“Blink-182 is undeniably one of the most significant groups in pop-punk history. Recently, the “trio” gained quite a large amount of press attention as frontman Tom DeLonge was declared no longer a part of the band. The group are currently set to perform at the final day of the Musink festival with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba as Delonge’s replacement. You can click here to view the entire lineup and more info for the event. We recently spoke to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker about Tom DeLonge’s departure, his upcoming tattoo convention/music festival, and the future of the band. Check out Alternative Nation’s exclusive interview below.”
Since, I’m sure you’re a bit sick of explaining it, can you give the most summarized version of why and how Tom quit the band?
Travis Barker (drummer): Basically, we had shows and recording/rehearsal studios booked for the beginning of the year and the day before New Years’ Eve we got an email from Tom’s manager that said he is indefinitely taking a hiatus from the band and won’t be doing anything Blink-182 oriented for any amount of time. He said he won’t put a time frame on it. We already signed a record deal and advanced a show, so we just decided to play this one without Tom and with Matt Skiba [Alkaline Trio frontman]. That’s pretty much the jist of it.
When you heard from his manager, did this news come as a surprise or were there previous tensions between you guys?
Travis: I think this is the third time he’s quit without anyone knowing about it because we didn’t announce the other times. But this is just the last straw. It’s just not cool for the fans. He’d always agree to go on huge tours and record albums, but when it came down to going into the studio, he’d find some excuse not to. And we wouldn’t even hear from him, it would be his management. It comes to a point where you decide you’re not going to force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do and it’s time to move on.
As of now, are you on talking terms or is there bad blood between you two?
Travis: As far as I’m concerned, no bad blood from me. I wish him the best in everything he does. I think the right thing for him to do would just man up and quit the band instead of telling people he didn’t quit and just be real with the fans. I think that would give him some closure too and really do what he’s passionate about. Even amongst all the other projects I do, I can always find a way to prioritize and still be passionate about Blink-182 when it comes around. I love playing, listening, and everything about punk rock. It changed my life. I think for Tom, he doesn’t like punk music and it was a phase for him.
So you’re current touring frontman will be Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. What is your past relationship with Matt and how are the rehearsals with him going so far?
Travis: Alkaline Trio toured with Blink-182 for awhile as an opener band. We are two weeks in to practice and he’s killing it. There’s harmonies that have never been sung. He’s actually playing the guitar instead of just Pro Tools. It’s just fresh blood and having someone that’s motivated and stoked to be there makes a world of difference. In general, Skiba has a really charming voice and it couldn’t be a better fit.
And Matt Skiba will be joining you guys at the Musink festival. What can fans expect from the band at the festival?
Travis: It’s a three day festival of great music. Everyone from Rancid, Sick of it All, The Interrupters, Bad Religion, OFF!, Ignite, Yelawolf, and Prayers. And I’ll be playing both the Yelawolf and Blink-182 set. . Then there’s like 75 of the best tattoo artists coming from all around the world. A lot of people are already scheduling appointments. Last year, we had The Descendents, The Vandals, Gorilla Bisquits, Judge, and Strife. It just keeps getting better every year. I always try to take a step back and pick bands that I would be stoked to see if I was a kid coming to the event.
In terms of Blink-182’s performance at the festival, what will the setlist relatively be like?
Travis: There are songs that for whatever reason never made it on the setlist that we can play now, so you’re going to hear a lot of oldies that fans have been longing for. I think we’re rehearsed about 30 or more songs. I don’t know if we’ll play all of those because we have about an hour and a half set. We’ve been doing a couple covers too. I think we’ve practiced more than we’ve ever have.
There was a pretty large time gap between 2003’s self-titled and your most recent album, Neighborhoods. Can you discuss the writing process for that album?
Travis: That was the first album we did after getting back together and it was our first record since I had got out of the hospital. I wasn’t even healed yet when we started writing. I couldn’t even play drums like I had open wounds, but I was so motivated and excited to get back in the studio to do what I love. A lot of it was done through email like Mark and I would record in North Hollywood and Tom would record in San Diego.
Considering the situation with Blink-182 is a bit messy right now, are there any side projects or solo releases that we can expect?
Travis: Over the last couple months, I’ve been working on a new Transplants covers album were we cover everything from Cockney Rejects, Crass, and Blitz to Beastie Boys, Run-D.M.C. and Sepultura. So that will probably be finished and mixed within the next month. And then I just started on another solo album, which will be more rooted in hip hop. I just produced and played on an EP for Prayers. I don’t know how to describe them, they are their own genre, but there is a lot of elements of punk rock in there because each song is two and half minutes tops.
Blink-182 was a large component for pop-punk’s mainstream success with albums such as Enema of the State or Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Do you think the genre is on the rise or decline nowadays?
Travis: Anything that has to do with rock seems to be on the decline. There’s not a lot of rock stations or MTV anymore, you just go on Youtube. I think punk, pop-punk, and rock music is all meshed together and I think good music is good music. I don’t dislike the Descendants any more than I liked them before because they’re not popular now. I love the Descendants, the Vandals, Minor Threat, and GBH. I love all these bands because of their music and I don’t give a fuck if they’re on the incline or decline. But, I think the days of turning on MTV and seeing Blink-182 and Green Day don’t exist anymore. There is something to be said when you see people who are forty, twenty, or even twelve years old at our shows.
As a kid, what was the dream band you wanted to drum for and has that changed today?
Travis: There was a performance that I played with Slash, Flea on bass, and Ozzy Osbourne singing. Those moments feel like I could die afterwards or stop playing music and all my aspirations have been met. I’ve already achieved everything I’ve set out to do so now it’s just fun and I’m taking on each day as it comes.
There’s been a lot of versatile musicians you’ve played with. Are there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
Travis: I think Willie Nelson would be someone fun that I’d love to collaborate with. All the other ones have happened though. I worked with Run the Jewels on their album last year and at the same time Zach [de la Rocha, Rage Against the Machine vocalist] was doing a track with them. I think it’d be cool to collaborate with Zach because I’ve always liked everything he stands for and the music he’s made.
Are there any concrete plans for Blink-182 after the festival appearance with Skiba?
Travis: We’ll see. The beginning goal was to do the show because we committed to it. There’s a really great vibe and everyone’s stoked to be playing with each other. We’re definitely enjoying each other and Skiba is killing it. If we did make an album with Skiba, it would be unreal. I don’t know if that’s a possibility yet because I can’t speak for everybody. Right now it feels like the honeymoon stage. Everyone’s really happy and there’s a vibe in the rehearsal room that we haven’t had in a long time.