The most influential person in music right now is Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Don’t believe us? This year alone, 25 tracks featuring or produced by Barker have been released. He has worked with the new pop-punk era Willow Smith and TikTok e-boy turned singer Lil Huddy, signed TikTok emo Jxdn, produced Trippie Redd’s Neon Shark album, and drummed on Bebe Rexha’s new single.
In fact, Barker’s work rate means he is reaching Pharrell Williams-like levels (at one point in 2003, one survey found that 43% of all songs on US radio were produced by Williams’s production duo the Neptunes). And he is not stopping: Barker has promised a new Blink-182 album this year, and more music with Machine Gun Kelly, whose recent switch from rap to pop-punk on album Tickets to My Downfall was a collaboration with … you guessed it, Travis Barker.
Given that most trends come around every 20 years, 2021 was always going to be the year pop-punk returned. Seminal albums by Sum 41, Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, American Hi-Fi and, of course, Blink-182’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, were all released in 2001, which means a whole new generation of musicians are turning to the star for inspiration.
Part of Barker’s appeal is nostalgic: Teen Wolf actor Tyler Posey, 29, described getting Barker on his track Shut Up as “a dream come true. I’ve got Blink-182 tattoos, they’ve been my favourite band since I was a kid”. And Yungblud, 23, described working with Barker as “sick. I’m stood there with my jaw wide open, like … 13-year-old me is dead right now”.
Since joining Blink-182 in 1998, Barker has lived an extremely full life: he cheated death in a plane crash in 2008, was so depressed that he offered friends $1m to kill him, beat a prescription drug addiction, and starred in the MTV reality show Meet the Barkers. Now his kids are TikTok stars and he’s dating Kourtney Kardashian. He is everywhere you turn: on the radio, streaming playlists, TV chatshows, gossip blogs, and being boosted up your Instagram feed by the 5.6m people who liked the most recent photo of him and Kourtney kissing.
However, the biggest factor behind Barker’s ubiquity may be his inability to say no. As his collab-heavy 2011 solo album, Can a Drummer Get Some, proves, Barker is not fussy. As well as Run the Jewels, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, Yelawolf and the late XXXTentacion, he has drummed for Pink, Britney Spears and James Arthur. He even popped up on the least punk song ever: 2017’s Bad Man with Pitbull, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and R&B perv Robin Thicke. Seriously, if you’re in a pub band and your drummer calls in sick, it’s worth dropping Barker a text because the man just does not say no.