Despite his musical success, drummer Travis Barker has had a tumultuous life dealing with drug addiction, near-death experiences, and losing his mother to cancer at a young age. In 2008, he and his best friend, DJ AM, survived a plane crash that killed four other people, causing a whole new wave of issues for the star including post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts. Things got even worse when DJ AM died of a drug overdose less than a year after the airplane incident, but now, four years later, Travis tells Billboard magazine that he's doing OK: "I have the best support system. I have the most amazing kids. I'm not on any medications. I haven't seen a post-traumatic doctor in six years. I get so much love and happiness out of playing music and playing the drums and my kids."
As he prepares for the Oct. 20 release of his memoir Can I Say, Travis opened up to Billboard about the tough times he's faced and what it was really like losing his best friend. Read on for the honest quotes:
- On the aftermath of the plane crash: "I think back, and I was this little punk, someone I'm not proud of, that's abusing pills every day and taking all this sh*t recreationally. And then you look death in the face and you almost die in a plane crash, and then you're actually forced to be on morphine for four months or whatever. It's like 'Oh, how did the tables change?' I went from being like that to getting out of the hospital and refusing to take pain meds home. I was on all these crazy crazy bipolar drugs too cause I was suicidal in the hospital, masking everything from the pain of thinking, 'Are my friends dead? Do you have to amputate my foot?' I was completely done. It really exposed what a mess I was. But you know, I was already a great father. I loved my kids, but after that it was like I had a second chance at life and so much changed. There was no more drug abuse. I already spent a lot of time with my kids, but they were all I hung out with, especially afterwards. I was a little cuckoo for a minute too. I didn't leave the house. I was afraid if I left the house something would fall out of the sky and hit me. I was just waiting for some ill sh*t to happen all the time. So I just wanted to stay cooped up in the house with them until I got to my healthy state."
- On his lowest point: "To stay gone for three months at a time without my kids, that was hard. That led to extreme abuse. But I think in Australia [in 2004], I was so addicted to Oxycodone, and I had a security that would actually sleep during the day and then stay up at night to make sure I was breathing. That was pretty pathetic. My bones were so brittle from so much painkiller use. I had this moment when I got to Europe for that tour where I really identified myself as a dumpster. And I wasn't proud. I was scared. I had to call [Blink-182 member] Mark [Hoppus] and say, 'Hey, man. I'm like borderline suicidal. I'm going crazy. I need to go home.' Like not even one show had started. I'd been there two days. I hadn't slept one day. It was like naw, man. I need to go home and get my head right. So I think that was the most disappointing time."
- On losing DJ AM: "He was my best friend. It was beyond friendship. It was like there was only one other person in the world. And then losing him and just wondering, 'F*ck, is there something I could have done?' It was like the one thing that will never stop resurfacing in my head. I look at things. I see what's important and what's not important, and if anyone's going through anything severe, I can honestly say that before the plane crash . . . You don't know what it's about. There's very few people that go through something like that. Unless you've actually gone through something like that, you don't know how it feels. I'd just see people walking through their day and they don't realize they've never looked death in the face. They don't realize how quick some unfortunate sh*t could happen, and usually there's no warning. So I'm still looking forward, man. It's definitely a quality I just can't get rid of. Even in the tour bus, I wait for impact sometimes, and people are like, 'Hey man, everything's OK. It's chill. Take a deep breath.' But every day since the plane crash is another day I walked away from death. I'm very fortunate."