- Travis Barker of Blink-182
They were around long before anyone had ever heard of Good Charlotte
or Simple Plan, and now they're back on the scene with a new self-titled
album. Sindy recently had the oppportunity to chat with Blink-182's
drummer, Travis Barker, and got the scoop on their new tunes,
their families and what it really means to be punk. Check it out!
Travis! How do you feel to be back with Blink-182 again?
Travis: It feels amazing. It feels like it's just good timing.
I think if we were to have made a record two years ago, right
after our last one came out, like the record label tried to get
us to do, it would have been so far from what I wanted. I think
we needed some time off after our heavy touring cycle. It's good
and it's fresh to be able to go and play other music with other
musicians and just give yourself space and time to grow, you know?
you ever think you wouldn't come back to play with Blink?
Travis: No. We always knew. Like, when I was doing Transplants,
Mark and Tom were at home with their newborns and they would talk
to me all the time and I would go 'Man, I have all these ideas'
and they would say, 'I can't wait to hear it.' And then I came
to them and we started the record and I said, 'Look, I want to
pretend this is our very first record and forget about anything
we've done in the past or what people are expecting from us and
not second guess ourselves and just make the record we want to
make right now.' And that's what we did. They were both on the
same page as me.
So, what's different with your new album then?
Travis: Everything from the sound, like the sound of the record,
sonically, the guitar tones, drums, vocals, the way things were
recorded. Songs like Feeling This have, like, five different break
beats in it, that you don't hear in a hip-hop song. There's a
cow bell in Feeling This - what rock song on the radio has a cow
bell in it, where it's still cool? It just doesn't exist. Who
can write, by far the most aggressive song, like Easy Target or
Stockholm Syndrome, and then follow it up with, like, Miss You
or a song like All Of This? This is, like, a record. This isn't
some band that put out a record where there's a song on it that
you like, this is an album.
Sindy: Then what genre do you classify yourself as? Are you still
Travis: It's really hard. I don't know how much you've followed
that whole movement or what's punk rock style, but punk rock has
never been like a style of music, even when people thought it
was in the '70s. It's more of an attitude. It's the way you live
your life. There are hip-hop people who are punk rockers. There
are car mechanics that are more punk rock than bands that are
on the TV or radio could ever be. It's definitely like a lifestyle,
Sindy: Yeah. Ok, so what do you think the future holds for Blink-182?
Travis: We're going to continue touring this year, we have a big
tour in America, in Europe, Australia and Japan, in South America.
And then we're going to work on a short film/documentary, kind
of like hints of what everyone saw on our CD enhancement or CD
ROM with our CD. And we're going to keep making videos and keep
making good records until one of us isn't around anymore or whatever.
do you think your music has changed since you guys have had kids
and been through so many life changes?
Travis: Having kids doesn't change your life.
Travis: It doesn't change your life as far as being a musician.
It changes your life, yeah. I mean my life has drastically changed.
I went from maybe not being so careful all the time and kind of
living carelessly to like thinking about every little thing I
do, every move I make. But it hasn't affected us as musicians
or the way we write songs and it never will.
you think your fan base will change at all or has it already changed
since you started?
Travis: The people who come to our shows are our fans from, like,
the very beginning who maybe were getting sick of Blink but they
understand, like 'Whoa, they've really re-vamped and they're fresh.'
I think you can tell when a band is happy to be a band and we're
happy to be a band again - whereas a couple of years ago I think
we were just tired and we just needed everyone to leave us alone.
We almost got forced to - because of politics with our record
label - make another record, like, literally a year after Take
Off Your Pants and Jacket came out. And that would have been the
death of our band.
how did you get out of that?
Travis: Well, in not so many nice words, we told them to get lost.
And there's a new regime and we're on a new label with different
people and presidents of labels who think artistically, instead
of always businesslike. You can't talk to a band about business
or money or time frames or deadlines. We don't want to hear about
that. We want to be creative and when we're done, we'll hand you
our record. We don't want you coming by the studio while we're
making it, you just have to trust us.
advice you would give to kids wanting to get into this?
Travis: I think the biggest advice I would give anyone is play
music cuz you wanna have fun and you genuinely love your instrument.
Don't do it because girls like it or because you think that you're
going to make a lot of money or be a huge rock star. My goal when
I played music was maybe I'll get in a band. This is when I was
like 16, I was out on my own, I had to leave my house and my only
goal was that I had somewhere to sleep and maybe one day I would
have a TV with a remote. And that was my way of thinking. I never,
ever, in a million years, ever counted on selling, like, a 100
records or making a thousand dollars. And I think that's what
usually happens, to people who weren't expecting anything out
of it, you know? I guess, just don't expect anything out of it,
just do it because you love it.
with Mark Hoppus
put their derrieres on display more often than Marilyn Manson
and Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong combined, when Blink-182
talk about taking off their pants (as in their recent album, Take
Off Your Pants and Jacket) one thinks, what’s new? Surprisingly
though, there’s much more than meets the eye to this seemingly
typical Californian punk rock band. Singer/bassist Mark Hoppus
discloses the band’s deeper side to NY Rock’s Gabriella.
First off, I love the title of your new album, Take Off Your Pants
and Jacket, particularly after the video to "What's My Age
Again?" [hit single from Enema of the State (1999)] where
you were running around naked....
That scene with the butt shots, when we were running down the
street were actually the only real nude scenes. We wore skin-colored
Speedos for most of the scenes and when we were running, I realized
how unattractive male genitals are. Everything dangling and such.
I didn't think I could be embarrassed easily, but I really was.
So no more mooning the audience?
Oh, come on. Mooning is completely different. Mooning is not the
same. That's just a joke, but as a guy seeing yourself run stark
naked and everything bounces up and down, no way. That's really
not a pretty sight.
One thing that I find a bit strange is that fun punk angle. You
guys are fun, you moon people, all that, but there is more than
meets the eye. Despite all the fun, the lyrics are often quite
serious. You hide your punches well.
Our humor is pretty rough and crude sometimes; I can't deny it.
We do like our fun and all that, but we never wanted to be labeled
or have a certain image – that is something we always wanted
But now you're labeled as guys who'll drop their pants in a flash?
Yes, I think the video is our nemesis. Everybody always asks us
to drop our pants again and if we're going to perform naked again
or what. It's really bothersome, you know. So in a way the album
title is our way of dealing with it, making some fun because we
know the video will follow us until all eternity.
Are there limits to the crudity of the humor? Is there anything
you wouldn't joke about?
In general, we really do make fun about each and everyone. I hate
it if people take themselves and others too seriously, but you're
right, there are limits. Definitely. For example, domestic violence,
violence against women, rape, racism or homophobic jokes are simply
out of the question.
What would you be doing if you weren't a member of Blink-182?
Be a porn star, of course, and make all the guys jealous and the
women happy and horny. Look at me, I should consider a second
Go for it!
Well, but the truth isn't half as funny, you know. Actually, I
studied English and almost became an English teacher. I like reading
and I love Shakespeare. He showed me a completely new way of reading,
dealing with a language, you know, how language can be used.
Do you ever regret not finishing your studies?
Yes and no. I think most colleges are boring, just absolutely
fucking mind-numbingly boring because the teachers just don't
care. They don't give a damn about their pupils. They don't really
care if the kids learn something or not. Sometimes I even think
they hate kids. They act like robots. The reason I wanted to become
a teacher was to change it, get into the system and change it
from inside, but then things took off with the band and such.
Yes, but with the band you reach an even broader audience than
you would reach as a teacher. So, it can't be all that bad....
That's true and, you know, it's scary at the same time. As a musician
you have some responsibility. You're in the spotlight, on some
sort of a raised platform for some of the ideas you stand for.
But the good thing about punk rock, the real strength of punk
rock, is that you can honestly say what you think and that's what
we're talking about.
Are you interested in how your fans perceive you or is it more
of a take-it-or-leave-it approach?
That's kinda crazy because, yes, in a way I want to know how others
perceive me, and I think it's absolutely normal that you want
to be liked – even if we really get off on the hate mail
we get sometimes because it's just so funny. You get absolutely
stupid letters with horrific spelling and they tell you that you're
stupid and you suck.
So how about the image thing then? You are seen as a fun punk
As I said, we like fun. We're kinda crude sometimes, but we're
not just about fun. Our label tried to market us as a fun punk
band and it did suck. After Enema of the State, when "All
the Small Things" became a hit, they really tried to market
us as a bunch of guys that will do almost everything for kicks.
Sure, we love to laugh and for a while it was funny, but we kinda
got branded with that image and that's not all that we're about.
Hopefully Take Off Your Pants and Jacket will give people a different
idea about us.
You always struck me as a band that does like to laugh and, yeah,
in some of the past interviews you were a bit over the top –
sometimes – but your lyrics usually have a twist. They're
not all about fun and games....
I think if you didn't know us and never saw a picture of us goofing
around or one of our videos, then you'd listen to Take Off Your
Pants and Jacket and think that it's a punk album with some really
serious lyrics and some funny songs – like "Happy Holiday,
In a way we're
in the lucky position that we can experiment quite a bit, do whatever
we want, and write songs about every subject: like the pains of
growing up (I still feel them) trouble with the girlfriend, parents
that don't understand you, that school really sucks.
What is it like to be in a band and to know that whatever you
do, there are people out there who will love it? Is it great for
the ego or is it a bit of a strain? You know, the responsibility
As usual, a bit of both. But, actually, it's great. If you really
think about it, I sit in my bedroom in California and write a
song and people all over the world are able to hear it. Like we
go to Germany or Italy and they know all the lyrics. That's mind
But what really
blew me away and what is actually the greatest thing that has
happened, some fans wrote us mail and said that they wanted to
kill themselves, they seriously contemplated suicide, but then
they heard our song, "Adam's Song," and it changed their
mind. That really, really is great. I think that was one of the
greatest moments ever in my life.
Did it inspire you to write more serious songs?
I don't know if it is exactly the same, but "Stay Together
for the Kids" could have the same meaning, I hope. Tom was
dealing with the divorce of his parents. He wrote a song to help
him work through some issues he had when his parents divorced.
Divorce is such a normal thing today and hardly anybody ever thinks
how the kids feel about it or how they are taking it. But in the
US of A about half of all the kids go through it. They witness
how their parents drift apart and all that.
I saw some of your tour plans and you definitely look like one
hell of a busy band. Combined with all the promotion work, I can't
help but wonder how you find the time to breathe far less manage
your website and the clothing line....
Being a member of Blink-182 is definitely not a part time job,
I agree. We're on the road for 9 out of 12 months. Recording,
touring, promotion, all that. Sometimes it's just: show, fly,
show, fly, show. After a couple of days I completely forgot where
I was. I didn't even know in which city I slept. When we got back
to the hotel I was just interested in hitting the pillow. Touring
is pretty exhausting; the traveling can really do you in.