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xmag.com : August 2001: Blink 182



Although he might seem like the quiet guy in the group, Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker talks like he plays—with boundless frenetic energy. Ask him about a press photo and he'll smirk, "I'm the one that looks like he just got out of jail." Mention a drummer's name, a style of music, his love of skateboarding, or Blink 182's latest album Take Your Pants Off And Jacket, and the enthusiasm hits you like a slurpee brainfreeze. And if you dare to mention the band's old "Josie" video, which features Alyssa Milano dressed as a high school cheerleader, look out.

"I wasn't in the band when they did that video, if I was

I would have been...really bad," Barker gasps. "No man, she is a Goddess. I remember when she was in Details magazine. We all bought our own copies just so we could look at it on the airplane. I wish I could say, 'Yeah she was super into us and blah blah blah, and did the video,' but that wasn't the case. I think Mark [Hoppus, bass/vocals] and Tom [Delonge, guitar/vocals] contacted her and paid her a lot of money! [Laughs] I think that's basically how it worked."

After a moment of silent pondering the 25 year-old drummer sighs, "It was a small price to pay."

No shit. Although he missed that video shoot, he has plenty of reasons to be stoked following the year the year Blink had in 2000. All the awards (Billboard, Blockbuster Music, MTV, etc.), the sold-out shows, the multi-platinum Enema Of The State (with porn temptress Janine donning a nurse's outfit with blue latex gloves on the cover) dominating MTV—not bad for a funny little punk band from San Diego. Take Your Pants Off And Jacket, continues in the same melodic-punk vein, as does their current video for "The Rock Show." If you've seen their older vids, like, "All The Small Things," "Man Overboard," or "What's My Age Again," you know these guys have a sense of fractured humor. Swearing, streaking, and stupid-silly, they even have a short song paying homage to George Carlin's famous "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" routine. And they’re skating into Portland’s Memorial Coliseum on August 15th with New Found Glory. Exotic caught up with Barker just long enough to talk about ditching the skateboard injuries for drums.

Exotic: How did you get the gig with Blink?

Barker: I was in the band Hooker for a while. I was also playing with the Aquabats, and then I quit to join a band called Suicide Machine in Detroit. Then in 1998 I filled in for Blink for a couple days, Santa Cruz and San Francisco I had to learn all their songs in like an hour's time. Really, it was hours before this gig, "Hey, can you fill in?" I said, "Sure." They called me about a month later. They told me they were like super stoked on me, and they asked me to join their band.

Exotic: What can you tell me about the other guys, Tom and Mark?

Barker: They're both from San Diego. They were in other garage bands, but mainly Blink is the only band they were ever in that they stayed strong with. They're just two total punk rock guys. They've never played any other style. They never listen to metal, anything— it's really weird. I would tell them, "Oh man, this old Metallica album rules!" And they'd be like, "What are you talking about? You listen to Metallica?" And I'd say, "You have no idea how much talent came out of all those metal bands." Especially the drummers.

Exotic: Who writes the songs?

Barker: We all write the music, and then Mark and Tom write the lyrics. We wrote the album in two and a half weeks, and then immediately went in and recorded. Like 16 songs in two and a half days. Then the guitar and bass took two months, it was really bad. [Laughs] The drums came down really fast, eighteen drum tracks in two days. I was stoked.

Exotic: Do you play instruments other than drums?

Barker: In junior high, I sang in madrigals—men's and women's choir. I played piano too, but then I got out of it. All I wanted to do was ride skateboards—I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. But I had this problem... I kept breaking half of my body skateboarding.

Exotic: Your mother probably wasn't too thrilled with that.

Barker: My mom passed away a day before high school started, and her dream was for me to be a full rock and roll guy, and play drums in a band. I was already playing drums, they (parents) started me when I was ten. I was taking lessons from this jazz guy named Ed Will for a couple of years, but I just wasn't into it. I wanted to be a skateboarder. So, she passed away a day before school started, and I was just like, "You know, I'm over skateboarding. I'm going to play the drums."

I was breaking every part of my body...broke my ankle three times. And then I figured, "This isn't worth it. I'm way better at playing the drums than I am at skateboarding." Then I tried out for the Fontana High School drum line, in Riverside, and I did really well. I got second chair, and played snare in that drum line for three years. And I played in jazz band as well during all three years in school.

Exotic: Your mother wanted you to be a rock star?

"You have no idea how much talent came out of all those metal bands. Especially the drummers."

Barker: Yeah, that's all she wanted me to do. Like at Christmas time, when The Little Drummer Boy would come on, she would say, "That's it, I want you to play the drums."

Exotic: You're getting a lot of ink as being a great "punk" drummer, but you're not just bashing away—there's a lot of intricate stuff going on.

Barker: I can play punk rock, and I love playing punk rock, but I was into every other style of music before I played punk.

Exotic: Who were your early drumming influences?

Barker: I liked Mikki Dee, who plays with King Diamond. He was with Dokken and Motorhead, too. God, he's an amazing drummer... I've always liked Dennis Chambers, he's real flashy. God, who else do I like? I like Steve Gadd, everything he did with Steely Dan. There's so many. I like everything. Stewart Copeland of The Police. Mike Bordin was with Faith No More, and he's with Ozzy now. Fish [formerly with Fishbone]—I love him so much.

Exotic: Who do you like in the punk community? I know you played with The Vandals once, and Josh Freese and Brooks Wackerman played with them.

Barker: Oh God, anything that Josh Freese does—the Vandals and Suicidal Tendencies. He's amazing. Brooks Wackerman rules too. Josh Freese's shoes are hard ones to fill, but Brooks is incredible. The Vandals tour was a long while ago, just a three week tour. All those guys in the band rule, but just to fill in where Brooks and Josh had been, it was an honor, you know? I was honored to even go there.

Exotic: Who else?

Barker: Bill Stevenson of The Descendants is really good, too. A lot of people think that punk rock musicians don't know what they're doing. But there's actually a lot of punk bands out there that go out of the norm, use odd time signatures, or a lot of different tempo changes in a song. Who else? Steven Perkins, who was with Jane's Addiction. That guy rules. Every time I see him I'm just going, "Oh my God," you know? He played a show with Mike Watt, opening for us up in Lake Tahoe, and I didn't get to see him. We didn't get up there in time...I was so mad. But that album they did, Banyan, is amazing.

All in all, Blink 182 may not be rocket science, but at least you know there’s someone keeping the beat who knows eactly what he’s doing. Barker may be overqualified for the three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-silliness songs, but hey, drummers need to grow up to be famous, too. Just like mom wanted.

 

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