Travis Barker is widely considered one of the best punk and rock drummers of all time. First rising to prominence with his ska-punk group Aquabats, he became known to Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge when Barker’s band toured as support for Blink-182 in 1997.
When Scott Rayner was fired from Blink in 1998, Barker was drafted in for some shows, and he famously learnt 20 songs in just 45 minutes. His first album with the band was Enema Of The State and he has been the drummer on their next five albums including most recently Nine in 2019.
Here are five of his best and most iconic drum solos, fills and performances on recorded Blink-182 tracks. I have tried to pay service to as wide a look at his Blink discography as possible.
‘Don’t Leave Me’
The impact of Travis Barker impact on Blink-182 was immediately evident on Enema Of The State, with songs like ‘Don’t Leave Me’ showing his ability not only to drum quickly, but also to add in elements like the cowbell which embellished Blink’s sound hugely. While Scott Raynor certainly had the ability to go fast and hard, Barker’s sound was notable in how clean it sounded in comparison. The intro to ‘Don’t Leave’ me showed his ability to match guitar rhythms while also keeping a back-beat going.
Blink began to really back Barker’s ability to fill space that would usually be taken up by guitars on Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. With ‘First Date’, not only does the track open with some typically clean and quick fills, but the verse only has minimal guitar with Delonge’s singing accompanied by Barker as well as Hoppus on bass. This track also show’s off the drummer’s versatility, with that iconic chorus going back and forth between downbeats and what is essentially speed drumming in small parts.
‘I Miss You’
While most songs on this list are tracks you’d expect to focus on speed and technical ability, it would be unfair to go past an understated track like ‘I Miss You’. Just as some of the openings of harder hitting tracks are immediately recognisable as Barker and Blink, this track falls in the same category but for his cleaner, more metronomic qualities. That opening beat, which continues throughout the song, is complex yet simple, and is just as important to this feeling of the track as any other musical aspect.
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The first 5 seconds of ‘Feeling This’ makes it one of the most readily identifiable songs by Blink-182 even though there are no guitars at all. Travis Barker and his use of syncopation in this opening is also a great example of how the band went slightly experimental on this album, though lack of creative common ground would lead to Tom DeLonge’s first departure. The fills that come back in during bridging sections are equally as outstanding.
While the California album was released to mixed reviews, carrying a more ‘produced’ feeling, ‘Rabbit Hole’ is a track that feels like it harked back to the more raw sound of Blink-182. After almost two decades in the game, this track shows that Barker can go just as hard and intricate as ever, with the tune really shining the spotlight on his pure ability.