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Blink-182’s Travis Barker: 4+ Reasons He’s A Drumming Genius

Brandon Toews  /  UPDATED Jun 19, 2023

“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.
  • He’s married to Kourtney Kardashian, who recently announced she’s pregnant.

1. Travis Barker combines punk rock with drumline

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.

Watch: 5 Ways To Improve Your Punk Drumming

Rudimental drumming is a big part of Travis’ playing style. You can hear it in subtle ways, like in the intro of “What’s My Age Again?” (with five stroke rolls and pataflaflas on the ride):

whats my age again blink 182 drum notation travis barker
The intro of “What’s My Age Again” by Blink-182

You can hear his fast, accented, single stroke rolls in the bridge of “Going Away To College”:

going away to college blink-182 travis barker drum notation
“Going Away To College”

And double strokes on the hi-hats in “After Midnight”:

after midnight blink 182 travis barker drum notation
“After Midnight”

Travis also likes to work the toms in creative ways, like this heavy groove in “I Feel So” by Box Car Racer:

I feel so box car racer drum notation travis barker
“I Feel So” by Box Car Racer

Listen to how Travis combines many of these elements and uses most of the kit in the outro of “Home Is Such A Lonely Place” and in the prechorus of Blink-182’s “Always”:

always blink 182 travis barker drum notation
“Always” by Blink-182

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2. His drum parts are instantly recognizable

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:

adams song blink 182 travis barker drum notation
“Adam’s Song” by Blink-182

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”:

blink 182 snake charmer travis barker drum notation
The rim click in “Snake Charmer” is notated like a cowbell here.

And in “I Miss You”:

blink 182 i miss you drum notation travis barker

Another Barker-ism is syncopated ride bell patterns, which you can hear in songs like “Aliens Exist” and “Wishing Well”:

blink 182 aliens exist drum notation travis barker
“Aliens Exist”
wishing well drum notation travis barker blink-182
“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:

easy target blink 182 travis barker drum notation
“Easy Target” by Blink-182
Watch: 3 Sick Travis Barker Drum Grooves

3. His speed and precision are world class

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:

hearts all gone blink 182 drum notation travis barker
“Heart’s All Gone” by Blink-182

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”.

skank beat blink 182 travis barker drum notation
An example of the skank beat.
blink 182 anthem drum notation travis barker beat
The main beat in Blink-182’s song “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.

first date blink 182 intro fill drum notation travis barker
The iconic intro fill from “First Date” by Blink-182.

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.

aquabats powdered milk man travis barker drum notation
“Powdered Milk Man” by The Aquabats

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.

Listen to his solo album and hear how he can turn straight forward grooves into something more interesting.

Travis has also appeared with the Foo Fighters, HER and more.

From a clothing brand (Famous Stars and Straps) to reality TV (Meet The Barkers) and a wellness company (Barker Wellness), Travis has done it all.

And because of him, more people are playing drums today.

It didn’t surprise us that the public named Travis Barker Drummer Of The Year at the 2021 Drumeo Awards. Thousands of drummers grew up looking up to him, and his influence is undeniable.

Do you agree?

If not, you might want to re-read this article.

Learn about other influential drummers in our ‘genius of’ series:

Brandon Toews 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.

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