“There’s no rules” when it comes to drums – at least according to Travis Barker.
The 47-year-old drummer has become a household name over the last 20 years. Thanks to Travis and his bands (including Blink-182, The Aquabats, Transplants and more), millions of youth around the world have found a passion for the drums.
By merging musical styles and creating signature rhythms that have become hooks in themselves, he’s carved out his own niche in the industry – and he deserves all the acclaim he’s received during his career.
There are many reasons why Travis Barker is one of the top drummers of all time, and we’re going to highlight a few here – with lots of proof to back it up.
Why is Travis Barker famous?
He’s known for drumming in bands like Blink-182, Box Car Racer and Transplants, and for working with Machine Gun Kelly and other artists.
Travis Barker developed a recognizable style by combining elements of punk rock drumming, hip-hop beats, and rudimental drumline.
He’s a serial entrepreneur, founding a clothing company (Famous Stars and Straps) in 1999, and later starting record labels (DTA Records, LaSalle Records). Travis also owns Barker Wellness Co., which sells organic and vegan CBD products.
Travis has become an in-demand producer, working with artists like Avril Lavigne, Ho99o9, Jxdn and more.
In his 2015 autobiography Can I Say, Travis talks about how he developed his signature style early on as he spent hours honing his drumline chops, taking jazz lessons, and learning Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms.
Did you know Travis Barker is a left-handed drummer? He’s played on a right-handed kit for so long that he’s basically ambidextrous, so he can move around the kit evenly and comfortably.
And if you’re wondering why he sets up his toms and snare perfectly flat, that comes from playing in his school drumline – as do the rudiments he often includes in his drum parts.
He could be a straight forward drummer and support Blink-182’s straight forward guitar riffs, but then he wouldn’t be Travis Barker. He separated himself from other drummers in the genre early on, deciding to push back against whatever ‘authority’ said punk drummers had to play simple.
Many Blink-182 songs start with a drum part. Travis is so adept at writing drum hooks that they become crucial and memorable parts of the song. Would “First Date” be the same without this iconic drum intro?
Drummers will probably recognize the verse of “Adam’s Song”, which uses unique cymbal placement, a variety of sounds like bells and splashes, and tom triplets:
How about the verse of “Anthem Part Two”?
Check out how the drum part drives the intro of “Hey I’m Sorry”:
And you’ll hear how extra percussion sounds (like cowbell) take “Feeling This” to the next level:
Travis often plays grooves on the rims, like in the intro of “Snake Charmer”:
And in “I Miss You”:
Another Barker-ism is syncopated ride bell patterns, which you can hear in songs like “Aliens Exist” and “Wishing Well”:
Travis’ drumline influences surface again in timeless parts like his rolls in “There Is” by Box Car Racer and “Easy Target” by Blink-182:
One of the most important skills a punk drummer needs to have is the ability to play fast. Travis’ speed and endurance help him nail songs like “Heart’s All Gone”, which is one of Blink-182’s fastest songs and features plenty of bass drum doubles:
And like other punk drummers, Travis is a master of the skank beat (the double-time polka beat), a defining groove of the punk rock style. You can hear it in songs like “Dumpweed”, “The Party Song” and “Anthem”.
If you want to hear Travis’ blazing fast drum fills, check out “Generational Divide” (it’s less than a minute long) and the intro of “Cynical”.
We said it before, but that iconic fill from the intro of “First Date” needs to be mentioned again.
4. He’s created a career outside of Blink-182
He could’ve been content with the success of his primary band, but why stop there when you could keep drumming?
One of the many reasons Travis Barker is a household name is because he’s always pushed boundaries stylistically. As someone who can thrive in a range of musical situations, he’s played and collaborated with Transplants, Halsey, The Aquabats, Machine Gun Kelly, Avril Lavigne and many more.
Outside of punk and drumline influences, you can hear Travis’ hip-hop influences in his work with Transplants and the late DJ AM. He founded DTA records in 2019 and started producing rap artists, too.
is an author, educator, and performer based out of Vancouver, Canada. Brandon is the author of The Drummer's Toolbox, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, and the Content Director at Musora, home to the award-winning online music education platforms Drumeo, Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.