The Shotcaller Interview: Travis Barker

Two years removed from a brush with death, and with his highly anticipated solo LP in stores today, the tatted drummer is ready to get some.

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Image via Complex Original
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Two years removed from a brush with death, and with his highly anticipated solo LP, Give The Drummer Some, in stores today, Travis Barker is getting his.

Travis Barker doesn’t fly anymore; given the tragic plane crash that nearly cost him his life two years ago, that’s perfectly understandable. The iconic drummer has always been a down-to-earth guy as well. But his personality and travel preferences might be the only things grounded about the 35-year-old these days. We caught up with Travis shortly after he’d wrapped a European tour with his band Blink-182, a sequel of sorts to the group’s wildly successful American outing the previous summer.

His new high-flying project is Give the Drummer Some, a genre-bending debut solo album that features a diverse group of famous friends, from RZA to Slash to Lil Wayne. The album hits stores today so we figured it was a perfect time for us to post our Shotcaller Interview (along with exclusive extra images) with Travis from our December/January 2011 issue (that had Kanye West and Ke$ha on the cover). Fresh off his first transatlantic cruise (no flights, remember), Travis spoke with Complex about working with rappers, a new Blink-182 record, and why he loves shitting on boundaries.

Interview by Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo).

You’re splitting your time pretty evenly between rap and rock these days. Have you grown to prefer one genre to the other?
Travis Barker: With rock music, it usually revolves around the band. You go in as a band and probably take about a year to record an album. But for a hip-hop song, you can create a track and an idea with verses and choruses in a day, and get three different people on it. It seems like you’re able to do more with hip-hop. You’ll see with the album. But I also love being in the studio with Mark and Tom [of Blink-182]. I like all of it. I’d be bummed if one of them wasn’t there. I wouldn’t want to just play rap music; I wouldn’t want to just play punk rock music.

Who are some of the people you’ve been working with on the solo record?
Travis Barker: It’s really across the board. There’s a Transplants song that has Slash on it called “Saturday Night.” There’s RZA, Raekwon, Tom Morello, and me on a track together where RZA’s playing guitar. I got a track with Bun B and Beanie Sigel. I got the craziest Slaughterhouse song, like the darkest shit ever. It’s all over the place. I’ve always loved playing in bands where there’s like three or four people and we’re all throwing out ideas and coming together to make an album—but this is me, man. This is 100 percent me working with all my favorite MCs and rappers and DJs and guitar players. It’s really, really been fun.

As a longtime fan of hip-hop, how does it feel to be a figure in the scene these days?
Travis Barker: It seems like I have more in common—or hit it off better—with rappers than fools that are in rock music. It was always natural for me. And I’m a huge fan. Whenever I get an offer or hear a guy like Wayne shout me out on a mixtape, it’s like, “What the fuck!” I’m always flattered. Totally honored, stoked, or whatever.

Back to rock music, what’s the status of the next Blink-182 album?
Travis Barker: We’re getting started as soon as I turn in my solo album. That’s the next step. No more touring. No more shows. We’ll be in the studio until we release it.

Have there been any musings about what it will sound like? There was a noticeable difference between the last pre-breakup LP and the earlier Blink records.
Travis Barker: Everything we did between the time we put shit on pause until now will definitely have an influence on what’s about to happen. It’s kinda like the last album: no restrictions, no boundaries. We kinda pretend like it’s our first record all over again. The last record, there was no such thing as a mistake or a wrong idea. Express yourself, put stuff down on tape, and see what lives.

What kinds of subject matter do you anticipate “living” the most?
Travis Barker: I think all that comes after the music’s created and we sit down and decide what we’re writing about, or how that record makes you feel. But as far as music, there are so many beats and rhythms and time signatures and stuff that we never even got to play with. I don’t even know what to expect. It’s never gonna be totally different than what you expect from Blink, but we’ll definitely explore new sounds. I’m excited.

Do you ever catch flak from rock fans for experimenting with other genres?
Travis Barker: There’s a lot of pieces to me and if some fans don’t like every piece, that’s OK. I got people who were mad when I played the Grammys with Wayne, Drake, and Eminem. That’s one of the biggest highlights of my life, and they’ll be like, “Stop playing this rap shit!” You know what I mean? It’s like, “Fuck you, man!” Open up your eyes. Open up your ears, you Nazi bastard. Don’t be so closed-minded. There’s nothing better than hanging out with Bun B and having him tell me he’s been listening to Radiohead like crazy. I’ve always been a confused kid and I’ve never grown up out of that. I listened to all types of music and no one judged me for it, and if they did, I told them to go fuck themselves.

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