Beyond Blink With (+44)
The time is only a few minutes past 10:00 in the morning, and Travis Barker has already been beating on something for the better part of an hour. All around him, the unique choreography of a video shoot is revealed: camera operators and technical crew scrambling about in search of the perfect angle; wardrobe and makeup people finessing one final spike of Mohawk; go-fers and hangers-on desperately trying to position themselves in postures of importance. Drum crew and lighting techs are illuminating his green acrylic Orange County Drum & Percussion kit to glow like radiated frog parts. Last minute adjustments over, the cavernous soundstage is momentarily silenced.
Trav, as posse and family call him, fidgets impatiently behind the set, all angles and tats. He is a barely contained frenzy. Even sitting still, he moves faster than anyone around him. A director gives the final countdown: “Three … two … one …” and a track comes blaring out of multiple monitors. The hangar-sized space resonates with the thump of Barker’s 24" bass drum and the sizzle of Zildjians. Barker immerses himself in what he is doing, both hands stretched out straight above his head in some grotesque imitation of a marching drummer. Literally rising from the stool in order to create maximum thwop, he is the modern vision of Keith Moon shaking hands with Gene Krupa. A Gene Krupa on crank.
Two minutes later and the shot is complete. The ballet has ended, and everyone stands down. Everyone except Barker. Take number 18 is coming up. The crew realigns cameras, checks light and sound, and is ready to proceed. This entire process has taken five minutes. The drummer was ready to go in two and is already antsy. His eyes imply, “Who is holding this up?” Travis Barker does not mess around.
He and his new band, (+44), are shooting the first video for their upcoming debut album, When Your Heart Stops Beating. The rest of the band is in the shot — former blink-182 bandmate/bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus and guitarists Craig Fairbaugh and Shane Gallagher — but they have little to do. He nailed this part on the first run-through, but the director needs a variety of “lock-offs” (angles) from which to choose. And unlike vocals and guitars that are always simulated on video, drums cannot be faked. So the track is cued and for the nineteenth time, twentieth, twenty-first, Barker bangs it out.
Punk Rock Pro
There are no complaints. In fact, this definitely different drummer lives for these episodes. Since he was four years old and growing up in Fontana, California, Barker has loved the drums. His mom bought him his first set when he was four years old and from that moment on, time, for him, has always been measured in beats and bars.
“Everything’s okay when I’m behind my drums,” he will later reveal from the sanctuary of his private trailer. “I don’t have a care in the world. That’s where I’m supposed to be at. It’s what I enjoy, so it’s awesome. I never think of it as work. Maybe after the eighth hour of filming this video and they’re like, ’Can you play that same part again or do that same thing with your hands?’ You’re like, ’Oh, come on.’ But it’s like, I can never, ever complain. That was my only goal as a kid, was to somehow figure out a way to play drums and make enough money to eat. So everything that happened after it, I’m just smiling ear to ear. I never expected or felt like I deserved it. I was just thankful.”
The Fontana, California native will spend nearly another hour redoing this part, bringing to the shot an intensity, focus, drama — and humility — few players would be capable of mustering. This is who Travis Barker is and always has been since first sitting behind those cymbals and snares 27 years ago.
And after all of those years of development, and finally celebrity, if any drummer is at the forefront of what might be recognized as a new movement, it is Travis Landon Barker. He has created the scaffolding for a style that combines rock drums, beats, hip-hop grooves, and electronics. DJs, R&B artists, and rappers have been increasingly looking toward rock musicians — particularly drummers — for rhythmic inspiration, and Barker has been there as a sort of touchstone. In recent months, “Bones,” Barker’s first tat and a nickname referencing his meatless frame, has played on albums with Avril Lavigne, Black Eyed Peas, Pharrell, TI, Three 6 Mafia, Pink, and Bun B. He readily admits that half of the music in his CD changer these days is either jazz or hip-hop, not rock. Within a week of blink’s final seven-year run, this Steve Gadd/Stewart Copeland groupie assembled a two-man group with DJ-AM (Nicole Richie’s ex), producing beats with marching snares, quints, and just “flipping it.”
DJ-AM talks about the collaboration. “What we do is different. It’s kind of an interactive DJ meets the drummer set. It’s about 45 minutes, and we just try our best to complement each other. Working with Travis is just fun. He's a great guy and so damn funky. When we’re rehearsing, new stuff always comes up that excited me.” That “funky new stuff” will crash headfirst into Barker’s rock riffs in providing the foundation for what would follow.
Even with these myriad side projects (not to mention heading up his own clothing line, Famous Stars And Straps, and establishing LaSalle Records, a boutique label distributed by Atlantic), this multitasker was still jonesing for some serious musical mayhem. The one-time reality TV character (2005’s Meet The Barkers followed he and now ex-wife Shanna Moakler around with a camera) fed the cravings with (+44), a quartet borne from the ashes of blink-182’s formal surrender in February 2005. Like Barker, bassist Hoppus had grown increasingly dissatisfied with blink’s singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge’s work schedule. The band’s self-described “indefinite hiatus” eventually dissolved into a “see ya later” when the rhythm section decided to move on.
A New Formula
Finally, Barker had found a vehicle in which he might stow the disparate styles with which he’d been working — all that R&B/hip-hop/DJ stuff. Here, he took this mismatched luggage and fashioned a new musical bag, one combining lethal rock grooves with badass 808 rhythms and a whole lot more.
This is not the same basher who thrashed his way through four albums (including a greatest hits) of blink’s speedy punk and pop excess. Rather, the new (+44) CD, When Your Heart Stops Beating, is a dark and edgy ride propelled by these complex, articulate, and innovative rhythms.
“In blink, everyone’s work ethic and priorities were kind of mixed up. Mark and I really wanted to record another record and then tour. At the end of the day, our other member of our band [DeLonge] had other things that were dictating where and when he went on tour and recorded a record. I have three mouths to feed as well as my family, my regular family that raised me. I can’t have someone dictating when I’m going to work and when I’m not going to work. So after that it was really a time for me to kind of like re-evaluate my whole situation, what I wanted to do, what kind of music I wanted to play, what I was passionate about, most importantly, before anything like a paycheck.
“I was like, ’I need to play my drums.’ It wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about anything. It was about me playing my drums.”
Immediately, the pair began writing down in Barker’s basement. He cobbled together a simple workstation with various keyboards and electronic drums including an Akai MPC 1000 sampler, Korg Triton workstation, and Yamaha Motif. Attempting to understand the chemistry of sequencing, actually writing and playing keyboard parts, and programming drums forced him into new areas and new ways of thinking. Add to this the presence of a newborn and the requisite quiet mandated and it was a logical move to eschew the acoustic kit in favor of the electronic one.
“Everything was kind of like electronic driven, only because we didn’t have the means to have like a big room where we could set up and record real drums. So about six months went by of recording like that, and then we got a real studio and we brought everything to life. We recorded everything; programmed drums were now live drums. Mark was even programming drums, and he was playing keyboards. It was wild.”
Barker knows wild. His performance on the (+44) album is characterized by a furious abandon, a savage recklessness tempered by the unbelievable fact that many of the drum tracks were first takes. Ultimately, what made his tracks so hypnotic was the notion of savage abandon — just reaching for a different kind of fill or tom pattern and the world be damned if he didn’t pull it off. Guitar hero Edward Van Halen describes the process as “falling down the stairs and landing on your feet.” A hardcore skateboarder, Barker knows all about falling down, wiping off the blood, and pulling yourself back up.
Orange County Drum & Percussion co-founder Daniel Jensen sums it up pretty simply.
“He likes to definitely keep on the edge of everything.”
Barker has completed the shots. Two hours of playing the same 32 bars of demanding four-on-the-floor/sixteenth-note upbeats on the hi-hats has left him only minimally fatigued. His dedication to the craft and a healthy lifestyle has paid huge dividends. Daily workouts and a regular skateboard regimen has increased stamina and dropped body fat. Serious drumhead banging. Even the assembled video crew was astounded by his seemingly endless reserves of energy.
Walking through the cavernous soundstage and being careful not to trip over the myriad coils of camera and audio cable, Barker headed back to his air-conditioned detached beauties who barely registered the presence of any passing male. But the drummer’s appearance within their midst brought an immediate response. Preening and primping, these astonishing creatures smiled and ran hands through hair in an attempt to catch his attention. Complete oblivion. Not even a sideways glance. Nothing. Absolute concentration and focus.
These are the traits Barker brings to his art, some of the qualities that make Travis, Travis. Finally seated in his temperature-controlled coach, he is temporarily sidetracked when his children — Landon, Alabama, and Atiana — howl in pleasure at daddy’s return. He cradles one of the babies who finds our Sony Pro Walkman microphone of particular interest. Barker gently removes the tiny hand and speaks about the next major step in (+44)’s development — the purchase of a studio in October 2005.
“Like I said, it was six months of sitting in my basement. Then it grew into a different monster when we got into a real studio. Mark and I went in and we bought a studio together. That was basically our home now. We lived there; we ate there; we slept there. We just kind of experimented and really kind of established our sound there.”
That sound was originally centered on ex−Get The Girl singer/guitarist Carol Heller. As the band made its way out of the electronic period into more human sounds, the punk vocalist’s inadequacies began to present themselves. Her instrumental technique was not sufficiently developed in capturing this new Barker/Hoppus sound and consequently guitarists Shane Gallagher (Nervous Return) and later Craig Fairbaugh (Fairbaugh and Barker were occasional members of The Transplants) were enlisted.
“In the beginning, we were thinking that this was a three-piece.
Originally it was Mark, myself, and our friend Carol. She was playing guitar. But at the time, it was very electronic-based. We were like, ’Maybe this is what (+44) is. Is this crazy?’ I’m thinking, ’I’m not going to sweat at all when we play. This is going to be rad. This is going to be so different.’ It was all electronic. It was really mellow, and you weren’t hearing live drums. You weren’t hearing big cymbals. You weren’t hearing distorted guitars. You were hearing everything, like templates of songs. And then when it changed, there was another voice that needed to be heard. Then there was a lot of work to be done with guitars, and I think it needed two guitar players and so did Mark.”
Songs began to take on more personality. The freedom of the studio — two main rooms fitted with a Neve console, circa 1971/1972, a ProTools rig, and a 2" tape machine — allowed for, and encouraged, a maximal amount of experimentation. Barker made the shift from electronic drums to his OCDP kit and outlines the process.
“I gave myself a click. At that point, Mark was just kind of like playing a riff, and I’d remember the riff. And I’d go, ’Okay, it’s going to be this change, and we do this accent or whatever.’ And I’d go in and record drums, like there’s drums for that song. Or sometimes Mark would have guitar parts ready, but not like all the changes or bridges or whatever. I’d just go in and I’d bang out what I would think would be my verse, my chorus, my bridge, like how I’d interpret what he is saying with his guitar. I’d listen to his parts and I’d decide whether it’s going to be 4/4, if it’s going to be double time, if I’m going to play in 3/4. That’s where you experiment; that’s where your ideas come out. I don’t ever really sit around and kind of try to dissect it or evaluate what I do. I can do a trick on my skateboard that will make me want to do something crazy on my drums. It’ll be like, ’I want to try this with my cymbal.’ It’s crazy like that; I’m inspired by everything.”
Was he motivated by the idea that drummers might be listening closely to the first (+44) album? That they might be looking at him as the spearhead of a new style of rock drumming?
“No, I never sit and think about anything [like that] to be honest. I just try to keep moving forward. Like me as a drummer, I’m always thinking like, ’There’s so much more stuff I want to learn.’ Even me, like as I started programming and producing hip-hop songs, it made me a better rock drummer. All that stuff is just a symptom of being a drummer and it all shapes you. Some people may go, ’He overplays, he hits his drums too hard,’ [but] it’s what I do.”
There is a knock on the trailer door announcing lunch. Barker spends the time alone together with his children. While the rest of the crew waded through prime rib and chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, he remained in the bus. In fact, no one would see him eat that day. About an hour later, a handler comes calling and says Trav is ready to resume our conversation. Again, there is that Zen-like focus on the subject at hand. Lunch completed, the babies are handed over to his weekend nanny, and he refocuses on the dialogue.
He begins by describing how each (+44) track on When Your Heart Stops Beating was treated as its own entity. Each song would suggest not only a specific rhythm and fills but would be more fully realized sound-wise. In concert with album engineer Christopher Holmes and his assistant, James Ingram, Barker was quite specific in describing what he heard.
“I could look at them and go, ’I want that kit for this song.’ It was worth taking the time in using like that snare drum that you picture on the song, rather than just settling with the one that’s standing there. So I believe in that. I think everything makes a track, not only the parts standing there. Not only the parts and the instruments and the lyrics and everything, but the sounds, too.”
Assistant engineer James Ingram continues the thought. “I think each song really sounds original. We really mixed and matched and made the snare sound right for each track. Mixed in with the programming that he did, I mean he really plays for the part and not just because he can play amazing fills. When he does a take, it’s not whether it was good enough; it’s whether he liked what he did or not.”
The bulk of those textures were played on Barker’s Orange County Drum & Percussion acrylic set that he describes as his “favorite-sounding drums. Period. I even put them up against my old Vistalites [Ludwig’s line of acrylics first introduced in the 1970s] and other wood drums and vintage kits.” The 24" x 22" bass is described as a “cannon” and the toms as “very warm.” Overall this is a large kit meant to push a lot of air and create a lot of whoomp.
“I just want to be able to kick the s**t on my bass drum and it be able to voice what I’m putting into it. Yeah, it’s big; it’s a big bass drum, big cymbals. I want the loudest drums ever; Orange County is the loudest. I have a [OCDP] bell brass [snare] that I’ve had with me for years, like four years. It has sweat and blood from like the last four years of my life. I’d be pissed if I ever lost that snare drum. And then Zildjians, I’m using Ks right now just because it’s kind of a darker record at times. I’m using like ride cymbals to crash on, like Sweet Rides to crash on live. Live I always tend to go to thicker cymbals, but never this big. I’ve never had like Sweet Rides that I’m using as crash cymbals. You know what I mean? But that’s what time it is onstage with this band.”
And when the hour came to finally cement drums on tape, Barker wasted no time. Though he’d spent months in preproduction, working out songs with Hoppus and the band, dabbling with electronics and honing in on drum sizes, once the red light appeared, he was ready to pounce.
Is it impatience? Maybe. Boredom? Perhaps. But more than anything it is a ravenous appetite for construction, the desire and the need to constantly feed the creative maw.
“I’m very, very impatient in the studio. I’ll walk into the room after sounds are done and whatever, I come in and do my take or whatever, and then I just kind of keep moving along. I like to be spontaneous in the studio. I feel like if you have to play something six or seven times over and over again, it wasn’t meant to be. Or if I’m trying part after part. I feel like my first part, my first initial fill I play or the way I kind of approach the track is usually how the track needs to be played. I feel like anything I do after that, I’m just kind of overplaying or I’m experimenting — why am I doing this? You know what I mean? I always trust my gut instinct. I follow my heart when it comes to recording drums. Usually it’s like the first couple takes and the sounds are there.”
Project engineer Christopher Holmes adds his consensus opinion. “The trick was to just be ready at all times to record the drums. We had the luxury of having a kit set up and miked at all times, so that was a huge help. [But] once we started it was: Push ’Record,’ and get out of the way.”
OCDP co-owner Daniel Jensen (present at the video shoot and Barker’s main drum tech) tries to explain the Barker work process. “Travis is fast-moving in the studio. He likes to have everything ready to go. He’s always warming up, he’s always practicing. He’s always sitting there with a metronome and a practice pad and a pair of sticks always going. And essentially, it’s like, ’Okay, we’re ready.’ He likes to just go in there. It’s like a boxer. The best way to describe it would be like a boxer getting ready to go into a fight, to be perfectly honest with you. I mean, it’s like he’s going, working out, practicing, just getting his cardio up. And it’s like, ’Okay, bring it on.’ And he just — boom! He gets in there, and once he gets on that kit, it’s almost like he’s in blinders. He’s just going for it. He is just in his own world.”
The results of Barker’s concentrated restlessness, this nervous energy to move forward, spill all over the When Your Heart Stops Beating CD. Drum fills cascade over one another while hi-hat and snare grooves increase in pitch and intensity in presenting a truly unique approach to rock drums. Barker may have been unconscious of the unfolding of ideas and sounds but they are there nevertheless. From the opening track, “Lycanthrope,” through the closer, “Chapter 13,” there is indeed a universe of nouveaux textures and rhythms.
There is another knock at the trailer door as he is summoned back onto the soundstage. But first, Barker wants to — needs to — describe some of the things he did.
“With ’Lycanthrope,’ in the beginning, I played really straight through that [hand-stomps a simple beat on the trailer table]. Then after hearing it, I did the accents [starts a faster-paced rhythm]. And then there was no bridge, so what we did was we made a bridge. I just kind of did fills and accented things. Then we kind of made the bridge afterwards, actually stacked guitars and kind of found a guitar part to go with the drums.
“On ’Baby, Come On,’ the first verse was actually MPC drums that I programmed on my MPC, that were real drum sounds. I sample it into my MPC, and I can play something so it sounds like I have a small boombox kit in like the first verse. And then the second verse, I’ll have still that boombox kit. There’s no hat going; it’s just kind of a basic kick going [makes kick sound]. And then I’ll go and I’ll play with my drums over it. But with me and that little loop going, it feels different. We’re like feeding off each other; we’re complementing each other. And then the choruses are just big acoustic drums. Whereas, whatever drums were recorded, live drums in the verse, it’s on a small kit so I make sure it sounds small. As soon as the chorus comes in, it’s just big drums. We did that a lot on the last blink record and on the Boxcar [Racer album, the 2002 one-off project with Barker and 182 guitarist Tom DeLonge]. I would do a pass on my verses just on a small kit with like a 20" bass drum, 12" tom, 14" floor tom, in case I used it, and 13" hi-hats. And then I’d have an alternate kit that would have like 15" hi-hats, 24" bass drum, and a 15" snare. That would be so my choruses were just so dynamic — without someone going in there and mixing anything, the drums are already bigger between verses and choruses. So we do stuff like that, too, that sonically would just kind of mess with your ears.
“And on ’Little Death,’ if I was a drummer and I heard this record, I’d probably trip on that song a lot because there’s stuff where I’m playing no ride at all. I’m just playing bass drum and snare drum, and I just kind of do like 5-stroke rolls and catch crashes on the downbeat real quick.”
Indeed, real quick is the catchphrase of the day. In fact, it is Travis Barker’s mantra. He is already thinking ahead to a nine-day tour of Europe followed by multiple dates in the U.S. His own label is scheduled to release several projects including The Transplants and The Kinison. Undoubtedly he’ll be popping up on other artists’ albums and be making regular rounds with DJ-AM.
He is summoned once again to shoot some 360-degree Steadi-Cam sequences. Some of the models are present and lounge suggestively. Still, Barker cannot be bothered. He has a job to do. Seated behind his kit, he rotates his neck and extends his arms in preparation. The day will last another four or five hours and the (+44) drummer will be in the moment for every ticking second. And long after the final tintinnabulation of his struck cymbals have faded, the repercussions of what Travis Landon Barker means to the world of cutting-edge drums will still be felt.
“When you’re not inspired, it’s your job to inspire other people. Even if you’re not a popular drummer, even if it’s your friend that plays drums, inspire him to do something new. It’s our job as drummers to do that stuff. But I think there is a lot of inspiring things. I think there’s great drummers out there. I think there’s great music all around us to be inspired by. It’s just up to us really. It’s just a matter of the ideas. That’s what’s anything is based off of, is having great ideas and a great approach and good taste.
“When I listen to the (+44) record, I honestly think it’s an emotional roller coaster. That’s what I want out of a record, I want it to take me different places, and I think the record does that. I haven’t really sat down and listened to the record as a drummer and gone, ’Would I freak out on this?’ I don’t know if I think like that anymore. I think like, ’If this song calls for it and I happen to spazz out on it and everyone likes it, great. If not, it’s okay, too.’”
Building Barker’s (+44) Drum Sounds
“We started off a little more off the beaten path, but as we progressed we used a little more standard miking stuff,” says assistant engineer James Ingram, explaining how he recorded drum tracks on the When Your Heart Stops Beating project.
This included multiple Shure SM57s on the snare, top and bottom, and 57s on the ride and hi-hat. Sennheiser MD421s as well as e604s and e904s picked up the toms. The room (Opra Music, the Barker/Hoppus studio) was miked up with a pair of Neumann U47s. “The drum room we use most of the time is real zingy, so the overheads are a little splashy,” Ingram continues. “So we set up the room mikes as knee-highs at about 15 feet off the kit to sort of minimize what was going on in the high end.”
Some of the more unorthodox approaches included the use of Gefel mikes as overheads. Additionally, veteran engineer Christopher Holmes employed DPA 4011s to change up the sound. All the percussion (bongos, Latin Percussion toys, quints, marching snares) and vocals were recorded with a Blue Bottle microphone. Holmes used the B6 capsule and had Barker record all percussion in the booth.
SPL Transient Designer gear was brought in to give the drum kit depth. Ingram says, “It helps design the transience of the room. You basically are changing the attack and release of the sound coming in. That’s what we did to make it sound bigger.”
Outboard consisted mainly of API Equalizers for the toms, hi-hat, and ride. The studio board provided 20 channels of Neve 1073 and 1066 pre’s. Neve 1081s served as EQ for kick and snare.
Holmes kept the recording as raw as possible in order to give producer Jerry Finn flexibility in the mix. He added some 60Hz on the kick drum and some 5K-7K on the snare. Additionally, he scooped out some of the low-mids in the room mikes to clear them up a bit.
“We did vary the drums sounds a bit, but it was always to serve the song,” Holmes remembers. “With that in mind we would often record verse drum parts with a tighter-sounding room with a bit more emphasis on the close mikes. Then we would go back and record the chorus parts with a bigger room sound and a more bombastic-sounding kit to make them pop.
“There are some spots on the record where we over-compressed the room mikes to tape to really give the drums a bombastic sound. One of the coolest tricks we did was on the second verse of ’No It Isn't.’ Those drums have four different effects on them. The kick is getting super-compressed, the top snare mike is getting distorted, the overheads are being flanged, and the rooms are being run through a modulation program.
“I'm so spoiled recording Trav because he's so damn good. I've done my share of sessions where I'm up until all hours creating a drum performance because the drummer couldn't quite get it. With Travis that was never a worry.”
Daniel Jensen: The Man Behind Barker’s Drums
Travis Barker’s drum tech now for six years, Orange Country Drum & Percussion co-founder/owner Daniel Jensen has been building instruments for him for nearly nine. He tells us that Barker played several sets of drums while recording When Your Heart Stops Beating — the combination of an Orange County acrylic kit, a ’50s White Marine Pearl Slingerland Radio King set (13" x 9" and 16" x 16" toms, a 22" x 14" bass drum, and a 14" x 5.5" snare drum) as well as a Roland TD20 V-drums. These were mixed and matched along with different snares including an acrylic OCDP bell brass, vintage Ludwig Black Beautys, Radio Kings, and various aluminum drums.
Jensen always fits Barker’s drums with Remo Emperor X batter heads. The toms are Smooth White Emperors on the top and Smooth White Ambassadors on the bottom. Remo P3 heads cover the front and back of the bass drum. Remo Ambassadors are on the snare bottoms, as well as a variety of PureSound snare wires ranging between 24- and 30-strands.
“And the fact that he’s hitting so hard, everything is bolted to the ground,” Jensen says. “I drill a hole for the bass drum pedal. The bass drum pedal is screwed into the riser, the hi-hat stand, everything. It’s funny because people look at him and they don’t think he’s that big. But his entire body is lunging with everything he’s got. It’s definitely necessary.”
Jensen explains how Barker’s drum gear was set up, tested, and changed rapidly during the (+44) sessions. “Literally, you’ve got to be thinking five steps ahead because it’s like, ’Oh, let’s use one of these and put that together. Let’s put it over in that room. Put those mikes on it, and let’s do it right now.’
“If he could blink his eyes and snap his fingers and all that, he would. His brain and everything is moving so quickly, and he’s so excited and enthusiastic about the project. He just wants to tear into it. There’s never a dull moment. He definitely keeps you on your toes.”
Groove Analysis: A Load Of Barker Licks
By Brad Schlueter
Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s December 2006 Issue
The prototypical turn-of-the-century punk drummer, Travis Barker came to the attention of the drumming world in his role in the massively popular band blink-182. That would have been enough for most drummers, but not Barker, who collaborated and played in side projects with Pink, Box Car Racer, and Avril Lavigne, formed a record label, and created a clothing line. His immediately identifiable image along with his often clever drumming helped set him apart from his contemporaries. Let’s take a look at some of his past work as well as a glimpse at his latest band, (+44).
“Not Now” by blink-182, b-side of “I Miss You”
Barker plays a very fast and funky tom groove to start “Not Now.” Out of that section, he plays a cool fill to set up the two-measure groove that leads into the verse. There he pares his groove down, leaving just enough bass drum notes and tasty hi-hat barks to keep it moving.
“I Feel So” from Boxcar Racer by Box Car Racer
For “I Feel So” Barker plays a clever repeating four-bar groove with the snare on beat 1, the &,/em> of 2, and 4. He plays some syncopated bass drum notes between them and uses a linear hi-hat pattern to finish the measure. In the fourth measure, he substitutes a tom and a splash for some of the hi-hat notes.
“Watch The World” from Boxcar Racer by Box Car Racer
Check out the tasty march groove that Barker plays to open “Watch The World.” It can most easily be played with an alternating sticking pattern. From there, the groove gets very creative. It sounds like Barker uses an X-hat and his main hi-hat in the middle of the pattern.
“When Your Heart Stops Beating” from When Your Heart Stops Beating by (+44)
Let’s take a look at the title track from the debut release by (+44). Barker keeps everything very simple, with the bass drum pounding quarter-notes throughout the tune. The only thing that changes is how he uses his hi-hat to affect the mood — it’s sloshy for the intro, closes for the verse, and played disco-style for the choruses.
Drum Set Diagram
DRUMS: Orange County Drum & Percussion (in Glowstick Green Acrylic)
1 24" x 22" Bass Drum
2 14" x 6.5" Modern Classic Snare Drum
3 10" x 5" Snare
4 12" x 10" Tom
5 16" x 14" Floor Tom
A 14" Mastersound Hi-Hats
B 11" K Custom Hybrid Splash
C 20" K Crash/Ride
D 22" K Ride
E 21" Brilliant Sweet Ride
F 20" Oriental Crash of Doom
Travis Barker also uses DW hardware and pedals, Zildjian sticks, Remo heads, LP percussion, and Roland electronics.