Though many local fans of alt rockers Gym Class Heroes may not know this, lead singer Travie McCoy lives among us. In Aventura for the last four years, to be exact. McCoy, originally from the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, who formed the fun-loving band in high school, is also an artist. The 31-year-old will be exhibiting some of his sketches and tattoo-inspired works at the Air Traffic Control store in Miami Beach Friday night.
You’re from a tiny town in the snow belt. How did you end up here?
People ask me where I’m from, and I say ‘Geneva.’ And they say, ‘Switzerland?’ I’m like, ‘Naw.’ I get a little emotional sometimes because I miss it. I’m looking at buying a house in the Rochester area just to have a place to go when I feel like a need a taste of Upstate. Growing up there and having the lake [Seneca] at my disposal, then living in New York by the East River, I guess there’s something with me being near the water and being able to function. But Miami is my little piece of heaven.
Most people know you as a singer and not as an artist.
I went to art school in Utica, N.Y., and I thought, ‘When all is said and done, I can either be a starving artist or an art teacher,’ so I decided to go for something more structured [with Heroes]. If it hadn’t been for music, I definitely would have chased a career in the art world.
What’s happening with Gym Class Heroes now?
We’re going into the studio to work on an EP of cover summer songs. Living here embodies eternal summer; that’s undeniable. There are some songs that I play in the morning to kind of get my day going. One we picked, Lovely Day by Bill Withers, for some reason it reminds me of being in the shower. It’s cool, one of those songs you can’t get sick of. I just have to get my vocal chops up. I’m also working on a mixtape with a few artists, then I will be doing a solo record.
No touring, then?
Not ’til next year. I’m enjoying my down time. We’ve been out on the road for the last nine years nonstop. I know I’ll get the itch again. I’m just going to ride my break out as far as I can. Other than going to the studio, I don’t leave like a six-block radius: Publix, Whole Foods. And Aventura Mall is literally across the street from me. I don’t have to venture out too much. I just bring a few big guys out with me.
The “Rich Event” is 7 p.m. Friday at Air Traffic Control. 1601 Washington Ave., 305-531- 2000.