Ever since he was 4 years old, Travis Barker has only known one way to play the drums: hard.
And now, after more than 25 years of pounding the kit with reckless abandon, that style of play might have finally caught up with him.
Last month, while he was filming the video for "When Your Heart Stops Beating," the first single from his new band, Plus-44, he started feeling a dull, burning pain in his right forearm — a pain unlike anything he had ever felt before.
"I was basically playing the same song over and over again for eight to 10 hours, just playing normal, hard as f---, and during the last couple of takes, my right arm started acting up," he explained. "And it just kept hurting, like, for a week afterwards. It felt like an old skateboarding injury, but, like, incredibly worse. I kept saying, 'It's a damn broken bone.' "
But with a full slate of promotional interviews for his band's debut album, When Your Heart Stops Beating (including one with MTV News just four days after he injured his arm — see "Plus-44's Travis Barker Still Has A Lot To Say About Blink Breakup"), and an upcoming string of European shows with Plus, he decided to press on. Which was probably not the best idea.
"We were in London, doing rehearsals, and I really started feeling it. I had to go to an urgent-care doctor, because I could feel the pain in my bone, and feel my muscles and tendons tightening with pain," Barker said. "So I went to this doctor, and he couldn't read X-rays, and when he told me not to play for the next three weeks, I told him, 'You can't give me any proof.' So I played every night and iced it every night, but it just kept aching."
Upon returning home to Los Angeles earlier this week, Barker scheduled an appointment with a doctor to undergo an MRI. But rather than providing results, the scan of his forearm only raised more unsettling questions.
"After he did the MRI, we looked and the inside of one of my bones was all black, instead of white, like it should be. Which means that either I have a bunch of fractures in my bone — which, if I kept playing, would shatter — or I had a tumor inside my bone," Barker explained. "It is what it is, and I don't think there's anything I can do about it. I don't like hiding, so I figured I would come out and tell people what's up. Either it's broken, or I could have something growing inside my arm. And that sucks, but there's nothing I can do about it."
Well, there is one thing Barker can do: wait. He was fitted with a cast and instructed by his doctor not to use his right arm for the next six to eight weeks. After that time, doctors will re-examine his bone to see if everything has healed properly — or, if need be, Barker will undergo further tests to determine if the tumor in his bone is benign or malignant.
In the meantime, he's focused on two things. First, he's trying to strengthen his bones, which he said have grown weak due to his vegetarian diet. So, on doctor's orders, he's eating meat again (his first non-veg meal? A chicken taco from Wahoo's, the SoCal taco chain he has a stake in). And second, he's determined to man the kit on Plus-44's upcoming North American tour (see "Plus-44 Announce Tour Dates — For Real This Time"). Even if it means drumming with just one arm.
"I mean, back in the Blink days, I learned to play with my other foot after I broke my right foot and you couldn't even tell," he laughed (see "Blink-182 Drummer Breaks Foot In Blunder Down Under"). "I'm gonna give it a try with my left hand and a bunch of pedals. I'll just have to assign different body parts to different parts of the drums. We'll make it happen, and hopefully it will be rocking."