Though it may or may not have anything to do with the band's name, Gym Class Heroes drummer Matt McGinley met frontman Travis McCoy at their Geneva, New York, high school in 1997. In a USA Today interview, Matt said of Travis, "He was way bigger than all of the kids, so he could fend off the bullies and stuff." Currently Matt and Travis are the only remaining founding members of Gym Class Heroes.
Encouraged by his pianist mother, Matt McGinley took up the drums when he was only eight years old. Fast forward to high school, and Matt was already in a band with fellow classmates Ryan Geise and Milo Bonacci. Matt McGinley met Travis McCoy when both of their bands played a birthday party one weekend.
Matt McGinley recalls, “Travis was a drummer at the time; he played for a band that sounded like a bad Nirvana…[My band] played rock and funk, kind of like Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five,’ but we had no musical identity. We played one original funk tune, and in the middle, Travis jumped on stage and grabbed a microphone and started rapping over it. It just clicked. We could feel the rest of the party being like, ‘Damn.’”
At Gym Class Heroes' beginning, neither Matt nor Travis had any "idea what kind of music [they] were going to play." Matt McGinley claims influences like KRS-One, Green Day, Wu-Tang Clan, The Roots, Rage Against the Machine, Company Flow, and Nirvana. Of their inclusive sound he says, "At first it was like, 'here's our hip hop song, here's our rock song, here's our jazz song, and funk song.' As we developed, it sort of meshed. It's to the point were it's definitely rooted in hip hop, but it has all these other arms and branches that extend into R&B and funk and rock music. So it's a little more seamless."
Together with the band's initial lineup, Matt and Travis developed GCH's unique hip hop/rock blend while playing smaller venues. Notably they incorporated live instruments into their act. Matt McGinley contributed heavy but lively beats as a solid backdrop for Travis's witty hooks and flows.
Matt McGinley was splitting his time between recording The Papercut Chronicles EP with Gym Class Heroes and attending college at SUNY Oneonta in 2003. After posting a few tracks from the previous week's work on PureVolume and MySpace, Matt McGinley got a call from Fall Out Boy's graphic designer. He offered his services, and Matt McGinley sent him a couple songs to inspire his artwork. The GCH song "Taxi Driver" (which incorporates Fall Out Boy and many other popular band names into the lyrics) caught the attention of Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, who in turn brought it to the attention of bassist Pete Wentz. Soon after, they signed with Wentz's Decaydance record label. Since then, Gym Class Heroes released several studio recordings, toured extensively, gained incredible exposure, and earned devoted fans along the way.
Matt McGinley hopes to pattern GCH's career after the Red hot Chili Peppers. Matt McGinley says, "A band like that has been making and pioneering great music for years and years. We aspire to do that--to create music that pushes the envelope and sounds different."
Matt McGinley was arrested in Mexico on March 12, 2007, for trespassing. He explained, "Basically, I partied a little too hard on Sunday night and, when I started to feel sick, left my band to walk back to the hotel...In my drunkenness, I staggered into what I thought was my hotel room and fell asleep in a chair. Several hours later I awoke to a room full of screaming, 'Policia,' as I had accidentally wandered into some dude's condominium and passed out." He spent thirty-two hours in a Mexican Jail and "it sucked."
Recently Matt McGinley has been assisting with photos on album liner notes for the likes of Boz Scaggs and The Shrine