As a musician, I think it’s important to have role models, someone that embodies all that you want to achieve as a musician. This isn’t just for rockstars, but anyone who’s ever taken up an instrument, whether it’s a guitar or a tuba, and anything in between. You have to have goals, and what better goal is there than to be able to perform like someone you really admire? Many of us may never get to that level, but it’s something worth striving for. It’s better to aspire to be something than to give up and amount to nothing. In my case, there are a couple of musicians that are the epitome of what I want to be in a musician.
Drums were my first love, and it makes sense that Travis Barker is someone I look up to in the percussive arts. From my perspective, he’s always been an amazing drummer, but I think others may recognize him more as a pop culture personality (due to TV, hip-hop side projects and his infamous plane crash). While Travis exhibits a lot of personality both in the entertainment industry and the internet (especially Twitter), it’s his stone-faced stoicism and perceived ease behind a drumset that really astonishes. Nothing seems difficult to him when he’s got a stick in each hand, and his ridiculous precision adds to the prestige. I’ve witnessed Travis Barker live with +44, Boxcar Racer, and Blink-182 seven times over the last 12 years, as well as countless hours of Youtube videos and televised footage.
So why do I idolize him? First and foremost, he’s broken barriers to avoid being typecasted as a “punk drummer”. He has roots in jazz, hip-hop and marching percussion. He doesn’t play the same beat song after song. As a drummer, I can respect how difficult it can be to think outside the 4/4 rhythm box and do all that you can to make a drum part interesting to listen to. Travis crams all the beats he can into what little space he’s given. His arms are a blur and he punishes his drums with over-exaggerated strikes. He’s as fun to watch as he is to listen to, and his limits seem non-existent. With every new album he’s a part of, I become amazed at the rhythms he creates in place of what could have been a standard, lazy drum beat. Travis Barker has helped to elevate the role of drummers in modern rock music. No longer are we the obscured, metronomic robots in the background. Now drummers can frost the musical cake just as impressively as a talented guitarist or vocalist.
Like Dave Grohl, the drums are my roots, my humble beginnings. But also like Dave Grohl, it wasn’t long before I wanted to spread my wings and learn more and more about rock music. Dave went from iconic drummer of Nirvana to iconic frontman of Foo Fighters. He’s a hard worker and an accomplished rocker, being prominently involved in the rock scene over the course of two decades without pause. Even his work in Queens of the Stoneage deserves to be more than just a footnote. He embodies rock music and does it with bravado and grace. Dave Grohl has kicked people out of concerts for being too disruptive to other fans. He’s all but condemned modern alternative bands for relying too heavily on computers, autotuning and effects. He’s all about the raw sound of rock and roll, and he’s 100% correct as far as I’m concerned.
So why do I idolize him? On top of everything that Dave Grohl has accomplished or been involved in, he’s a stand up guy. Not only is his music catchy, but you catch a positively friendly vibe from him whether your watching an interview or standing before him in the crowd. He likes to tell you stories and just feels like he’d be up for a backyard barbecue with you any time. Charisma aside, he’s an incredible musician. As if his prowess on the drumset and guitar wasn’t enough, he has an incredible and durable voice. I witnessed the Foo Fighters play a 2½ hour show without a break. Dave will be the first to tell you “Oh great, another song where I have to scream”, but all joking aside, he can do it well and with unwavering power. What I couldn’t give to just have a beer and chat with Dave Grohl…