Travis Barker – Give the Drummer Some

written by: April 6, 2011
Release Date: March 15, 2011


Travis Barker is not a lead singer, but he is the leader. In Blink-182 he could be found behind his fellow musicians marking time, but with the release of his solo album, Give the Drummer Some, Barker is his own man. One is curious as to what a percussionist sounds like when he moves to the front. With the help of a lot of friends, the answer is pretty damn good.

Although Barker never utilizes his voice in the album, he still comes out in the music. Drummers are often the forgotten member of a band despite the fact they keep the ship afloat, and as Blink-182’s he was one of the more quiet ones. In the record studio, producers are responsible for managing the assemblage of an album, yet are often forgotten despite being an integral part of the process.

In this case Barker is both the artist and producer and hard to overlook.

His beats hold everything together with a focus on complex percussion and selective use of guitar, ambiance and synth. He uses a guest vocalist for every track; the majority of which are rap artists, but Barker pulls in a stellar line-up in both quality and quantity. Highlights include Lil’ Wayne, Lupe Fiasco, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, RZA, The Cool Kids, Busta Rhymes, Pharrel Williams, Tech N9ne and Cypress Hill. While the stacked lineup is a definite plus, the abundance of voices makes the album seem more like a compilation than the singular product of an artist. Fortunately Barker maintains consistency with his production. Complex beats fit the vocals perfectly, there are drum solos aplenty, and songs benefit with help from guitarists Tom Morello and Slash.

The song “Devils Got a Hold on Me” is a great example where the drums, production and vocals play off of each other well. The track starts with a muted solo on a snare drum and settles into a nice mid-tempo groove with a touch of hi-hat and ambient noise in the background. Rap group Slaughterhouse keeps a good flow and works around the drum break with the chorus. “Let’s Go” is another standout from the album thanks to beats that fit Busta Rhymes signature meter and flow like a glove. Fellow guests Yelawolf and Twista deserve props were keeping up the tempo and not letting the song slouch. “Knockin,” the fourth track off the album, is somewhere in between the two with a sleek mid-tempo beat that weaves around the sultry stylings of Dev, Snoop Dogg, E-40 and Ludacris.

Barker has a talent for accenting the natural flow of the vocalists he uses to make his songs unique and interesting.

“Devils Got a Hold on Me,” uses its light snare groove and dark ambience to compliment the sinister subject matter. The lyrics, “I signed a deal with my maker. Satan’s my record company,” wouldn’t be nearly effective without Barker’s deft touch. “Let’s Go” is a bigger song with a wicked guitar noodling in the background dropping jagged cords and Lil Jon acting as the hype man repeating, “Let’s go, Let’s go.” The production manages to enhance the natural energy for these artists beautifully to separate itself from the rest of the album. In “Knockin,” Barker matches Ludacris, E-40 and Snoop Dogg naturally smooth delivery with a dynamic bed of drums that rises with a touch of distortion to meet the chorus from Dev, but gets out of the way for the verse.

Though Barker put more people in front of him than there’s ever been, Give the Drummer Some is a successful solo outing. Barker maintains a consistent sound using a variety of percussion, ambiance, and additional guitar. Better yet, he manages to absorb the different idiosyncrasies of the vocalists he uses to make songs unique. The drummer may often be the forgotten member of a band, but in this case he’s impossible to forget.

Travis Barker – Give the Drummer Some Tracklist:

  1. “Can a Drummer Get Some?”
  2. “If You Want To”
  3. “Carry It”
  4. “Knockin”
  5. “Jump Down”
  6. “Devil’s Got a Hold”
  7. “Let’s Go”
  8. “Saturday Night”
  9. “Cool Head”
  10. “Raw Shit”
  11. “Just Chill”
  12. “Beat Goes On/I Play the Drums”