hell I am, go to sound check, play the show and then have a flight the next day at six, so drive back to wherever the hotel is and then wake up two hours later to fly to the next place. So, that’s been pretty much this entire tour. So, there hasn’t been time to unwind. But, we did just spend a couple days in L.A. and I spent those eating and I’ve been reading a bunch and trying to get back in shape.
A: What is the one item that you have to bring with you on tour, or the one thing that you have to do?
D: It used to be my iPod, and I still think that’s pretty damn crucial. I’ve been trying to chill out so much. I’ve been trying to check out the campuses that I am on more and experience the road more. It’s really easy on tour to get stuck in a room, with your iPod for example, and just not do anything and sometimes you have to do that, but I’ve been trying to let that stuff go. So, I guess I am trying to need one thing less and less.
A: What is the craziest mode of transportation you have ever had to take while on tour?
D: For some Detroit concert we had to go to some after-party but we had to get there pretty immediately, so they had us take these golf cart-ish type-thingies, but on the actual street, it wasn’t like at a college campus or something, we were actually driving on the road – that was pretty cool. [Also], we played [at] a ski resort and we had to use one of those [gondolas] and it was absolutely terrifying, I’m not [a fan] of heights at all. And then people kept jumping up and down on it because they knew that I was scared of heights – just a bunch of bullies.
A: What do you do when you aren’t performing or recording? Any interesting hobbies?
D: I just had a baby seven months ago so there hasn’t been all that much time for hobbies in between touring and being at home, a lot of baby time. I guess diaper changing has become my default hobby.
A: What is the next step for Gym Class Heroes?
D: Last night [Friday, October 16], we just finished shooting a video for “Live A Little.” It was crazy. Pretty much it was right on the spot. We shot on campus at [UC] Irvine. It was absolute pandemonium. The college was going to get fined a whole bunch of money if we didn’t get done within a certain amount of minutes, but we were moving at a snail’s pace. Everyone was freaking out, it was crazy. Aside from that, we are in the writing process of some new material for Gym Class Heroes, which is really exciting because writing is fun. Right now, we have been posted up in central New York and recording some ideas, which is cool and fun. So far, I am really stoked on it and stoked to see what comes from it.