Travis Barker owns a clothing line (Famous Stars and Straps), a record label (La Salle Records) and a restaurant (Wahoo's Fish Taco). He's also an avid collector of classic Cadillacs and enjoys getting tattoos. In addition to all that, he plays drums for Blink-182, Box Car Racer and the Transplants. Clearly, the guy does not enjoy downtime.
So it should come as no surprise that as soon as Blink wrapped up their U.S. tour in July, Barker was back in the studio with Rancid's Tim Armstrong and rapper Rob "SR" Ashton, laying down tracks for a second Transplants album.
"I came home and we did 12 days at Conway Studios in Los Angeles, and we wrote 22 songs," Barker said. "It was crazy, man. You know when, like, Tupac was in the studio and he's making song after song after song? The three of us haven't been in a room together in a few years, so that's what it felt like. We had so much to get out of our system."
Barker said that the songs follow in the same vein as the band's self-titled 2002 debut — plenty of nods to rockabilly, reggae and early hip-hop — but a few tracks take the band's sound in a new direction. One in particular, which Barker describes as "thug-swing-jazz," sounds like absolutely nothing on the Transplants' last record.
"If you pictured old gangsters in zoot suits, like, walking down the street, this is the music they'd be walking to. It's got a real heavy '30s-'40s thing going on," he said. "I started out playing a real heavy swing, and then just layered drums. Marching-band drums on top of snare drums, and then Tim plays guitar and takes a verse. It's crazy. I can't wait for everyone to hear it.
"But there's also some stuff that's really hip-hop-influenced," Barker continued. "There's some stuff that came out of myself and Tim and [Rancid bassist] Matt Freeman just jamming. There's also going to be some straight-up hardcore songs on there too."
Barker's drum tracks are complete, and the tapes have been turned over to Armstrong, who's currently working on arrangements and vocals in the mountains of Northern California ("He likes to go up there and chill," Barker said). While Armstrong's working, Barker will join his Blink brothers on a brief European tour that runs until December 11. Then he'll fly back to New York to put the finishing touches on the new album.
"Tim will do his guitars now and Rob will finish off his vocals in New York. Then we'll choose the 12 or 14 songs that will make the album," Barker said. "And then we'll meet with our label out there. And the album drops in March, right before we hit the Warped Tour."
In addition to playing next year's Warped Tour, Barker said that a headlining tour isn't out of the question, though it's too early to tell.
"Man, these new songs aren't ready for titles yet. And there's no title for the album yet, either," Barker laughed. "We had a meeting, and we were like, 'Yo, we need to do something.' So we updated the Transplants' Web site. That was a big accomplishment for us."