If there’s one thing that people love more than a story about overcoming adversity, it’s Travis Barker. And the Blink-182 drummer has just written a memoir about all of the adversity that he’s had to overcome over the course of his life, so what’s not to like.
The book, dubbed Can I Say, is due out on October 20th, and in a Billboard interview promoting its release, Travis has opened up about his drug addiction, the plane crash that almost killed him, and the tragedy of losing his best friend, DJ AM, to a drug overdose less than a year later.
Thankfully, Travis seems to be doing pretty well now.
“I have the best support system,” he says. “I have the most amazing kids. I’m not on any medications. I haven’t seen a post-traumatic doctor in six years. I get so much love and happiness out of playing music and playing the drums and my kids.”
But it wasn’t always that way. Prior to his plane crash, Travis was a fully-fledged drug addict, and he’s traced the lowest point in his life to a time in 2004 when Blink were touring here, in Australia.
“To stay gone for three months at a time without my kids, that was hard. That led to extreme abuse,” he reflects. “But I think in Australia [in 2004], I was so addicted to Oxycodone, and I had a security that would actually sleep during the day and then stay up at night to make sure I was breathing. That was pretty pathetic.
“My bones were so brittle from so much painkiller use,” he continues. “I had this moment when I got to Europe for that tour where I really identified myself as a dumpster. And I wasn’t proud. I was scared.
“I had to call [Blink-182 bandmate] Mark [Hoppus] and say, ‘Hey, man. I’m like borderline suicidal. I’m going crazy. I need to go home.’ Like not even one show had started. I’d been there two days. I hadn’t slept one day. It was like naw, man. I need to go home and get my head right. So I think that was the most disappointing time.”
Despite a life riddled with tragedy, Travis has enjoyed his fair share of musical success. And he says that his near-death experience in the plane that came down in 2008 taught him not to take it for granted.
“I think back, and I was this little punk, someone I’m not proud of, that’s abusing pills every day and taking all this shit recreationally,” he reflects. “And then you look death in the face and you almost die in a plane crash, and then you’re actually forced to be on morphine for four months or whatever. It’s like ‘Oh, how did the tables change?’
“I went from being like that to getting out of the hospital and refusing to take pain meds home, he continues. “I was on all these crazy crazy bipolar drugs too cause I was suicidal in the hospital, masking everything from the pain of thinking, ‘Are my friends dead? Do you have to amputate my foot?’ I was completely done. It really exposed what a mess I was.
“But you know, I was already a great father. I loved my kids, but after that it was like I had a second chance at life and so much changed. There was no more drug abuse. I already spent a lot of time with my kids, but they were all I hung out with, especially afterwards.
“I was a little cuckoo for a minute too. I didn’t leave the house. I was afraid if I left the house something would fall out of the sky and hit me. I was just waiting for some ill shit to happen all the time. So I just wanted to stay cooped up in the house with them until I got to my healthy state.”
In the interview, Travis has also reflected on the grief of losing his best friend, DJ AM, to drugs.
“He was my best friend. It was beyond friendship. It was like there was only one other person in the world,” he says. “And then losing him and just wondering, ‘Fuck, is there something I could have done?’ It was like the one thing that will never stop resurfacing in my head.”
“I look at things. I see what’s important and what’s not important, and if anyone’s going through anything severe, I can honestly say that before the plane crash . . . You don’t know what it’s about. There’s very few people that go through something like that. Unless you’ve actually gone through something like that, you don’t know how it feels. I’d just see people walking through their day and they don’t realise they’ve never looked death in the face. They don’t realise how quick some unfortunate shit could happen, and usually there’s no warning.
“So I’m still looking forward, man. It’s definitely a quality I just can’t get rid of. Even in the tour bus, I wait for impact sometimes, and people are like, ‘Hey man, everything’s OK. It’s chill. Take a deep breath.’ But every day since the plane crash is another day I walked away from death. I’m very fortunate.”
Meanwhile, when Travis hasn’t been promoting his book or freaking everybody out on social media, he’s been in the studio with Mark Hoppus and new recruit, Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, working on new Blink material.