Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better for Adrian Young of No Doubt and Travis Barker of Blink-182, check out these travel plans: The pair will be cohabitating the stage for a bunch of nights this summer as their bands tour the U.S. together.
While each group is perfectly capable of headlining on their own, this tour will be different, as the bands are sharing top billing. Besides giving great value for the fans, their close relationship provides a major cure to the pains of touring — by having more fun together offstage, Young, Barker and their cohorts are even better prepared to deliver onstage.
We were able to catch up with these two drumming maniacs only by conferencing them on cell phones as they each raced around Los Angeles. Young is cruising down one freeway with his baby on board. Barker seems to be the sole occupant of his vehicle.
DRUM!: Thanks a lot for making the time guys, did you just come from the photo shoot? What kind of photos did you take?
Young: I don’t know, I guess the normal cheesy ones. We had boxing gloves on and we were facing each other. I think it’s kind of a joke, but we’re planning on having a good time on the tour for sure.
DRUM!: Good. All right, cool. How long have you known each other?
Young: Well we met, I don’t know, maybe seven years ago, or something. But uh, but from what I can tell, Travis is probably the busiest drummer in the world! [laughs]
DRUM!: Travis, are you the busiest drummer in the world?
Barker: Man, I wish. I don’t think I’m the busiest. But it’s at a good pace right now, I feel comfortable.
DRUM!: Well, good. You guys are touring veterans now. What’s different about it now that you’ve got a bunch of miles under your belts, than it was the first time you ever toured?
Young: Well, I think for me, it’s starting the year before last, it got different when I had my son and wife with me on the road. That changed things up quite a bit. And the partying got to be a little less. We were on our own bus, I was separated from the band for the first time in 15 years. It was probably good. [laughs] I love being with my family, having a kid is better than anything.
DRUM!: Travis, is that going to change the way you hit the road? [Barker just had a son.]
Barker: Yeah, definitely, when he’s out, obviously I’ve got to be like a dad. I guess, everything in moderation, you know? I’ll still have a good time. I think I’ll bring a nanny, so I can still have my moments.
DRUM!: Musically, why do you think Blink and No Doubt make a good pairing?
Barker: We’re fans of No Doubt. We’ve been fans of No Doubt forever, and I think it’s a good combination of bands for our fans to go see.
Young: I think we have probably a lot of the same fans as well. There’s definitely some cross-pollinating going on. I don’t know if you’ve seen both of our bands, but we definitely want to throw a lot of energy at the audience. It’ll be good to have two bands to give energy. It’ll be like a friendly competition each night, everyone trying to give out as much as they can. It’ll be good for the fans. And plus, with two bands, when you have a little bit of shorter sets each night, probably than the normal, the fans are just going to get mostly all hits, and less filler. I think for most fans, that’s what they’re looking for. They want to hear the hits.
DRUM!: Are you guys going to get a chance to see each other play every night?
Young: We usually stay at the venue all day and all night, and we party afterwards. Pretty hard. Unless, the kid needs attention like this, so it’s in moderation, but I’m sure we’re going to see them almost every night. Barker: Yeah. We’ll be charging their parties.
DRUM!: Nice! Adrian, I was curious if you remember the first time you saw Travis play drums, and what did you think of him?
Young: The first time I can remember is at the Shrine at the KROQ festival thing. I was blown away. Everybody was blown away. It’s cool to have someone on tour that plays drums that well. It’s a great thing.
DRUM!: What kind of drummer did you think he was?
Young: Well, it seemed to me like all the newer guys playing punk and that kind of alternative rock music, I think, he was pretty much leading the new breed. He was the best guy that I could think of at the time, and I guess he still is!
DRUM!: Yeah, I think most people are agreed on that.
Barker: Those are all nice things you guys are saying about me. I don’t know if they’re true.
DRUM!: Travis, do you remember the first time you saw Adrian play?
Barker: Yeah man, I saw him play a long time ago, I think in Riverside at a place called Attitudes or something when I was really young. I was into the band back then, then I remember seeing them on the Tragic … um no, I forget what tour it was, but they played six nights at the Whiskey, and I got a chance to go to those shows, and he was one of those drummers I grew up listening to that helped shape me. So yeah, it’s going to be awesome being on tour together. He had elements of Stewart Copeland, and the same energy of people I love, like as far as Keith Moon and stuff, so I was always a fan.
Young: I think that first gig he was talking about was like 1991 or something, and back then I had the passion to play drums, I wanted to play and play with energy with them, but I had never really taken lessons or knew how to read at that time. While we were making Tragic Kingdom I took more classes at college, and learned how to read a little bit and play a paradiddle the right way! [laughs] I was just kind of winging it — I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I definitely tried to discipline myself more over the years. And I think ultimately the best thing is all the years of touring, more than anything, because it gives you confidence, and just like anything else in life, if you do it enough, you usually get pretty good at it.
Barker: Yeah, I mean, just playing and playing with a band. I don’t really play by myself very much, you know, practice on a drum set. I always liked playing with people, I think you learn more that way. Playing with your band, and getting a chance to jam every day in soundcheck, that’s where you can be creative and have fun.
DRUM!: Travis, how would you define yourself as a drummer?
Barker: Man, I don’t know. That’s a weird question to ask somebody. You know, every year I try to push myself, whatever it is, like learning a new samba or whatever, or going back and learning my favorite Run DMC record front to back, just for the hell of it. I guess if anything, I’m just into more music now. I’m concentrating more on things other than fancy fills or being flashy. Just having a good time and playing with energy. The most important thing is having fun, you know?
DRUM!: Yeah! One thing you guys both have in common is you’re bringing up the word “energy” a lot. What’s the key to delivering that live? Do you have to be in good shape?
Barker: I don’t know. I see drummers in some bands and they look bored, like they’re not having a good time, sleeping behind their kit, and I don’t understand how you can be a drummer and not be hyper. It doesn’t make sense to me. So, I’ve always loved to go see a band with a drummer that hits hard, and genuinely looks like he feels what he plays, not some dork playing a bunch of stuff he doesn’t feel.
Young: I think the energy thing also comes from the other people in the band. Because, if you have a unit that’s willing to just go for it musically then it’s a lot easier. Because if I was willing to go off every night, and the rest of the band just wasn’t feeling that, or you’re making up new songs and they’re not feeling that, it’s kind of tough. Like in our last album where it got really eclectic, there’s some spots where I had to just totally pull back, and that’s not my instinct to do that. At the same time it was a good lesson to learn to pull back a little bit, not try to play fast or get fancy with the fills. But definitely live, the band’s got to help push it along. If the rest of the band are dorks and they can’t put out the energy with you, then it just won’t work.
DRUM!: Say one guy had a bad piece of sushi one night on the tour and couldn’t perform, would the other one be able to fill in?
Barker: Yeah, if something awful happened to Adrian and he couldn’t go on, I’d go on.
Young: I would do the set.
DRUM!: Yeah? How would it go?
Young: It would be a short set! [laughs]
DRUM!: Travis, would it be difficult for you to pull back a little and pull off some reggae and ska feels like Adrian does?
Barker: I don’t know. I would love that. I grew up playing that stuff.
DRUM!: How about you, Adrian, could you fill in for Travis?
Young: I don’t know if I could do it as well, but I played a little bit of faster music from time to time on the side. I went on tour with my friends The Vandals when Josh Freese couldn’t do it. I could do it, but it would definitely be different.
DRUM!: I know both bands are excellent at making people move. What’s the difference between a good drum beat and one that makes people really dance?
Barker: I think it’s the way that it’s played, the way that it feels. Someone can play just the simplest thing, and if it feels good, then people can tell.
Young: I think there’s pretty much three elements. There’s that — the way you play it — and the way the other musicians on the stage are playing it, and it’s the performance you’re giving. Because we found over the years from day one, when we were just teenagers, that if we move onstage, the crowd generally will go with us. We try to keep that going, as we get a little older and fatter. [laughs]
DRUM!: Is that another thing both your bands have in common, that you can really make people dance?
Barker: Yeah, I mean I definitely think our audiences feed off us, and they’re energetic. Both No Doubt’s and Blink’s are. It seems like it couldn’t be a better pair, you know what I mean? It makes sense.
DRUM!: What about you Adrian?
Young: I’m calling this the Power Tour! [laughs] I’m calling it Tour Of The Summer! [Adrian and Travis both crack up].
DRUM!: If you could add any one band to this tour, still together or apart, just to be able to watch their drummer, what band would that be?
Young: The spirit of, like, friends hanging out, good musicianship especially the drummer, I would be totally happy to have The Vandals come out and watch Josh Freese play drums. We all know each other, both bands. I don’t think that’s the case with Josh’s A Perfect Circle right now.
Barker: He can be living or dead? Um, Led Zeppelin. Yeah. I know it’s cliché, but John Bonham is amazing still, like, I don’t know how many years later.
DRUM!: Adrian, pick a drummer who’s not around anymore or a band that broke up. What would your ultimate fantasy be to have them on tour with you guys?
Young: Probably the Police. I still love Stewart Copeland. I can never get enough of him, and I love every Police record that they ever made.
DRUM!: Yeah! What’s the most fun part about touring, and what’s the toughest part?
Barker: The toughest part is probably being apart from my old lady when I leave. My baby and my old lady, I don’t get to see, because I’m going to Europe. He’s a little bit too young to go right now, and my girl’s going to be working. But that’s the only hard part. Everything else is fun, you know? Touring is like the best time ever.
DRUM!: Are there things you have to do to make sure you stay in shape or is the drumming exercise enough while you’re on the road?
Young: I like to try and stay in shape in general, I like to run and work out as much as I can. I don’t know how much that has to do with the drumming, but I can probably do that whether I’m in shape or not. But we generally in the past have brought a trainer on the road with us, because I think the thing that’s getting harder is not the drumming for me, but maybe for the rest of the band it’s staying in shape and putting on an energetic show, since we’re all in our mid-thirties.
DRUM!: So is that the toughest part of touring for you, Adrian?
Young: Oh, that’s not the toughest part. The toughest part is … touring is an intense marriage, so to speak, and you’re married to these other people in the band. We’re like all best friends in the band, but touring definitely weighs down on us, and when we’re home we just hang out and it’s just friendship, but sometimes on the road there’s tension created. It’s like going to work with your wife, you know? Would you want to go to work with your wife all day long?
DRUM!: Well, believe it or not, I do. And I like it a lot, but I think I’m kind of lucky. But that’s interesting, because you guys have known each other so long, doesn’t make tension go away? Can that be the opposite?
Young: A little bit. That’s just human nature. We party a lot together. We wouldn’t go out this year if we weren’t going to have fun. And we’re just going to go for it, you know?
DRUM!: I’ve got three more questions, guys. First, how do you guys feel how drumming and rhythm in general is evolving in music, and how are drummers changing?
Young: It seems like a lot of drummers are learning that they’re having to play with machines. At first I was just not into it. I was anti. In fact, I didn’t even want to record to Pro Tools when we first started doing it. I wanted to keep it organic and not piece it together, but I think once I got past that, just accepting it, there’s a lot more ways to get creative, and so, sometimes stubbornness can get in the way of creativity. If you embrace something and use it to your advantage, that’s a good thing.
DRUM!: How about you Travis?
Barker: I see a lot of rock young bands playing with DATs and stuff. It’s weird. We’ve never done that. I have an 808, but I kind of stay away from all the technology that’s going on. The only thing I really have electronically is the 808, but I don’t know that much about anything else.
DRUM!: I know you don’t want to sound cocky, but a lot of drummers are being influenced by your style right now, Travis, and pointing to you as a reference point. Why is that?
Barker: I have no idea, man! That’s a weird question for you to ask me, you know? Maybe because they can see I play drums because I love playing them and I’m just having a good time. Maybe people can see a connection with someone that’s just genuinely having fun playing their instrument, that’s someone to look for. I have no idea.
DRUM!: Okay guys, what’s the funniest movie of all time?
Barker: I think Meet The Parents. That’s like my favorite movie ever.
Young: That was a pretty funny movie. Um, Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
Barker: Yeah, that’s a pretty rad movie too.
DRUM!: Anything else guys? This is an opportunity for you guys to just say anything you want about drummers and you guys together.
Barker: For drummers, that’s why they go. I think you go there, and you watch your drummer, and you’re kind of a fan of the band, and you scope his drum set out all night. So there.
Young: The month of June it’s going to be all about having a good time. If people want to come out in the sun, and have a good time and see a couple of bands, they should come and see us.
DRUM!: I think we’re all set. All right! Guys, this was great. Anything else?
Barker: No man, I think that’s all.