Though you would never suspect it from his heavily inked torso and past punk projects, former Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's dream is to wind up as the Buddy Rich-like leader of a great jazz big band.
"Ever since I started playing music, I had this idea of what I want to do, and it was to graduate to playing in a jazz big band, because that's what I started playing [in] when I first learned drums," said Barker, 32, of where he wants to be at age 50.
But for now, with his rock band (+44) in a holding pattern, the propeller-armed drummer has his head firmly planted in the hip-hop world. Barker recently released his latest home-brewed viral-sensation hip-hop remix video, a grainy clip for the Flo Rida smash "Low." Like last year's pounding video remake of Soulja Boy's "Crank That," a single-shot clip of Barker mercilessly beating the skins along to the bubble-gum ringtone hit that has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube, the "Low" remix is as raw as it gets.
"Either an artist comes to me, or I'll approach an artist with a single I like and I feel I can do something with," said Barker of his MO when remixing rap tunes. His remixes typically include heavy rock guitars and keyboards laid over his dinosaur-stomp beats and cascade of cymbal crashes. "The video is really just the recording process for the remix, and the Soulja Boy one is the actual take of that recording. I just thought people would be interested in seeing how it was done, and I never thought it would get as crazy as it has." Since being posted earlier this week, the "Low" video has already racked up more than 300,000 views.
With the Flo Rida video just starting to gain traction, Barker has already staked out the next song he might rework: "Haterz," from Atlanta's B.O.B. Like the Soulja Boy remix, it will likely end up as an iTunes exclusive download at some point.
Barker has done similar remixes (without the low-budget videos) for Pharrell ("Can I Have It Like That"), Rihanna ("Umbrella") and Rich Boy ("Throw Some D's"), and he said his method is pretty simple: "When I flip something, it's usually a song where you love the original, but you say, 'Man, it could be this, or it could have a wall of guitars here and bass drops here,' and that's what I do," he said.
Barker recently performed the Soulja Boy remix with the rapper on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and he said he likes to do at least one performance with each of his subjects if he can, but he's got much bigger plans for the future than just one-off shows. Among his many projects currently percolating is a remix album he hopes to have done by the end of the year and that would include his most famous work. It would also feature some new songs he is creating by going into the library of a major label (he can't say which one yet) and getting his hands on some instrumentals and a cappella tracks of classic tunes. His dream is to pair those remakes with a litany of songs he's currently sitting on, including new tracks he has recorded with Young Dro, Too Short, the Federation, E-40 and Keak Da Sneak.
When we caught up with Barker, he was, literally, in two places at once in his home studio. In one room he was producing songs for the "sick" new album from gutter-punk rapper Mickey Avalon, and in the other he was recording a cover of the Adolescents' "Amoeba" with former Blink partner — and (+44) bandmate — Mark Hoppus for inclusion on an upcoming Vans Warped Tour compilation. And though label issues scuttled his planned album-length collaboration with grill-master Paul Wall on their Expensive Taste side project, Barker is also producing some songs for Wall's yet-untitled upcoming album.
"I'm just doing what I love," said Barker. "But it's definitely flattering to see how many people have watched the videos. It's cool."