he might seem like the quiet guy in the group, Blink 182
drummer Travis Barker talks like he playswith 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,
"I wasn't in the band when they did that video, if
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 MTVnot 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 theyre skating into Portlands
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
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 madrigalsmen's
and women's choir. I played piano too, but then I got
out of it. All I wanted to do was ride skateboardsI
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
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
Exotic: Your mother wanted you to be a rock star?
"You have no
idea how much talent came out of all those metal bands.
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
awaythere'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 doesthe
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
All in all, Blink 182 may not be rocket science, but at
least you know theres someone keeping the beat who
knows eactly what hes 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.