Travis Barker remains a man of many bands and many talents
By Paul Rogers
Tell us about growing up in the Inland Empire.
It was cool. I had a lot of good times in Riverside and at [UC Riverside live music venue] The Barn and all the shows I went to there. And even Fontana—going to Upland Pipeline as a kid, going to the skate park there. I kind of bounced around everywhere there: I was [living] in Corona, Riverside.
Your music and personal style seem to fuse elements of punk, skateboard and hip-hop culture. Were these the influences you were surrounded with while growing up in SoCal?
Absolutely. I skateboarded my whole life; I always loved skateboarding. I always loved music in general. I listened to everything, as much as I could. I listened to rock music; a lot of metal when I was a kid. A lot of punk rock, hip-hop, jazz—I mean everything.
You’ve invested in the Inland Empire too, with your Famous Stars and Straps clothing line in Ontario and Wahoo’s Fish Taco restaurants in Norco and Rancho Cucamonga. Why these particular businesses in these locations?
Wahoo’s is just delicious! After I moved out of Fontana and the Inland Empire,I stayed on my friend’s couch out in Laguna Beach for a while and he turned me on to Wahoo’s. At the time it would be a big deal if we had money and we were going to eat at Wahoo’s—that was like a big event for me! I used to tell them, if I ever have money I would open up a bunch of these—and they used to laugh at me!
When I started [Famous Stars and Straps] a long time ago, most of the people that were working there for the last 10 years have been [living in the Inland Empire]. So even when I got up and moved to L.A. for work and for my family, I couldn’t ask everyone to come over where I am, so I’ve always kept things over there and it just feels like home.
The release of your debut solo album, Give the Drummer Some, is imminent. When can we expect it and how might it surprise us?
It’s coming out in February, and I’m going to come out with a single every month, and a video and artwork, once a month up until the time it comes out. I have so many great guests on it and it’s all different. I’m not just doing one genre of music for one type of person—there’s something in there for everybody.
The album’s apparently packed with guest performers like RZA, Ludacris, Lil Wayne and Tom Morello. Why is it important to you to collaborate like this?
I was doing a lot of remixes and, at first, it was going to be just a remix album. And then it turned into me making a couple of original songs and getting different friends of mine and artists on it, and it just blossomed into a group of songs that would be featured on it—and now there’s no remixes. I basically used a lot of people I’d done remixes with and/or played with in the last 10 years.
You’ve worked with Paul Wall, both as Expensive Taste and on his new album, Heart of a Champion. What intrigues you about that collaboration?
Oh man, I love Paul. I think he’s a great rapper; his cadence and the way his voice sits on beats . . . When I went on tour he just went through a lot of tracks that I had lying around and songs that I was working on. He would just hit me every couple of weeks and be like, “I jumped on this and I’ll send it to you.” I watched him put his album together like that.
You’ve recently remixed tracks for everyone from Soulja Boy to Snoop Dogg. Are you the next big hip-hop producer or is this just another sideline?
Nothing’s a side project. I love all of ’em the same—everything. I love producing; I love making music; I love doing remixes.
And of course a new Blink-182 album is also in the works. What’s the latest on that?
We were just [touring] in Europe for seven weeks and we started some things. We got in a studio into a lot of the dressing rooms and I’d throw up some drum ideas and then we’d all collaborate … We’re just going to be locked in the studio.
How has your contribution to the songwriting changed this time around?
Everything everybody did from the time Blink went on hiatus until now is going to inspire and be a part of the future of what we sound like. And I think it’ll always sound like Blink though. If you put Mark and Tom and I together you definitely know it’s a Blink song, no matter what it sounds like.
The band has nothing to prove commercially, so what would you like to achieve with this new record artistically?
I guess just pick up where we left off. I thought we were in a really good place with the last album that we put out [2003’s Blink-182]. It was no-holds-barred, like we were doing our first record all over again. It was like, whoa, slow down, let’s just make whatever we want to make and not worry about what people expect from us or what we expect from ourselves. Let’s just put down ideas and no idea’s a bad idea and no idea’s a stupid idea . . . And, man, it was like opening doors, musically.
You’re involved in so many things, musical and otherwise—do you thrive on this diversity?
There was a weekend [last year] where one night I played with A-Trak at EDC [Electric Daisy Carnival]; the next night I played the BET Awards with T.I., and then a few days later I’m playing an E3 event with Eminem . . . I even had a moment where I was like, “I’m so blessed!” It’s so cool to do all this stuff and to mix it up.
And as a lifelong California resident, what’s your take on the state’s decriminalization of medical marijuana?
I don’t think they should trip on it. I think it’s safer. I think alcohol’s a more dangerous substance that they should worry about. Like, fools drink and they act like assholes. I mean, my friends that smoke weed, they’re pretty mellow and pretty chill and they’re not going around acting crazy or on testosterone, you know what I mean?
Would you support legalizing cannabis for recreational use and why?
Yes. For the same reason. I think that it’s less dangerous for anybody. If a substance like alcohol is available until 2 a.m. every day, weed should be available too. If I was going to do one or the other, I would smoke before I’d drink.
CLOTHES DO MAKE THE MAN
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, then you don’t know that in 1999 Travis Barker started Famous Stars and Straps, a clothing and accessory line influenced by the Blink drummer’s various loves (skateboarding, punk rock, hip-hop, etc.). So why did Barker decide to give the sticks a rest (temporarily) to explore this business venture? “All of them are sort of expressing yourself,” Barker tells CULTURE. “Writing a song is like designing a T-shirt or creating something or coming up with an idea, a concept. It’s all being creative. And I think [the more] you can ‘speak’ through different outlets like that, the better.”