Blink-182’s Travis Barker talks ‘second chance at life,' health scares: 'As long as I'm not dead, I'm going to tour'

Lyndsey Parker
Editor-in-Chief, Music

This summer, Blink-182 will embark on a joint tour with Lil Wayne that’ll also include them playing their breakthrough album, Enema of the State, in its entirety to celebrate its 20th (yes, TWENTIETH) anniversary. It’s a tour that some fans might have feared would never happen, after Blink canceled or postponed a slew of 2018 dates, including their Las Vegas residency, due to two major health scares for beleaguered drummer Travis Barker. But Barker and his bandmates, bassist/singer Mark Hoppus and relatively new guitarist/singer Matt Skiba, never had any doubts.

“As long as I'm not dead, I think they know I'm going to tour,” Barker quips.

“I mean, I'm able to tour. I still am on blood-thinners, because I have scarred veins that are creating blood clots. But I'm touring and I'm playing drums every day, so I'm fine,” Barker assures Yahoo Entertainment. “And then I got hit by a bus… but I'm running and kind of working out again and my back's in good shape. I bounce back pretty quickly, knock on wood, but yeah, I'm good. I'm excited for this summer’s tour and everything's all good.”

Barker, 43, says that when he underwent an MRI last June, he developed a staph infection, cellulitis, nerve damage, and multiple blood clots in both arms, due to technicians sticking him “40 or 50 times with a needle, trying to find a vein.” But that wasn’t the end of Barker’s troubles. A month later, a school bus that he says was “going about 30, 40 miles per hour” collided with his Mercedes as he drove through Calabasas, Calif., with his son Landon in the car.

Travis Barker at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards. (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

“I think the biggest concern was a blood clot going to my heart, my lungs, or my brain,” Barker reveals. “And I didn't know [I had clots]. I was playing drums, hitting things, doing a lot of explosive exercising. So I had no idea until I got home, went to an emergency room, and they told me I couldn't drive anywhere and I got admitted to a hospital. So, that was how I found out. I had no idea. I just had a weird show in Vegas and I wasn't sure what was going on. And then come to find out, I had staph and about 40 to 50 blood clots in my right arm and 10 to 20 in my left arm.”

Some drummers might want to take it easy after all of this, but Barker, who notes that he’s “always gotten hurt, always been injured” and has been known to play with a broken foot or one hand, has actually been through much worse: In 2008, he was critically injured in a plane crash alongside his friend, DJ AM, and he became suicidal as a result. But today, he hasn’t lost his fighting spirit. “I just don't take no for an answer," Barker says matter-of-factly. “And unfortunately with my conditions, with my blood clots, knock on wood, if something did happen, if a blood clot did move, it's not like I'd have a chance to do anything about it, really.

“I guess from my history, the stuff I've overcome, my plane crash and stuff like that has just given me strength to overcome stuff and just really take advantage and cherish my second chance at life,” Barker continues. “When little things like this happen, I can't let them be so big or just take over my life to where I give up. I don't know, it's never been an option.”

A positive outcome of all of these injuries and tragedies is the outreach Barker gets from fans who find his survival story inspirational. “I get a lot of people that hit me up that read my book [the memoir Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums] that say, ‘I was struggling with addiction’ or ‘I was struggling with losing my mom’ or ‘I was in a horrific accident, I was also burned.’ I get a lot of burn survivors, because I had like 65 percent of my body burned in the plane crash,” Barker explains. “So I feel a lot of them reach out… I go to the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where I was in the hospital for several months, and I'll visit patients there. I'm really close with Dr. Grossman over there still. So I feel like giving back and having that communication with people that are in the burn center keeps me on track, because I was there at one point.”

Travis Barker signs copies of 'Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums.' (Photo: Getty Images)

And now, as Barker and his longtime bandmate Hoppus revisit Enema of the State, it’s a triumphant, full-circle moment. (There seriously needs to be a biopic about Blink-182; Barker suggests that his “mini-me” son could play him, while Hoppus jokes that Skiba should be played by Crispin Glover, Tom Cruise could portray ex-member Tom DeLonge, and “you know, obviously Brad Pitt for me.”)

“We've gone through band breakups and crashes and health scares and marriages and kids and divorces and everything,” Hoppus says more seriously. “So Travis is probably the closest thing that I have to a brother in the whole world. It's family at this point. It's beyond just ‘Oh, we play in a band together.’ We've kind of been there through everything together: We were in a hospital at a burn center, and we've been onstage at Madison Square Garden together. I don't think that there's much more that you can go through as a band than what we've overcome and what we've done.”

When asked if there is any irony or bittersweetness involved with singing a song titled “What's My Age Again” as grown-up men who have been through so much, Hoppus seems to reflect on his own mortality — albeit with a grin.

“It still feels the same as when I wrote it. I still feel like an idiot. Luckily, we get to do what we love for a living, and we don't really have to grow up except when it comes to being responsible parents. We kind of get license to be kids for the rest of our lives,” Hoppus says. “Although I know that when I die, it'll either be ‘What's My Age Again’ or ‘Well, I Guess This Is Growing Up’ that's going to be the title of my obituary.”

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

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