Blink-182 drummer (and recent Weekly cover model) Travis Barker launched his Give the Drummer Some residency at Hyde Tuesday night, spending time on the drum throne and behind the decks to create a unique fusion of live and electronic music. Weekly sat down with Barker on the nightclub’s lakeside patio before his kickoff performance, talking about his motivation to pull off such a stunt, not wanting to be boxed into one genre and the possibility of another Blink album.
You started drumming in your high school’s jazz band and marching band. Can we expect you to return to those styles? Maybe drum on a jazz album or incorporate marching cadences into your DJ sets? Oh, I would love to. The hardest thing to do would be to put together a great jazz band right now. It’s much easier to find people to make whatever, to be on my hip-hop album … or whatever project I’m doing. To get a group of jazz musicians together and really do something amazing, that would probably be the hardest. I know a lot of older cats that are into jazz, but I don’t know a whole bunch of young people that are like, Yeah, let’s create a jazz band. … I think every time I do my residency here I’m going to do something different. I plan on … [bringing] maybe some other drummers out, like marching [drums], during a set. Tonight Iamsu! is coming out, who is on my single “100” that I just released. So I plan to have a surprise every time.
You were playing with a lot of DJs before you started DJing yourself. When did you decide to get behind the tables? Obviously it started with AM and I, and then when AM passed I played with A-Trak for a while. And then I played with Mix Master Mike for a while and I did a couple things with Z-Trip, so I was always around some of the best DJs in the world … and I was always inspired by them. … I picked up turntables about 10 years ago and I broke my hand one time and … I learned how to scratch a bit, as much as I could with the broken arm that I had, and I always loved it. It just came to me after doing an event here, I said, man, I want to put a set together doing both. I had this crazy idea of being able to do what I love about DJing the most, which is scratch and cut and stuff, and drum at the same time. And everyone was like, It’s f*cking impossible. … And then I just kind of shut up; I didn’t say anything about it to anyone. I locked myself in my studio for a couple weeks and I said, I’m going to do it.
You injured your left hand pretty extensively in the 2008 plane crash you were in. How did you overcome that to still be able to drum as well as you do? I guess, like, mind over matter. They told me I couldn’t do a lot of things after the crash, and I kind of didn’t listen to any of them and kind of surpassed everything. Every restriction they basically gave me as I left the hospital I overcame. You’re not going to run. You like running, you’re never going to be able to run. You’re going to be on medication for the rest of your life. Your left hand will never be the same. You might not play drums again. It was just determination. I mean, I broke my back in four places. There were so many things I was told that I [couldn’t] do, that it just kind of made me want to try even harder.
There’s been a lot of talk of Blink-182 coming back together, but you and Mark Hoppus haven’t said anything official about it. What’s going on? Nothing is sure. Last year we wanted to play the music festival [MUSINK in Orange County], so we got Matt Skiba to fill in. We had such a good time with Matt; we had known him for so long [and] he’s so talented. Every week he was just coming to rehearsal, when all he really needed to do is learn the set, and he’d be like, Dude, I have this idea for a song. It would be like if someone you guys were working with was like, Dude, I have this idea for you to go do this and you’re just overwhelmed with how much they want to participate and [how] amped they are to be a part of it. It brings good energy to something, and all the songs he was bringing to practice when we were just learning our set were so good and fit right in with what Blink-182 is. So I think it would be really cool to get in the studio with him.
You’re in Vegas a lot. Do you ever get off the Strip? Besides back in the day, coming here for photo shoots when I was in bands … we’d go to like the old town Las Vegas and take photos. But I can’t say I know a whole bunch about anything off the Strip besides Red Rock. I think that’s the furthest I have actually stayed and been around for a while.
That’s a lot further than most! Really? Last time we played [Hyde] it was the Mayweather fight. That was the first time I played here, and I stayed over there and it was so fun. It was really nice to be away from it all when you’re done. When you’re finished playing you actually leave, so you could breathe and you’ve got room.
Is there any genre you gravitate toward more than others? I don’t want to be boxed in one genre because I like so many. I would hate to think about living under this bubble of one genre. Like we know you for this. This is all you can do. I hate that. I want to break every boundary or stereotype that tries to define me like that, you know?
Barker returns to Hyde for another residency installment September 5.