Integrating music, cars and tattooing into a three-day festival over the weekend of March 16 to 18 in Costa Mesa, CA, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker hosted and curated the festival Musink to honor the skateboarding and punk/hip-hop subcultures that influenced and defined Barker as one of the top drummers in the industry.
Born and raised in Fontana, Calif., the skateboarding subculture is commonly associated with punk and hip-hop, leading Barker to grow up, “listening to rap music. Like, I grew up on the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, The Pharcyde, tons of rap. Rap music was apart of my life as much as punk rock was, or rock music, or jazz whatever, it was always in my life. I grew up skateboarding, so in skateboarding videos there were no boundaries—no lines. It was like you listen to everything.”
While skateboarding and playing with local bands, Barker gained traction when he joined Laguna Beach-based band The Aquabats in 1992, and later found mainstream success as drummer for the San Diego-based band Blink-182 in 1998. Blink-182 thrived in the early 2000s collecting countless awards and nominations from Alternative Press, Billboard and MTV, and five songs peaking on Billboard’s Top 100.
With Blink-182 on hiatus in 2005, Barker began recording and touring with rap rock group the Transplants, which he joined in 2002. During that time Barker also began remixing hip-hop songs and drumming for rap group Expensive Taste, and currently collaborates with rappers like Run The Jewels and XXXTENTACION.
Following an airplane crash in 2008 that left Barker with 65 percent of his body burnt, and a haunting near-death experience, Blink-182 reunited in 2009 and continues to record and tour with the new lead singer Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio, who joined the band in 2015 and released their seventh studio album “California” in 2016.
Adding to the accomplishments of being a world-renowned musician and doting father, Barker is also a business mogul who owns clothing line Famous Stars and Straps, established in 1999, starred in MTV reality show “Meet the Barkers” from 2005-2006, is an investor of the restaurant Crossroads, the author of 2016 memoir “Can I Say,” and outspoken vegan activist.
With a strong business mindset and the pulse on skateboarding subculture, Barker recognized the culture shift in skateboarding from punk to hip-hop and has strategically kept the festival progressing with the inclusion of a hip-hop night, that included a solid lineup of Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly, Wifisfuneral and The Fever 333.
Barker elaborated on the hip-hop addition by stating that, “I feel as time goes on you see festivals like Coachella and Riot Fest, have a really diverse lineup. And I think it’s just time, and I fight for it hard for Musink. I really love having a hip-hop night. It may not be at huge as the rock nights, but it’s just awesome.”
Though still loyal to punk, Hermosa Beach punk band the Descendents lyrically and musically has inspired Barker since youth, making it a defining moment in his career to have the Descendents headline the first night of the festival.
“They’ve changed my life. They really…I don’t know…they’re just responsible for a big portion of my best years of my life. I love that band. The funny thing is that I love a lot of the bands, like I also grew up listening to Fear and the Adolescents. Like I grew up loving Strung Out,who I’m playing a song with tonight. I’ve toured with Good Charlotte and have been friends with them forever, like on Warped Tour with my other band the Transplants. The Interrupters…it’s really all friends.”
Barker continues, “I was saying in an earlier interview, the coolest thing about Musink is I’m working with my friends. From John Reese and Bill Hardy, who I did the festival with. Coming down to the cars, all friends. “
The Low and Slow Car Show within the festival displayed two rows of immaculate vehicles, ranging from a 1963 Ford Econoline Van to a Harley Vicla, all hand selected by Barker and associate Bobby Ruiz of Tribal Family.
As an avid classic Cadillac collector, Barker says the caliber of cars, “has kind of gotten out of my league. If you can believe it. I mean I love cars…I drive my cars. So there may be a chip here or there or maybe a rip in the interior. These cars are immaculate, there’s nothing wrong with them. So, me and Bobby Ruiz, whose part of Tribal Family, and a really close friend of mine for decades now, he curates the car show with me.”
With the Cadillac logo tattooed across his ribs, Barker embraces his collection of racing-inspired black and gray tattoos, as well as his new school tattoos, by placing two tattoo halls on opposing sides of the car show.
Festival attendee Amy Lagross and tattoo artist Arlo DiCristina (@arlotattoos) of Elysium Studios in Grand Junction, CO honored Barker by tattooing a black and gray photo realism portrait of the drummer on her outer thigh, incorporating Barker playing the drums and lines of music within the fade of the background, which won first place in the music category of the tattoo competition.
Between the festival’s music, cars and tattooing collaboration,”it’s been a very organic process just because it kind of involves everything I absolutely love, and I’m involved with regardless of the festival: tattoos, music, and cars. You know it just keeps getting better, which is awesome.”