Travis Barker likes to “do it non-traditional.” So when he met a machine-gun-paced, spitfire young rapper named Yelawolf that his manager said could be Barker’s brother “but a rapper from Alabama,” and whom Kevin from Kevin & Bean at KROQ Los Angeles called “Tim Armstrong on meth,” Barker started making music with him the same day.
Barker said that the two had such good chemistry that what first began as them just making songs to go on each other’s albums or to come out with Yelawolf’s next collection for his Country Fresh clothing line ended up being an EP featuring collaborations with the likes of the aforementioned Armstrong, Skinhead Rob, and Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys.
“We just listened back one day,” said Barker. “We were like, ‘Man, we’re sitting on some good songs. We should let the world hear these.'”
At the same time that Barker was mixing the first Psycho White single, “Push ‘Em,” the Transplants session was starting at the studio. This led to Skinhead Rob and Armstrong appearing on the track and later on, Armstrong co-wrote on a reggae-sounding track “Six Feet Underground.” This inspired the punk rock veteran to shoot a music video at Los Angeles skate shop Brooklyn Projects for the song.
With such a mash-up of collaborators and genres, Barker confesses that he likes to keep things original–especially when it comes to fresh beats.
“I’m so hard on myself. I never want to do something that sounds, ultimately, like something I’ve done before,” admitted the multifaceted musician. One part of this process is utilizing the tools around him, like drum machines on his bus, to make sure he’s making a lot of beats, and practicing at home for long periods of time.
“I play everyday. It’s my therapy,” laughs the drummer, saying his neighbors in the City of Calabasas hate him. “Whether I have work or I don’t have work, I need to sit down and play my drums for like a good hour or hour-and-a-half everyday.”
Another part of Barker’s process in keeping things original is to be in studio with the people he is collaborating with. While he sometimes contributes drum parts off site, Barker admits that while he liked Blink-182’s last album Neighborhoods, he’s more excited about the new stuff Blink is putting out because they did it in studio together.
Blink’s newest “music installment” will be coming out on Christmas. “There is a Christmas song and then there’s just songs, just kind of our gift to our fans on Christmas,” says Barker. “We were in the studio all last week and we wrote a lot of good songs. Really stoked on it.” Next year, the band will be recording a full-length.
Barker and Yelawolf’s Psycho White self-titled EP is now available at major retailers.
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles