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Some people just don’t know how to stop working. When your full-time job is fronting a successful band like Gym Class Heroes, the obvious use of downtime might be to just take it easy, relax and smell the roses. Not for Travie McCoy. Even with the Heroes still going strong, the singer’s idea of a vacation is putting out a solo record and getting back out on the road. After a highly publicized break-up (with pop starlet Katy Perry), and the end of a long-standing struggle with pharmaceutical addiction, keeping busy with music is Travie’s way of staving off the darkness in his life. Lazarus is McCoy’s statement that he will not let that darkness get the best of him.

Most musicians make solo albums when their bands break up, but you have made it clear that Gym Class Heroes are sticking around. What compelled you to make a solo album at this point?
Just being on tour all the time. Constantly writing and whatnot, I just had compiled a bunch of material that was just suitable to work with producers that are more up and coming. I was on tour with Lil Wayne and T-Pain, and I started working with Pain on some stuff. Those songs started to progress and so I thought, why not just work with this project? It wasn’t a meticulously plotted thing, but I’m really stoked that I decided to do it.

Titling the album Lazarus suggests a resurrection theme, yet you haven’t really taken too much time away from the spotlight.
It’s my middle name, and I feel like the title Lazarus is synonymous with the last couple years of my life. There were some dark patches. I was in a cave, to say the least, for a while, and I have my friends to thank for pulling me out of it. I kind of do feel like I kind of got a second chance. Being pulled out of that cave is synonymous with the story of Lazarus.

You are just about to head out on tour with Rihanna and Ke$ha, which I think makes you pretty much the only person in pop music who can jump from playing with pop stars like that to the Fall Out Boy and the Warped Tour set, to T-Pain and Weezy.
I think that’s kind of the beauty of Gym Class Heroes and what I do. There’s not many acts that can flip-flop and tour with T-Pain and Wayne to Rihanna and then to All-American Rejects. It has a lot to do with the fact that we never really cornered ourselves and said, “This is the type of artist we are,” or “This is the type of music we make,” and it gave us that freedom to have free range and do what we want to do musically, but also to appeal to a wide variety of people. I think it’s a blessing. We take full advantage of it, to say the least.

Your DJ for the tour is Million $ Mano. Are you guys going to be working on any projects together?
Totally. Last night we actually just started working on some stuff. We’re trying to finish an album. Well, it’s not enough to say an album, but just a project, and everything will be done during this tour. So it’s all fresh. We were thinking about names last night. He goes by Million $ Mano. We were thinking of calling it the Billion $ Mano project, or Million $ Lazarus. We were just thinking about different names. He’s a sick producer. On top of being a great DJ, he is also a great producer. Actually Mano produced a track for the last Gym Class record that didn’t make the album. We’ve been in cahoots for a while, so I’m excited to see what happens. 

Let’s say you became a billionaire today. What would be the first thing you would buy?
A pad in St. Lucia would probably be the first thing I’d buy. I go there to get away. It’s kind of my sanctuary when I’m off tour and need to get away for a week or so.

In “Billionaire”, when you drop the lyric, “You can call me Travie Claus minus the Ho Ho,” are you referring to a certain specific someone?
Nah, nah. Honestly, a lot of people thought it was a stab at Katy, but that was almost two years ago, and people tend to think that I’ve just been agonizing or just grovelling over this relationship for years, which is the farthest thing from the truth. There’s been a few situations after that relationship that that particular line could pertain to.

Words by:  EVAN MILLAR