How to Drum Like Travis Barker (10 Tips)

Travis Barker, the legendary drummer of the American rock band Blink-182, and known to produce tracks for artists such as Avril Lavigne and Machine Gun Kelly, has left an indelible mark on the music industry. With his distinctive style, powerful technique, and infectious energy, Barker has inspired countless drummers to pick up the sticks and hone their craft.

In this article, I’ll be exploring 10 tips for emulating Travis Barker’s iconic sound and technique, complete with specific examples from Blink-182 songs and performances, as well as links to relevant resources.

To further go in-depth on how great Travis Barker is as a drummer, I suggest you check out this amazing video by Drumeo called “The Genius Of Travis Barker”.

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Drumeo also has plenty of great notations and drumless tracks for Blink 182 songs, and you can get access to them with this free 30-day trial of Drumeo. These resources are extremely helpful if you want to explore the style and sound of Travis Barker.

Playing the drums like Travis Barker might look and sound like exhausting work, but following these tips should push you in the right direction.

1: Embrace the Basics

Whenever drummers ask for tips from Travis Barker, he always points them to the basics such as practicing rudiments, doing warm-up routines, and sometimes doing some stretches. If you’d think that such an energetic drummer like Travis Barker doesn’t practice his rudiments and goes crazy on his drum set at home then you would be sorely mistaken. Make sure to put in the work on your practice pad!

Practice your rudiments

From his days playing in a marching band, rudiments form the foundation of Travis Barker’s playing, and mastering them is essential to replicating his style. Some of the rudiments that he practices are Paradiddles (Single Paradiddles, Double Paradiddles, Triple Paradiddles, and Inverted Paradiddles), Triplets, Single Strokes, and Double Strokes.

The bridge in “Going Away to College” is a good example of him putting his snare drum chops to work! 

To improve your rudiment skills, check out resources like Drumeo as they’ve got plenty of great lessons to greatly help with this. You can also check out a video of one of Travis Barker’s lesson on rudiments here!

Do your warm-ups and stretching

The great video below shows Travis Barker demonstrating his practice pad warmup. His warm-up routine consists of doing the basic 8 on a hand, Paradiddles (Singles, Doubles, Triples, and Inverted), Triplets with accents, then a blend of Single and Double Strokes.

He does some stretching including gripping his sticks near the end with both palms upright, twisting them around, and stretching them forward while simultaneously not letting go of the sticks. Be careful not to overstretch though (especially with cold muscles!)

2. Creative Tom Use

Travis Barker is known for incorporating toms into his drum parts to create unique grooves. He uses the full kit and doesn’t just use the toms for drum fills. He finds creative ways to use them and plays the toms masterfully to add a new flavor to the song. Listen to the heavy tom groove in “I Feel So” or the pre-chorus groove in “Always” to appreciate his use of the toms.

3. Focus on Syncopation

Syncopation, or playing rhythms that emphasize offbeats, can add depth and character to your grooves. Travis Barker frequently uses syncopation, such as in the intro pattern of “Adam’s Song” or the verse ride cymbal pattern in “Anthem Part 2.” For a tutorial on syncopated grooves, watch “Syncopated Funk Groove | Drum Lesson” by Mike Johnston.

4. Incorporate Extra Percussion Sounds

Travis Barker is known to utilize his kit to its fullest, and that includes parts of the kit that you never thought could be used that way. Adding cowbells, rims, and other percussion sounds can help you mimic Travis Barker’s unique sound palette. Check out his cowbell use in “Feeling This” or the rim intro in “Always.”

5. Master the Skank Beat

The skank beat, a double-time groove common in punk rock, is essential to Travis Barker’s style. He is well-known for being the master of the skank beat. Examples include the beat in “Anthem” and the drum solo in “Generational Divide.” To learn the skank beat, Drumeo did an amazing video called “5 Ways to Improve Your Punk Rock Drumming” which includes some great tips on mastering punk rock beats.

6. Develop Speed and Precision

Travis Barker’s dynamic and powerful drumming style is characterized by his exceptional speed and precision. Although he packs a substantial punch behind the kit, those with an untrained eye (and ear) might underestimate his accuracy. His ability to effortlessly blend force and precision is the culmination of years spent honing his skills, and he makes it look very easy in the process!

Use a Metronome

Your metronome is your best friend when it comes to developing your drumming. Travis Barker advocates using your metronome at all times. Just start slow and build up your speed from there, making sure as well that your precisely hitting the right spots of your drums.

Practice songs like “Cynical” and “First Date” to hone your speed and precision. For tips on playing fast, watch “Eric Moore – So You Want To Be Fast? (Drum Lesson)” by Drumeo.

Build up your stamina

Playing like Travis Barker is hard and exhausting work. So consider building up your stamina while you’re at it. One way to build up your stamina is by doing cardio and working out the different muscles that you use to play the drums with. Even Travis Barker has a workout routine, which may be why he never seems tired while performing on stage.

7. Create Memorable Drum Fills

One aspect of Travis Barker’s playing that sets him apart is his ability to craft memorable drum fills. These intricate rhythmic patterns not only showcase his technical prowess but also add flair and excitement to the music. To develop your own distinctive drum fills, check out Drumeo’s video: “7 Steps To Writing The Perfect Drum Fill“.

8. Try to be as Ambidextrous as Possible

Travis Barker’s ambidexterity stems from when he was in high school, being forced to play on a right-handed setup despite him being left-handed. His ability to comfortably use both hands in his playing, even on a right-handed setup, contributes to his unique sound. Developing ambidexterity can help you emulate his style and improve your overall drumming.

One way to strengthen your ambidexterity on your drums is by practicing open-handed drumming, as well as making sure to play rudiments with alternating leading hands.

9. Experiment with Different Genres

Travis Barker’s versatility in drumming comes from his experience playing in a marching band and collaborating with various bands and artists across different genres. From Avril Lavigne and the late DJ AM to Machine Gun Kelly and Steve Aoki, he has collaborated with different artists from old to new, further exhibiting how versatile of a drummer he is. 

Get out of your comfort zone

Some drummers just like to play the genres that they’re into and stick with that, but if you want to further develop your skills in order to be a more versatile drummer like Travis Barker then consider getting out of your comfort zone and start listening to other genres. Take some aspects of drumming from other genres and incorporate elements from each into your own playing.

Playing other genres often forces you to drum in a different way, which can open your mind to different drumming possibilities.

Tip 10: Practice Relentlessly

Consistent practice is crucial to developing the skills necessary to drum like Travis Barker. 

Travis Barker practices quite a lot! According to him, when he has tours upcoming he would practice 5 hours a day because he wants to be extremely confident with his playing so that he can just have fun while being on stage. So practicing not only makes you better at drumming but confident in your playing as well!

Utilize tools like Drumeo to improve your drumming technique and dedicate time each day to honing your craft. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Drumeo 30-Day Trial
We've teamed up with Drumeo to give you an exclusive free 30-day trial of their epic online drum lesson platform. Check out my Drumeo review to learn more.
Get Started With Drumeo


By following these 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to drumming like Travis Barker. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned drummer, incorporating elements of his style and technique into your own playing can help you unlock new creative possibilities and take your drumming to the next level.

Travis barker image credit: Carl Lender, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alan Walsh

I've been playing drums for 17 years. Drumming and producing music are the two things I love doing most. If I'm not behind my drum kit, you'll probably find me making some beats on my computer!

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