Travis Barker took over as drummer of punk rock band Blink-182 in 1998 after stepping in for Scott Raynor at a live show and supposedly learning a 20-song set in 45 minutes! Appointing Travis as their drummer was the best decision the band ever made – his diverse range of influences and raw talent brought about a whole new energy to Blink-182 and opened up new doors for the band that made them stand out from the crowd and inspire a whole generation of pop-punk bands.
What I admire about Barker though is his work ethic – I’ve not seen anything like it before. Not only has he been with Blink-182 for 22 years, but he has drummed for +44, Box Car Racer, The Transplants and Aquabats to name a few, he owns his own clothing label, he co-owns a vegan restaurant in L.A., and in recent years he has worked with a whole host of artists, from FEVER 333 and Yelawolf to Halsey and Run The Jewels. More recently he co-wrote, produced and played drums on the number 1 album Tickets to my Downfall by Machine Gun Kelly (you can read my review of that album here). From what I’ve seen and heard Travis isn’t into confrontation, bitterness, drama or taking sides, he just cares about the music and that’s what makes him one of my favourite musicians. Here are my five favourite Blink-182 performances from Travis Barker:
5. I Miss You
I Miss You isn’t the most technically difficult part to play, it doesn’t have the fanciest fills, and it’s very repetitive. What it does have though is originality, and that is why it has made it onto this list. It’s one of the key features that defines the song and is instantly recognisable. The track opens with the drum beat and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that needs to wait for the rest of the song to kick in before realising it’s I Miss You. So simple yet so effective.
4. No Heart To Speak Of
This song is the newest entry and can be found on 2019’s NINE (my review of that album is here). All I need to say about this song is ‘fills’. The drum beats throughout are nothing groundbreaking, but the fills, particularly in the chorus, are incredible. The outro is where Barker is really let loose though – it feels like a jam session, like’s he just having a good time doing what he loves, and it really is a treat to listen to. It’s also one of my favourite tracks from NINE!
3. Anthem Pt. 2
The drumming in Anthem Pt. 2 drives the direction of the song in my opinion and gives it personality. The snare at the start, the fills, the tempo changes, all of it is fantastic. The highlight of the drumming from this song though is the beat in the verse. It’s complex but Travis doesn’t make a big deal about it – just casually slips in an amazing beat. Brilliant.
2. Heart’s All Gone
Heart’s All Gone was the first song that got me really excited for Blink-182’s return. The second single from Neighborhoods and an example of just how speedy Travis’ drumming can be, Heart’s All Gone is all about the drumming for me. The drums steal the show from start to finish and Barker’s use of the ride (particularly in the intro) is amazing.
The first Blink-182 single to be released with Travis on drums was ‘What’s My Age Again?’ (I think) in April 1999. It has a simple pop beat that showed the world the new commercially-friendly direction the band was going in. Enema of the State was released in June that same year and the opening track is Dumpweed, which has a completely different vibe. This is where fans were really shown what Travis is made of – a punchy opening beat that nicely follows the riff, amazing fills and a groovy pre-chorus beat.
Those are my top 5 favourite Blink-182 drum performances from Travis Barker, but to be honest I think Travis is consistently fantastic on every Blink-182 album he features on. I would like to make special mentions to Not Now, the Fallen Interlude, Cynical, Feeling This, Don’t Leave Me, Violence and Happy Holidays, You Bastard!