At any given time, Travis Barker has many irons in the fire. While best-known as the drummer for the popular rock band, Blink-182, Barker is constantly pursuing new ideas and collaborations.
A year ago, he launched his own record label––DTA Records––and signed new artist jxdn. Earlier this year, he collaborated with Machine Gun Kelly and produced MGK’s acclaimed new album, Tickets to My Downfall.
Recently, Barker revealed another successful collaboration––a custom Polaris Slingshot that looks like a real-life Batmobile. Barker personally designed this tricked-out whip as part of a build-off competition––Polaris Slingshot’s Best of the Builders West vs. East––that pitted DUB Publishing and Travis Barker (West) against The Auto Firm and Teyana Taylor (East).
We recently caught up with Barker to get the scoop on his new ride, what makes the West Coast the best coast for car culture, and what he’s been up to in the studio.
MJ: What have you been working on in 2020?
At the end of last year, like the day after Christmas, I got in the studio with Kels [Machine Gun Kelly] and didn’t really have a set plan. But we got in and recorded what was to become, Ticket to my Downfall. We wrapped that up right before quarantine and then just made videos during quarantine.
I primarily spent the majority of the year producing and writing music. So yeah, working with everyone from MGK, Iann Dior, POORSTACY and signing my own artist, Jxdn, to DTA records. So I’ve just been really focused on writing and producing.
MJ: 2020 has been such a difficult year. But what has it been like to mostly just focus on writing and being in the studio?
I’m really sad for the people who have gotten sick and unfortunately the people we’ve lost. Thankfully, my family, my kids and my friends have been healthy. But for me being home, I’ve been able to do things I’ve never been able to do, because I’ve toured for the last 20 years of my life, every summer.
So I’ve got to do things I have never dreamed of or imagined, just from being home. It’s been really incredible. Writing and producing is something I’m always passionate about, but time usually permits me to only do it with the band I’m playing in.
I miss playing shows and just like, the energy. But I also love the creative part of being a musician. Writing music and challenging yourself production-wise to make things sound different––that really keeps me going. It moves me.
MJ: Beyond music, we know you’re also a big car guy and have your own collection. Where did this passion for collecting cars come from?
I think the passion came from my pops. My dad always liked to talk about old cars that he had or reminisce about cars he wanted. So when I started making a little money, I would buy a lot of old-schools for fairly cheap and just fix them up. I guess that’s where it started.
As time went on, I saw brand new cars that I loved and just everything from off-road 4×4 vehicles to low riders to luxurious cars. I’ve kind of had them all. And it’s definitely something that I’m still really passionate about.
MJ: When you were asked to customize a Polaris Slingshot for this West v. East Build-Off, how’d you come up with the concept for your ride?
Right now, I’ve basically focused on having all black cars, for whatever reason. I can’t really explain why, it’s just something that came to me one day and I was like, ‘I don’t want any car unless it’s black.’ So that’s kind of why I did the Polaris all black and murdered out.
I was like, how do I make the Slingshot as cool as it could possibly be. And I just think murdering one out, but still having these details when you really get up on it, like, ‘Oh, cool. I see gun shell print on that. Or I see there’s matte on there, but there’s also glossy black.
When I first came to Myles [Kovacs], who I’ve known from DUB and is a dear friend of mine, he was like, ‘Oh I’m thinking we go with this burgundy/maroon.’ And I was like, ‘No man, that’s not me. But we can murder it out.’
It had to look like a villain’s car.
MJ: Tell us about a couple of your favorite features that you customized on your Slingshot?
There’s some aftermarket speakers on it and we redid the interior. We shaved parts of the body off and added places for speakers on the body. We finished the interior to where everything wraps around and customized it with my “F” badge (Barker’s clothing brand, Famous Stars and Straps). We made it kind of luxurious inside.
We also put the biggest tires and rims we could possibly fit on there––I think they’re 22s. And also an air ride suspension, just so you could dump it when you’re parked.
We also wanted to be creative with the type of pattern used. I think I proposed like a cheetah pattern and there was another pattern I proposed. But this gun shell print was hard and it just stuck out. We’ve never seen that on another vehicle.
MJ: Is that Slingshot eventually headed to your car collection?
Yeah, that’s definitely going in my collection.
MJ: How large is your collection nowadays?
Right now I have eight [cars] but I used to have 16. I had 16 at the beginning of last year and I was just in a place where some of the cars––I felt I already had my time with them. I’ve experienced everything I could with this car and I’ve had the greatest times, but it’s time to move on and, you know, let someone else enjoy it.
I don’t really have what’s called, trailer queens––where you just trailer it to shows. I drive everything.
MJ: Which is your favorite car to drive now?
One car that is a lot of fun is the Mercedes G-Wagon 4×4 Squared. They only made it for two years, but people come up to me all the time at gas stations like, ‘Whoa, man, what lift kit is that?’ But it’s not actually, it comes stock from Mercedes. I didn’t do any aftermarket suspension on it myself.
That’s one of my favorites and I’ll probably never give up. It’s a special vehicle.
MJ: What does West Coast style, in terms of car culture, mean to you?
I feel like West Coast, we get to have a little bit more fun with cars. Like I’ve spent time in New York and a lot of people don’t have customized cars or own their cars at all, for that matter. You’re usually driven around or you take taxis.
Whereas West Coast lifestyle is low-riders, Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Jeep’s. You know, we love to drive in Southern California. It doesn’t get so cold that we could never whip out our convertible and go down Sunset with the top down.
So I just really feel like West Coast is car culture.
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