Blink-182’s Travis Barker is the archetypal modern-day superstar drummer, but the reason why he started playing his kit is a bizarre tale. He became mesmerised by the percussive instrument after a brief spell, and his favourite drummer is one of the most absurd names imaginable.
Over the last 20-years, Barker has been an omnipresent fixture in music. Watching him live is like witnessing a circus freak in action; Barker brings out all the cartwheeling tricks and makes every performance a must-see spectacle. He’s a true showman who has his eyes firmly placed on thrilling the crowd and serving up lashings of unrestrained entertainment.
It’s no surprise that Barker is an all-out impresario once you discover that the person who got him into drumming isn’t even a human but a puppet who happens to be an extraordinary talent behind a drum kit. Growing up watching The Muppets was an immeasurably affirming experience for Barker, and thanks to Animal, the percussion powerhouse, he became obsessed with the art of drumming.
“Honestly, that was my first exposure to a true drummer,” Barker told CBS Local in 2012. “That was who made me pick up the drum sticks, you know? My first drum kit was an Animal drum kit. He was amazing. And then after that was Buddy Rich.”
He added: “Of course Alex Van Halen from Van Halen was a big influence. Tommy Lee from when I was a kid from Motley Crue. Danny Carey from Tool is a good drummer. John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. That’s pretty much it. Those were my guys.”
Speaking to Drew Barrymore earlier this year, Barker confirmed that Animal was the reason he picked up a drumkit and talked about the puppet percussionist in glowing terms reminiscent of how fellow musicians would discuss John Bonham or Ginger Baker.
In 2012, the Blink-182 drummer got to make his childhood dreams a reality when he faced off against his idol in a drum-off on Jimmy Kimmel. The hilarious encounter might seem irreverent, and of course, it was in good humour, but it meant a lot to Barker.
Without the influence of The Muppets, then his life could easily have steered down another path, and Barkey might never have even picked up a drum stick.
Although it seems wild for Animal from The Muppets to be listed alongside undisputed greats like John Bonham, and Buddy Rich, he is equally essential for Barker. Animal was a gateway drug for him into the breathtaking world of drumming, and from the moment he laid eyes on the character, Barker was hooked.