He’s a producer. He’s a remixer. He’s a clothing designer (Famous Stars And Straps). But above all else, he's a drummer.
Travis Barker juggles all these things by adhering to a vigorous work ethic and maintaining a razor-sharp focus on whatever his current project is. Rhythm had the chance to visit the creative oasis of his North Hollywood studio for a one-on-one interview with the hardest working drummer in the industry. We found that regardless of who he’s playing with, or what track he’s remixing, in the centre of it all, he’s a drummer.
Travis on… his marching band background
“I love that stuff! It still comes out in my playing. When I’m on tour and I don’t have a lot to do except be around my drums, I sit on a practice pad and I’ll play for two hours before we go on.
"I have to stop myself [playing traditional grip], ’cos I’ll warm up like that, traditional, and I’ll be like, ‘That’s not even how you’re going to be playing.’ I don’t even think there is a correct way to warm up for the way I play!”
Travis on… his approach to playing hip-hop
“I do whatever they’re doing. I have to hop to different situations all the time and I’ll do whatever, you know? A lot of times I’m playing to a backing track. When we did the Grammys, it was a backing track. They would switch tempos and stuff, but you just felt the tempo change and it was easy. I love a click.
"With Blink, we’re always to a click. I love, love playing to a click. For the Mary J thing we just did [performing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ on American Idol with Mary J Blige, Steve Vai, Orianthi and Randy Jackson], it was no click and it was completely live, so it always changes.”
Travis on… nailing the click
“I don’t even hear the click. That is my goal. I feel comfortable with it. The click was like a demon when you were a kid. When you’re a kid you’re like, ‘Aww, man, I don’t wanna play to a click.’ It was hard and it was tough at times. Now, you get to the point where you feel more comfortable with it, you know?”
Travis on… improving
“I get to a place on tour where I can do it and then when I’m home I’m more in a creative environment and it’s more making music instead of playing music or practising.
"So, when I’m on tour, I like to be in the mind frame where anything I think of in my head while I’m playing I can pull off. I’m not like, ‘Oh s**t, I’m going to try this for the first time tonight and I don’t know how it’s going to work out.’ I change my fills every night. I improvise. But I’m not going to confuse [Blink-182 bandmates] Mark or Tom or throw anyone off. I just try to get to a place where I can pull off whatever idea I have in my head. I think that’s the win-win. That’s the ultimate goal, to be able to pull off what you want to play without really thinking about it.”
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Rhythm Presents 100 Drum Heroes includes exclusive interviews and photos from Rhythm’s29 years as the UK’s biggest drum mag! Drum heroes discuss their music, playing techniques, gear and career highlights. At 200 pages-plus, it's an essential read for fans of drumming and drummers across all genres of music.
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