"Sometimes when I’m playing, I scrape my knuckles raw and bleed all over my drum kit. This design is based on my own blood splatter..." So reads the inner sleeve of Travis Barker's autobiography, and it’s a perfect indication of what’s to come in this stripped to the bones tale of the world’s first superstar drummer.
Co-written by Gavin Edwards, well-known author of pop culture biographies and contributor for Rolling Stone and The New York Times, Living Large, Cheating Death and Drums, Drums, Drums is a rock n roll rollercoaster of epic proportions, inviting us into Travis’ world as he bares his soul for all to see.
With testimonials from people who played a part in building the man - his sister Tamara, dad Randy, and Blink-182 band mates Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge to name but a few, Travis has succeeded in giving a voice to those who played a key part in his life, many of whom are often unheard but able to shed so much light on the man behind the rock star. The fantastic conversational tone of his book gives the reader a feeling of being invited to pull up a chair to listen to Travis talk about his life, and rather than relying solely on facts, days and dates, there’s something of a personal journal feel to this autobiography.
Extract from Can I Say by Travis Barker (Pages 123-124)
We had an awesome producer, Jerry Finn, who was just a few years older than us. Jerry was usually wearing a Replacements T-shirt and Vans sneakers. He had worked with Green Day, Jawbreaker, and a bunch of bands on Epitaph Records, including Rancid and Pennywise. Jerry wasn't some asshole rolling up to the studio in a Bentley - he was one of us. He could be honest with us, and we would listen to him, which is really important. These days, "producer" means "I'm going to write some songs for you." He didn't do that - he was more about giving us ideas and lending an extra set of ears. He'd say, "Hey, that sounds cool - why doesn't that part at the end go a little longer?" Or "What if this song had an intro?" Jerry hated my snare drum, because it was always tuned too high for him (like a marching snare). But what he hated most of all were vibraslaps: that's a percussion instrument with a wooden ball attached to a box with pieces of metal inside. It makes a distinctive crashing sound. You hear it in a lot of Latin music, and it's all over "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne. It became a running joke between the two of us: I would keep trying to sneak in a vibraslap, and he would get irate.
We called the album Enema of the State. (At the time, Tom was worried about his diet, so he was experimenting with enemas.) Soon after we handed it in to MCA, our record label, they freaked out and told us it was going to be huge: we would be going platinum and playing arenas around the world. We all laughed it off - that just seemed ludicrous. I told myself it was going to sell horribly - I figured that way, if it did well, I'd be extra stoked. The first thing we had to do after finishing the album was to film a video for "What's My Age Again?" The directors, Marcos Siega and Brandon PeQueen, had found out that sometimes we stripped down onstage. I would get hot, so I would play in my boxers. Sometimes Mark would take off all his clothes and put his bass over his junk. So we got the word: We want you guys to do the video in the nude. A week later, we were running down Third Street in Los Angeles naked. People kept staring at us and honking their horns. This went on for about fifteen hours - between shots, we would put some clothes back on, but then we'd have to take them off again. The directors kept shouting, "Derobe!". When there were kids around, they gave us some skin-colored Speedos, but those weren't much more flattering than just being buck naked.
A tale told in words and pictures, this book gives the man on the drums a chance to move into the spotlight, sharing personal photographs, memories and insights into his childhood, friendships and marriages, the stories beyond the headlines, and the birth of his children and the huge impact they’ve had on his life. As with all life stories, it hasn’t all been moonlight and roses for Travis, and this book isn’t afraid to chronicle the darker side of the music business, with Travis pulling no punches when he talks about his issues with substance abuse over the years.
Perhaps one of the most emotive parts of Living Large, Cheating Death and Drums, Drums, Drums, focuses on the air crash that so very nearly stole Travis away from his family, friends and fans. From his memories of the horror to the after effects and the changes Travis made after that fateful incident, this section is beautifully written, both poignant and emotional, bringing the fear and desperation to life in bleak retrospective.
Charting his meteoric rise to fame from humble beginnings to becoming the man responsible for providing the backbone for some of the biggest pop/punk hits the world has ever known, Living Large, Cheating Death and Drums, Drums, Drums is an essential read for any fan of Blink-182. Often humorous, always brutally honest, and all done in the inimitably eloquent tone of Travis Barker, you know the legend now get to know the man behind it.