By Travis Barker, as told to Billy Lee Lewis

We hooked up with Travis Barker, the pulse of Blink 182 “somewhere between New York and Boston” during their recent tour with No Doubt. Despite the combined impediments of a grueling schedule and a broken foot, Barker had obviously taken considerable time to compile a list of recordings, which he based not only on his own tastes, but on the musical value he felt each recording had to offer his fellow drummers. Now, that’s cool.

1. Them by King Diamond

I grew up playing in marching bands, and [drummer] Mickey Dee always played the coolest patterns. The way he placed accents, and where he placed accents were really, really cool, like Latin patterns on his ride cymbal. That stuff just wasn’t happening in rock music back then. I wasn’t much of a double-bass drum fan, but he incorporated them into his fills in a really tasty fashion. Oh yeah, he set up all his drums and cymbals totally flat, which I thought was so cool and inspiring. To this day, all my drums are set up completely flat.

2. Zoso (AKA Led Zeppelin IV) by Led Zeppelin

Bonham’s fills, the way his drums sounded, and the way he approached songs were just so refreshing. Everyone back then had, like, 19 drums, and I was like “No, look at John Bonham, with one bass drum, half the kit, and he sounds ten times better!”

3. Greatest Hits by The Police

I grew up loving Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich, and Elvin Jones, but when it came to rock music, I wanted to see a drummer hit his drums hard, and Stewart Copeland always beat the hell out of his drums. I loved him for all his hi-hat work and his unexpected parts on Police songs. “Message In A Bottle” would have been so different played by a “normal” drummer. The way he incorporated ska and reggae into rock music was just so refreshing. I was in a ska band before I was in Blink, and he was my eyes and ears for everything I was learning back then.”


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4. Too Fast For Love by Motley Crue

Tommy Lee purposely came up with all those parts so that he could still be a flashy drummer on stage. They’re easy parts, but they’re so good and well thought out. He’s also one of the most excellent and solid drummers I’ve ever heard play live in my whole life, and for me, was the epitome of cool in the ’80s.

5. Killing Joke by Killing Joke

Dave Grohl [Nirvana, Foo Fighters] actually played drums on that record, and they’re all recorded separately. The hi-hat was recorded, then the bass drum, cymbals, and so on. If you listen closely, you’ll hear tom fills coming in over the hat and snare – stuff that’s normally impossible, you know. It’s way more challenging than conventional recording because of all the possibilities that exist in this style; you can experiment with layering parts and take it as far as your imagination will let you. Also, on the practical side, there’s no cymbal bleed or anything like that. I did a Transplants record that way, and because of my [broken] foot, I did some of the new Blink record like that.

6. Best Of by Missing Persons

I think on songs like “Mental Hopscotch” it was really innovative and creative the way Terry Bozzio accented on his China cymbal – I’d never heard a drummer use a China so much in my life! I also thought it was cool the way he accented with the bell of his ride. His drum parts were so creative and different from any other drummer of their genre. I’m just really drawn to drummers who push themselves and don’t play stock drum parts, but instead look for something more creative. As great as he has become, that was my favorite stage of Bozzio’s drumming.

7. Musicology by Prince

John Blackwell is probably one of my favorite drummers. His showmanship, chops, and pocket groove, both live and recorded, are just ridiculous! I love all the parts he played on Musicology—even the parts he may have programmed are really cool. I suggest that everyone listen to that record, because there’s such great drumming, and, of course, really good songwriting. He’s also one of my favorite drummers to see live—he’s exciting and inspiring, and just so much fun to watch. I love that he can be playing the simplest thing in the world, and he just looks and feels like he’s having a good time—but when there’s an opening or a feature spot for him, he gets down.

This article was originally published in the August-September 2004 issue of Drum!

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