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Gym Class Heroes: From indie rockers to mainstream

By Topher Gauk-Roger, CNN
November 13, 2012 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gym Class Heroes has gone mainstream while keeping an indie cred
  • Eleven years and five albums since their debut, the Heroes aren't slowing down
  • They worked with Ryan Tedder on "The Fighter," their latest single
  • Frontman Travie McCoy: I can't see myself giving this up anytime soon

(CNN) -- When a band spends as much time as the Gym Class Heroes has gaining momentum on the indie scene only to suddenly take off, there is always concern of selling out.

Yet the group has defied expectations by topping the mainstream charts while still holding on to its independent cred.

The Gym Class Heroes self-released their first album in 2001, and with 11 years and five albums now under their belt, they show no signs of slowing down. The band's latest, "The Papercut Chronicles II," hit shelves last November and has produced three hit singles.

"Stereo Hearts," a collaboration with Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, became one of the biggest songs of 2011, and it was even covered by the kids of McKinley High in the hit Fox series, "Glee." The followup cut featuring UK singer Neon Hitch, "Get Yourself Back Home," became the band's third Top 15 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

"The Fighter" is the Heroes' latest single, and it finds them working with hit songwriter and One Republic singer Ryan Tedder. The inspiring track got a number of plays during NBC's coverage of the summer Olympic Games, and the video follows Olympic gymnast John Orozco as he trained for the London events. Frontman Travie McCoy is quick to point out that all of their collaborations are more than name-dropping afterthoughts.

"The collaborations that we do are with artists that we feel fit on the song or can add something special to that particular song," he said. "It's never, ever been for namesake. The fact that we can even ... [that] we have the chance to reach out to artists that we look up to is amazing."

McCoy believes his band has fought hard to get this far, and they've learned never let anything get in their way of putting on a good show.

"I think coming up the way we did, playing shows in front of crowds that weren't necessarily there to see us ... we made sure that the 35 to 40 minutes that we had of their time, that they had a good time," he said.

The Gym Class Heroes broke through to the mainstream with the catchy 2007 hit "Cupid's Chokehold" from their third album, "The Papercut Chronicles." McCoy revealed how their latest became that record's sequel.

"I feel like the new record chronicles from the time we put that album out until now, like having hit records, working with artists that we look up to, touring the world, becoming fathers, getting married."

McCoy is aware of criticism the band may receive from fans they've had since their debut, but he doesn't let that stand in the way of moving onward and upward.

"We dealt with a lot of negativity and negative feedback from fans because we did shows with anyone who would let us be with them. We took it all in stride and stayed doing what we do...I can't see myself giving this up anytime soon."

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