Travis Barker dishes on YUNGBLUD, drummers, exes and life as an alien
In this 10 Topics interview from AltPress 369, blink-182's percussive force and hip-hop mixmaster dishes on the problems with drummers, YUNGBLUD and who would be onstage if Comedy Central ever roasted him.March 11, 2020
We don’t think Travis Barker ever slows down. While most of his days require some sort of drumming or mixing-related activity (blink-182, $uicideboy$), Barker does find time to ruminate on other things. He shared a few of them with Jason Pettigrew.
THE COMPLIMENT YOU GOT FROM THE WEIRDEST QUARTERS.
I guess it’s when old people say they like my drumming. I know what you’re thinking: How did they hear it? [Laughs.] I have absolutely no clue.
YOUR BACK TO THE BEACH FESTIVAL TAKES PLACE ON HUNTINGTON BEACH, THE BIRTHPLACE OF SLAM DANCING, NOW MOSHING. COINCIDENCE?
Just maybe. It’s probably the most awesome festival to have in that city because of the scene that was there and for so long. The punk-rock scene in Orange County has always been super-strong. Music in general, really: Bands like Korn started to make their mark there, too. But punk shows that I’ve experienced there in the last two decades have been insane.
IF THERE WAS A COMEDY CENTRAL ROAST OF YOU, WHO WOULD BE ONSTAGE WITH YOU?
I imagine everyone I’m in a band with or have been in a band with. An artist I’ve worked with. Ex-girlfriends. Wives. One-night stands. [Laughs.] I’m fucked.
THE THING THAT MOST DRUMMERS GET WRONG.
If you’re in a band, don’t be boring. I have a friend of mine who was like, “Dude, your hands still bleed all the time. What the fuck? You should try this technique.” And I’m like, “Of course I know that technique: I was in marching and jazz bands and learning the [most] correct technique possible.” I threw it all out the fucking window because I wanted to have a fun, good and entertaining and exciting show. I want to hit shit as hard as I fucking can. That’s what counts: If you’re playing live, perform.
THE SECRET TO MAINTAINING YOUR STAMINA.
Running and battle ropes. I run about six miles and then tonight I’ll probably do another hour of cardio and 30 minutes of battle ropes. I’m just learning now to give myself a day off. I have an addictive personality, and I tend to overdo things and go overboard. The goal is to play a two-hour show and have my body react and do whatever my mind wants it to do.
YOUR FAVORITE YUNGBLUD STORY.
Somebody sent me this interview—I can’t do his accent. I suck at his accent—[where] him and Halsey were in the studio, and they called me, and he’s like, “You mean you’re just going to fooking call Travis Barker?” [Laughs.] “How do you have his number? You’re just going to call him at 11 at night, and he’s just going to play on this song?” He’s so funny, man. He’s a real rock star. He is it. I really love his music, and I really love him as a person. He’s going to do big things.
ENEMA OF THE STATE TURNING 20 LAST YEAR.
So weird. I cannot believe it’s been that much time. I love that album: It was my introduction to writing in blink and being a true part of the band and being able to have input. “Have you thought about writing a song like this?” “I have these crazy rhythms.” “What about this for a verse or a bridge?” Everybody was so into it. It was a magical time. Albums were recorded so different back then. We did all the drums on the album in a couple of hours in one day. And then Mark [Hoppus] and Tom [DeLonge] did the guitars and bass for the next month and then the vocals. That was back in the day when you went into the rehearsal room, figured out the entire song, the entire album and then go in and record it. I still try to keep a piece of that with us.
WHAT YOU LISTEN TO ON A SUNDAY MORNING.
Most likely whatever I am producing at the time. Right now, I’m driving around listening to $uicideBoy$ mixes for our [LIVE FAST DIE WHENEVER] EP. I’ve found that I can be in the studio laser-focused on the mix, but when I’m driving or out running, I just listen differently; it’s more accurate. I’ve heard there’s a studio—I’m not sure what city it’s in—where they have a car in one of the other rooms. It’s there for the sole purpose of sitting in it and listening to music.
THE DRUMMER WHO WILL BE BETTER THAN YOU 10 YEARS FROM NOW.
I haven’t met him yet. There might be a million of them. You just want to put it all out there because you want to inspire somebody to be better than you. I used to say my son, [Landon], but he’s more obsessed with rap music than he is drumming. There are so many talented drummers right now. I’ve been looking at gospel drummers. It’s a new style. It’s different and unorthodox. All these weird phrases. Basically anything goes. Just make sure you come in on the one. [Laughs.] I jump from genre to genre; it keeps me sane. I can listen to John Coltrane, Vein and maybe X all in the same day. I’d get bored if I had to listen to the same style of music all the time.
HOW YOU FEEL AT THE END OF THE FIRST DAY OF MUSINK.
Amazing. But then there’s two days left. The first day goes quick. The jitters go away after the first day, and everything went smoothly. I always worry about our car area because we have cars over there that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. That worries me. And making sure fans are safe. There’s always some giant wall of death or mosh pit. One year Gorilla Biscuits played, and they requested no barricade. It was probably the most insane day of Musink ever. If [GB singer] Civ requests that, you do what you’re told. [Laughs.] I was raised on them, and it was so cool to have them play.
CAN JASON AALON BUTLER TAKE ZACK DE LA ROCHA IN A FIGHT?
Yes. Even though I love Zack. But in a physical fight, yes. Jason is a beast. There’s been times when Jason will say, “Hey Trav, a security guy just pile-drived my friend. Let’s go find him.” Sure enough, Jason and I are outside looking for a security guard. He has no chill, but it’s always for a great cause. Anytime that’s happened, it’s because someone hurt a fan or was out of line. He’s a great dude with a good head on his shoulders.
YOUR FAVORITE SIMPLE CREATURES SONG.
I only know one. Mark [Hoppus] hit me up when he was doing the project. “Dude, would you consider doing a remix?” and I said, “Fuck, yeah. Whatever you need from me, I got you.” I gave him a remix of “Drugs.” It’s really, really good. I told him, “Don’t be mad at me if it’s better than the original.” That’s what remixes are supposed to do. That’s one thing I’ve figured out: the science of how to make a really kickass remix. The goal is to have people hear it and say, “The song should’ve sounded like this from the get-go.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU LEAVE CALIFORNIA.
[Long pause.] I don’t know anything that would make me leave here. I wouldn’t pick any other place to live. Maybe if someone said, “Hey, we have a spot in wherever for a year, and you can get away,” maybe I’d try that. But I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I want to retire where I was once trash, which is Laguna Beach at a time where I had no money, and I was [crashing] on somebody’s couch when I was living with many other people in a studio apartment. It was probably the happiest time of my life, ever.
WHAT YOU WOULD BE DOING IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE.
If I wasn’t doing this? I could be doing a lot of things because I’d be an alien, right? That’s a hard question. I’m gonna stick with maybe I’ll be an alien, and Tom DeLonge is savagely trying to find me. [Laughs.]