Punk-rock four-piece Femegades have returned with their latest single, What Is Yours Is Mine, that is now available via Spotify and as a…
Blink 182 - Travis Barker
- Dec. 10th 2003
I had the great honor of talking to Travis Barker of Blink182 over the phone for half an hour. It was a day I won’t soon forget. I would like to thank Travis once again for taking the time to do it and Colleen for setting it all up. Please read and enjoy.
Bobby: All right, starting with the basics can you please state your name and what you do in Blink182?
Travis: My name is Travis Landon Barker and I play the drums.
Bobby: You recently ended the “DollaBill” tour, how was it?
Travis: Amazing. My whole idea behind the “DollaBill” tour was to, well you know when you go to a museum or you go to a place where art is, you see different styles of art. You don’t see the same artist over and over again or you don’t see a bunch of people who look like Picasso. You know what I mean?
Travis: Or you don’t see a bunch of Andy Warhol stuff and then imitators. You see such a broad spectrum of paintings and styles and that’s what touring should be. That’s how I think. I think you should be able to go to a show and you should learn. Like you should see the coolest indie rock, like punk rock band like The Kinision and then see like the coolest white rapper in the world, like Bubba Sparxxx and then Blink182. You know what I mean? And it’s for a dollar. I think it’s just opening kid’s ears and eyes to other styles.
Bobby: Why did you decide to do that type of tour, where it’s only one dollar?
Travis: Well at first it was supposed to be free. My idea was to do a free tour and we’d hand out wristbands or something so there wouldn’t be problems with who comes and who doesn’t come. We’d give them out through the radio or through our site. But then our booking agent came to us and said that it had to cost something so that we could keep track on who has tickets and liabilities. So we ended up making it cost a dollar and then we paid for the rest of the tour ourselves. It was just kind of like, this record is kind of like a rebirth of Blink and we feel like a band again and we wanted to go back to playing small venues again and we wanted to do something cool so our fans would come watch us play.
Bobby: You recently appeared on the MTV show, “Punk’d”.
Bobby: What was going through your mind as it was all happening?
Bobby: Well like during it and after.
Travis: During it, I just kept going like, my girl, my girlfriend is so like usually, like she never, I don’t know, we never ever… There’s never ever another guy. So it was way out, it was way out all the shit she was saying. She kept laughing, you know? You don’t see this in “Punk’d” because they edit it. And I’m drunk basically. And the lighting is really, really lit up and there’s weird people that look like actors in the restaurant with me. You know what I mean?
Travis: So I’m kind of putting two and two together but then I was just like contemplating, “Should I hit this mother fucker?” or should I just be the bigger man and let this go? Like what should I do? So by the very end my exact words to him were like: “Man, you know what, you can have my old lady. But, you know, I still think you’re a homo and I still thing you’re, you know, you’re a dork.” You know, blah blah blah. And he’s like “man, you’re crazy, I can’t believe the things you say.” And then I invited him outside and he wouldn’t go outside with me. So Ashton Kutcher came up and I almost hit Ashton Kutcher, but they won’t show that on MTV either. And then afterwards it was funny, I was just laughing. But for me, personally, when someone fucks with me, it’s hard for me to ever think that it’s a joke. You know what I mean?
Travis: So afterwards, I still wanted to fucking lay into this guy, I was like dying. But it was just a joke, it was just so funny. That was my birthday and as it happened, my girlfriend planned this elaborate day like we’d go to this rad dinner, and then afterwards, after I got “Punk’d”; we went and she had a huge party for me in Los Angelas with all my friends and there were belly dancers, it was amazing.
I think the show is rad. It’s real, like you get people’s honest reactions. Which I think is rad because with a show like that you can see how people really are. You know what I mean?
Travis: Like I had no idea there’s a fucking camera looking at me, that’s how I’d react if someone did that.
Bobby: That’s awesome. Why did you pick “Feeling This” as your first single?
Travis: “Feeling This” was the first song we recorded on this record. “Feeling This” was like the first. I came back from The Transplants tour and I said to Mark and Tom: “Let’s pretend that this is our very first record. Forget what anyone expects from us . Forget what anyone thinks about us. Fuck everything. Make this record and don’t second guess yourself. Have no concerns but to make yourself happy.” And that’s what we did and that was like the first song we wrote and that was the perfect example. It gave everyone a perfect idea as to what this record’s about.
Bobby: What was the motivation behind the video?
Travis: The video is basically is a big play on the wall. Like controlling, you know? And it’s basically, you’re in high school, your teacher’s acting like a fucking Nazi idiot. He takes himself way too seriously. You’re about like 15 or 16, you’re almost an adult and all you can think to yourself is “I don’t need this shit.” You’re thinking about what you’re going to do when you get out of high school. Like “I’m going to go do this.” All I was thinking about was “Fucking let me get out of here, I wanna go tour.” People were talking to me about college. I don’t know about college, I don’t have enough money to go to college. My family doesn’t have enough money to send me to college, so you end up rebelling. And that’s what the video is about. You’re just kind of like screw everything. Your teacher acts like you’re in the military. Kids go out of control. They’re having sex with each other, there was originally sex in the video, but MTV has standards and no one will ever see that. And at the end we’re playing and people are going crazy and climbing the chain link fence. It was just supposed to be basically how every kid, like what he dreams off while going to school.
Bobby: Why did you change the name from “Action” to “Feeling This”?
Travis: “Action” just sounded kind of dorky to us. Like we would always call it “Feeling This” and then someone at our label, I think, like wrote it as “Action” one time and sent out singles to people. And it was always supposed to be “Feeling This”.
Bobby: O, okay. What will be your next single and why?
Travis: Our next single is going to be “Miss You”. That’s just like one of our favorite songs on the record. And we are filming the video for it in the next two weeks.
Bobby: Do you have any idea for a video?
Travis: Ya, ya, ya actually. My idea is going to be, basically it’s going to look like you almost stepped into, or turn the channel and you’re watching a movie from like the ’30s. And it will be, hopefully it will be black and white with brown tinge and kind of grainy. And it will be basically us playing in a cigar bar, or like a small, little, cool lounge area. And we’re just going to show people dancing and drinking, like old people, well not old people but like people from that era like that genre. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Disney Land and seen the Haunted House, but there’s ghost dancing in there. And that’s one scene. Everyone is going to look almost like ghosts including like Mark, Tom and I. It’s going to be really cool. Everything from like the cars to the couples that are coming into the place that we’re playing; everything. I think this going to be like the first video where us, as a band, me, Mark and Tom, take a step back and we’re not the big form of the video. You know, we’re almost in the background; we’re almost background music for what’s going on in this like short trailer.
Bobby: Sweet, that sounds really good. “Use Your Erection 1 & 2” was one rumored title for the new album, was there ever any truth in that?
Travis: For “Use Your Erection 1 & 2”?
Travis: You know, I was at a Transplant show; we were playing Weenie Roast and MTV kept asking me “what’s the name of the new record?!?”. So I’m just fucking with people, just trying to get a rise out of people, you know? Just so people would talk about the new record, that’s all. I mean we laughed, we thought it would be so funny. ‘Cause I remember at the time Axl Rose was getting pissed because The Offspring said something about the spaghetti incident or something. Like it was mainly a play on people taking themselves too seriously.
Bobby: Why did you decide to make it untitled?
Travis: It’s kind of like if you have a painting that you’ve painted and you just can’t think of a name for it. That’s how we felt about our record. We felt like we couldn’t think of a name to justified what just happened on that record. You know?
Bobby: Yes. The new album is very different from Blink’s previous work. Why do you think that is?
Travis: Our previous records, like Enema Of The State/Take Off Your Pants And Jacket, where recorded in like… Here’s what would happen. We would take some time off, like a couple months. We’d get together to do the record. We’d write the whole thing in two weeks and then we would record my drums in a day and we would record guitars, bass and vocals over the next month. This record, we recorded over a year’s time. We wrote a song and then recorded it, took as much time as we wanted. We were all listening to great music. Up until last year, Tom didn’t listen to anything but punk rock. He didn’t know Punk Floyd. He didn’t know who the fucking Who was! The Who’s one of the greatest punk rock bands of all time. It was a bunch of things lining up at the right time, in the right place. Mark and Tom listening to the same music I was; just spending so much time on the record. Number one, wanting to spend that much time on a record. We’ve never wanted to spend that much time on a record in our whole lives. But it was just like we felt like a band again, man! When you go in and you do things and you don’t care what people expect from you or what you’ve done in the past; I think you do great things. I think so many people live their lives, whether at work or in their relationships, doing what either their partner, their girlfriend or their employees expect from them instead of what they really want to do or how they feel at that time. You know?
Bobby: Yep, very true. How would you describe the change?
Travis: I think I just did. *Laughs*.
Bobby: I guess you did. The recording style for the new album was certainly different. Like you just said, it took almost a year. First you rented the house, then you flew to Fiji and then finally into a studio. Why did you do all of that?
Travis: We got kicked out of the house. We had no choice. I was on The Transplants tour, what I did was I recorded like seven songs on drums. And then they were supposed to get everything else done while I was gone and they didn’t. So time was running out. We did switch to a studio in San Diego but it sucked. And then we went to Conway in LA. One of the best fucking studios ever. It just has good energy. I think the second half of the record being written in LA was key, you know what I mean. San Diego, there’s not much going on. It’s very beautiful and rich and everything I don’t want to see when I’m writing a record, not a punk rock record or any kind of record I’d like. Being in Los Angelas, the heart of fucking street bombs to drug dealers to pimps to fucking gang bangers, that gives you inspiration. Like me sitting in fucking San Diego seeing rich people drive their nice cars and go to their nice houses doesn’t do shit for me.
Bobby: What is your favorite song on the album and why?
Travis: I can’t pick a favorite. I’m biased, you know what I mean? I don’t know if I told you, but as I said before, this record is an album. It’s not like some of the shit you see on the radio or on TV today, where you go buy the record and that’s the only song you like. Like this is an album which you listen to in it’s entirety. And I can’t really pick a favorite because there’s no two songs on it that are the same. You know?
Bobby: All right, now all three of you are parents, you the most recently. How do you think that has impacted Blink182? Musically and touring wise?
Travis: Musically, having kids has not affected our music at all or our musicianship in the way we go about things. All having a kid does, it changes your life, it changes your life drastically; but not as a musician. I’ve always been kind of a knuckle head kind of like, “who gives a fuck” kind of kid my whole life. And after having a kid, I think about every move I make. You know what I mean? Everything I do, I think about him before I think about myself. I think it changes your life in that kind of way.
Bobby: How do you think it will affect you touring wise?
Travis: Touring wise, sometimes my son might come out on tour with me or my girl, you know my girlfriend’s daughter; but it just depends. If my girlfriend’s not working or acting then obviously ya, I want her to come out with me and I want my son to be there. You know? If she’s not then no big deal. I’ll have a nanny and maybe Landon will come out a couple weeks at a time. You know what I mean?
Bobby: Ya. Okay, you are extremely active. In two bands, used to be in three. You run your own clothing company and even have a shoe made by DC Shoe Company. How do you keep up with it all?
Travis: I mean, I thrive of being busy, that’s my thing. Any spare time, you know what I mean? Now, I spend most of my time that I have that’s free, with my son. I have my record label I’m launching. The Kinision record, it comes out in March. I have my clothing company. I design usually at night or once a week I’ll get together with the rest of the designers there. And I have good people who run that for me. Designing shoes in painless for me. It’s the best thing in the world, it’s awesome. Another way of expressing myself. Then the bands I play in, I love. You know what I mean? I love and I never think of it as work, I always think of it as playing. You know what I mean? In my free time I box, like I love boxing; you know what I mean? I just like to stay busy, I like to be constantly learning something or improving; it makes me feel better.
Bobby: Does it ever get overwhelming?
Travis: Ya, I mean there’s times. I’ll be laying in bed at it’ll be 12 midnight and I get home and my girlfriend’s just like “I wish I could have you to myself. I just wish you didn’t have so much shit going on”. But it’s like, I make up for it. We’ll go away for a couple days or, you know what I mean? Sometimes I’m a whore. Sometimes I don’t want to think about the next shoe I’m working on or the next line for Famous Starts & Straps. Sometimes it’s a pain but it really, like just makes you stronger. It challenges you to be more creative. You know what I mean?
Bobby: Yep. Okay, you have been in two side projects. Tom was in Box Car Racer. Why do you think Mark hasn’t done a side-project yet?
Travis: I think he just doesn’t have it in him. Mark loves playing in Blink but Mark is probably the most like… You know when you see those dads on TV or some setup television show? He just loves staying home with his girlfriend, well his wife, and his baby and he likes to cook. You know what I mean? He’s just a different human being as far as decorative stuff. He likes his spare time. He likes his downtime. Where as I go crazy with downtime, I’ll fucking murder somebody, you know what I mean?
Bobby: Yep. How does it feel to go on the Internet and read all these rumors about your life. Like is it ever weird to be reading up about yourself?
Travis: I mean ya, that’s weird. I never do that. I mean, I never go on the Internet and look at that shit. I remember years ago there were things saying I overdosed. Or so and so is doing this or Travis is doing that with this girl. It’s crazy, you know what I mean?
Travis: But it comes with the territory. So I just don’t take that shit really that seriously. What it comes down to me, at the end of the day is, I’m a muse. I love playing and writing music. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what makes me feel alive. All that other shit, like the business side of stuff or if people think I’m cute or people like the way I play drums, that’s all like whatever man. I really, genuinely, I do everything for me. If everyone likes it, that’s cool. I love our fans but I never do something so people think I’m cool or I’ll be famous or any shit like that.
Bobby: Does it ever get annoying losing all your privacy?
Travis: Ya, there’s times. There’s times you want to go out to dinner…I don’t mind people coming up to me at dinner or when I’m out with my girlfriend; I talk to everybody. The only problem I have is when you’ve got that fucking idiot. Last night I went to dinner and I come out of the restaurant and there’s some dick head who’s from Celebrity Uncensored with a camera, a video camera in my face. That’s invading someone’s privacy, that’s gay, like you don’t do that shit. That’s disrespectful. If someone came up to me and goes, “Can I take a picture?” or something like that, of course. Like I’ll take a picture with you under any circumstance. That’s the only stuff I don’t like is when people shove a video camera in your face and invade your privacy, or come to your house or shit like that.
Bobby: Is it weird to see kids looking up to you and even sometimes idolizing you?
Travis: Ya, I mean totally. When I see kids that like to dress like me or… I was confused growing up. I loved Run DMC as much as I loved fucking The Descendants as much as I loved Slayer, you know what I mean? And you could tell. I’m probably the only white kid with silver teeth and a fucking sidewards hat and a Misfits shirt on. But that’s just how I grew up. So when kids imitate it, it’s funny to me. But hey man, if you genuinely love the shit that I love, then I’m all for it. If you genuinely love hip-hop as much as you love pop-rock and you love Cadillacs and you love the music I love. Or whatever, then fucking kudos to you. I think that’s rad as long as everyone is doing it because they genuinely feel like that or they like to look like that. Whatever, I think that’s cool. It’s weird to this day though. Like growing up, my goals were never to be someone’s idol. I never thought I was capable of it. I came from a lower class family. My only goal was to be able to play music and somehow survive.
Bobby: Blink182 have been through many bumps since Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. You almost broke up after Tom’s back injury and with Box Car Racer. How did you battle through all those troubles?
Travis: We were never ever going to break up. There were rumors, people started rumors when me and Tom did Box Car but people have got to understand that Box Car was an experiment. Like we were never supposed to even tour. What happens is “The Monster” started happening, which was MCA, which we’re not on anymore. But we wanted to put out a record, that’s all. Like let us put out a fucking record and let people hear this music. But of course, the record label, a major record label like MCA with a dick head for a president, Jay Bovark thinks: “They have to tour this record because we have to make money.” And all this bull shit. No, it was just supposed to be a record and they fucked up and had to do other stuff. But thank God for our new label. Like that’s one thing I have to say about Geffen: Geffen is the coolest record label I’ve ever dealt with in my whole life. Man, those people gave us no deadline with our new record, let us do our own artwork, let us pick who we want to do our videos, pick our singles; like that’s the way it should be. They never talked to us about money, politics, all that bull shit that we don’t want to hear about anyway. We just want to be creative, you know what I mean? You never want to walk into a record label meeting and talk about your record and have someone tell you how much records you need to sell in order for them to be happy. Where as that’s what Jay Bovark at MCA would do. I used to walk out of meetings, like in the middle of a meeting I would just walk out because I couldn’t stand hearing bull shit from somebody like that. You know what I mean?
Bobby: Ya, ya. Okay, nowadays you can find MP3s all over the Internet. Kazaa, Morpheus, things like that. How do you feel about that? Is it good? Is it bad?
Travis: I think it’s great. I think as long as… Like people ask me “Will you be bummed if people download your record or stream your record?” No, I’m not bummed at all. As long as you have a rad product, as long as you have something rad for them to download and stream it, those people will still maybe want to go buy your record. You know what I mean? As long as you’re confident. Ya, I’d be afraid if we made a shitty record and it got on the Internet. I’d be scared to death because everyone will know it sucks and no one will go buy it. I think it’s so beneficial, especially for small bands.
Bobby: I recently read an article in Alternative Press magazine about Rancid, and one of the main themes was “Through Music, You Can Live Forever”. What do you think about that quote?
Travis: “Through Music, You Can Live Forever”? You heard that through a Rancid article?
Bobby: Yep, Tim Armstrong.
Travis: O, totally. I mean, God bless Tim’s soul for what his wife did. It was fucked up. And Tim’s sober too. A long time ago wasn’t sober and he’s been sober for about ten years. I mean if he didn’t have music, he could’ve fallen off. Anything could’ve happened. But I think music is healing. I think that Rancid record was healing, it was therapy for Tim. You know what I mean? I think when you listen to that record you can tell how sincere everything that man says, where as you hear record after record where I don’t believe a fucking word these people are saying. You know what I mean? You hear those bands and Rancid and Tim Armstrong and Lars and everyone; those were real people. Those are real mother fuckers. Everything they write is gonna be what they’ve gone through and they’re fucking sincere and if people question them, they’re crazy.
Bobby: You are well known for your Cadillac collection. Why do you collect them?
Travis: It started off, I wanted one because I knew my dad had one when he was young. I never had the money for it. I bought my first Cad for 600 dollars. And I just kind of like fell into it. I just loved everything about Cadillacs. I love the logos, I don’t know. There’s something to be said when you see a Cadillac going down the street. Like a ’66 is beautiful, or you see a ’78 El Dorado and it’s convertible. I don’t know, just the feeling you get when you drive it. Or a ’84, like a Low-Rider. I don’t know man, it’s just something. You know how some people are into Volkswagens and they go buy those buses and bugs and shit, like that’s how Cadillacs are for me. I’m just a freak. I love their cars.
Bobby: What is your dream car?
Travis: Right now I either want a ’78 El Dorado, like convertible. They’re hella ugly, but I love it. Like I just sold Rob,from Transplants, my hardtop that I got married in. I didn’t really want it anymore because I got married in it. Or a ’84 Coup, all load out like a traditional low-rider. With wire-wheels.
Bobby: You used to be the drummer for The Aquabats. They are very different from Blink182. Do you have many fond memories from that crazy “super hero” band?
Travis: Ya man. To me, that was my first. I mean, I was sleeping on my friend’s couch, playing in his band and I was a trash man. And I was just going to fill in for The Aquabats for a couple days and I ended up joining the band. And that was the first band I ever got to tour with really. That was the first band I ever got to make real records with. It was cool man, like it was so different. It was so cool, I learnt so much. If I wasn’t in Aquabats, I couldn’t be in Blink182 right now. I would’ve never hooked up with Mark and Tom and I would’ve never like filled in for them. I love The Aquabats. I love… Everything that I’ve done is where I came from, so I love it.
Bobby: Do you still listen to them?
Travis: I haven’t heard any of the new records. I think I heard the record after I left. But unfortunately, when I left, Christen, the singer was really bummed. Like hella bummed, and he was upset with me because I was leaving. But I never had hard feelings for those guys. I’d always wish them the best and everything. I would do anything for those guys to this day.You know what I mean?
Bobby: Yep, yep. Okay, on the record, what does the smiley face mean? Like who came up with the idea?
Travis: Me and my two designers at Famous came up with the idea. We basically just wanted an icon. Like I hated all the last Blink ones. We didn’t really have anything that our band stood for. There was never a symbol, you know what I mean? Like with Famous I made up the badge of honor, the “F” that you see everywhere. It’s like with Chevy. You don’t need to see the word “Chevy”, you know the Chevy symbol, it’s branded in your head. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted to brand an icon. It just had to be a cool kind of happy face but I wanted arrows. You know, like the Jams were my favorite band, they always had arrows in their logos and stuff. It was just kind of inspired by pop-art.
Bobby: I guess that’s about it. Do you have any shout-outs before we end?
Travis: I think everyone should go buy the new Rancid record and buy the new Transplants record and the new Blink record when they come out. I wish you a happy holiday. And all the kids who pay a visit to your website.
Bobby: You too, you too. Thanks a lot for doing it.
Travis: All right man, you have a good night.