Gym Class Hero vocalist weighs in on ‘Woodies’

On Oct. 30, mtvU held another Q-and-A session among some of the music industry’s top artists and a panel of college journalists, promoting the 2007 edition of its “Woodie Awards,” which take place tomorrow night at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom.

Amid a flurry of announcements regarding presenters and performers, including the addition of hip-hop kingpins Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco as presenters and the removal of songstress Amy Winehouse as the show’s headliner, the college music network invited student reporters to chat with Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, Brad Delson of Linkin Park and Max Bemis, Say Anything’s ever-intriguing vocalist.

While Winehouse had to pull out of the event because of visa issues, Tokyo Police Club, Spank Rock and The Academy Is. will still be performing at tomorrow night’s festivities, which kick off at 8 p.m.

McCoy talked about picking up a moon man at the VMA’s and plugged some of the eager young emcees currently on tour with the group. Gym Class Heroes has been nominated for “Woodie of the Year.”

“It was like there’s no way we’re going to win this. We were just (supposed) to be nominated,” McCoy said about earning the “Best New Artist” honors, despite the fact that the band has been around for 10 years.

The Woodies’ main motif is exposing “the next big thing” to the mainstream. Gym Class Heroes knows all about the importance of receiving some help while climbing the ladder to rock stardom. They got a huge boost from Fall Out Boy and Pete Wentz’ Decaydence label during its three year ascension from being a relative unknown to a household name.

“I mean, right now I’m working my little cousin, Tiger,” McCoy said. “He’s 17-years-old. He’s out on tour with us right now. Patrick Stump produced his first single, it’s called ‘Wow,’ and he performs it right before we go on and kids go crazy. The response is really cool. He’s super-talented so I’m putting his record out within the next year.”

“After that I’m working with an emcee from the Bronx named Ax (who was on MTV’s ‘Fight Club,’ an emcee battle-type show). He was undefeated on there but he didn’t sign the waiver so he didn’t end up on the show,” McCoy continued. “He’s kind of just (in) the Bronx. He’s honing his craft and doing his thing and we became really good friends. He’s going to be the next artist that I put out.”

Max Bemis, the neurotic, sarcastic one-man lyrical army behind the music of Say Anything, talked about MTV’s role in spring-boarding them to the forefront of the congested “Warped Tour” scene. Say Anything is nominated for the “Best Video Woodie” for the zany video tied to its hit “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too.”

“I was (thinking) we’ll just be one of those bands that has a video that they play once in a while and it’ll be good for us,” Bemis said. “But the video for ‘Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too’ took off much more than we thought it would and MTV played it a lot. People were telling us all the time about how you couldn’t turn on MTV without seeing it.”

Bemis also explained the frequent changes in Say Anything’s lineup. The band has seen the departure of seven band members over the course of its last six albums.

“I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m a dick. I would just say that I’m definitely a control freak. I warn people about it as soon as they join the band,” Bemis said. “A lot of times people just had other interests like to go to college or (they) had a family to settle down with, you know what I mean?”

Linkin Park lead guitarist Brad Delson spoke about the band’s social activism and the experimentation process that led to the creation of its latest album “Minutes to Midnight.” Linkin Park has been nominated for “The Good Woodie,” because of the band’s work with Music for Relief. Plans are already in the works to bring aid to those affected by the South California wildfires.

“We helped start Music For Relief in response to the tsunami in south Asia and the mission of Music For Relief is to help the victims of natural disasters,” Delson said. “In the case of the California wildfires, Music For Relief is beginning its effort to help make a difference here in California. We’ve already donated $100,000 to Direct Relief, who was kind of on the ground right away helping to provide additional medical supplies to firefighters and people who needed those things.”

Delson also talked about the creative process behind “Minutes to Midnight,” the new chart-buster from the north Jersey band which features the singles “What I’ve Done” and “Bleed It Out.”

“There was an incredible amount of experimentation that went into achieving the sound of ‘Minutes to Midnight.’ We spent a year and a half actually in the studio writing over 150 songs and really trying everything,” Delson said. “I think (producer) Rick Rubin’s influence is really forcing us to be as open as possible to making something totally new.”

With the additions of Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, Spank Rock and mtvU’s penchant for last- minute announcements, tomorrow night’s “Woodie Awards” are shaping up to rock New York City to its musical core.