Landon Barker is following in dad Travis’ pop-punk footsteps, signing to the Blink-182 drummer’s Elektra imprint DTA Records and releasing his debut single, “Friends With Your Ex.”
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a kid, since I was probably 8 or 10 years old,” Barker, now 19, tells Variety. “Just watching my dad perform, I’ve always been inspired and wanted to be up on stage and move people with music of my own.”
Travis Barker provided drums and production on the upbeat “Friends With Your Ex,” which clocks in at just under two minutes and chronicles what Barker calls “a messed up little love story.” “I was friends with your ex/ You were with him when we met,” Barker croons over the song’s driving chorus. “Guess he hasn’t found out yet/ But I know he’s gonna kill me when he sees me with you.”
Barker’s girlfriend, Charli D’Amelio, stars in the song’s music video, and there’s already been speculation that Barker wrote the song about the TikTok queen and her ex-boyfriend, fellow pop-punk revivalist Chase Hudson aka Huddy.
“I originally got the idea to write the song just based on life and what I was going through,” Barker says, adding later: “I mean, take it how you want it, you know?”
Barker penned the track with producer and frequent Machine Gun Kelly collaborator Nick Long at the beginning of the year, but he’s been working on his own music in the studio for around four years now. In fact, Barker featured on Kelly’s “Die in California” last year, which came about while the two were recording in opposite studios.
“I was in the studio and he was recording with my dad in the other room,” Barker says of Kelly. “He walked in for a second and put down a little vocal track on how he would sing [‘Die in California’] if he was singing it, and I kept it in there and just posted it on TikTok — almost like something that I shouldn’t have done. Honestly, I don’t think I would be in the position I’m currently in right now if it wasn’t for ‘Die in California.’”
Of course, Barker grew up heavily influenced by his dad, who stoked his love of music early on by introducing him to bands like Green Day and Twenty One Pilots. Barker opted to sign with DTA because, as he puts it, “Who doesn’t want to work with their family?” But he’s aware of the potential criticism surrounding the decision.
“I mean, if the song’s incredible everyone’s going to be like, ‘It’s because he got help from his dad.’ If the song’s horrible, everybody’s going to be like, ‘He’s not as good as his dad,’” Barker says. “So I just take the internet with a grain of salt, try not to look too far into the comments and look for the people who are really moved by my music and interested in it, and want to see what I can do for myself, as myself.”
And though “Friends With Your Ex” definitely leans into Barker’s pop-punk DNA, that’s not necessarily the lane he wants to stay in.
“It’s funny, even going into sessions when I’m not trying to make a pop-punk song, still the melodies end up being kind of pop-punky,” Barker says. “I think it’s a good way to get my name out right away and show people who I am as an artist. And then I plan to go more into the pop direction, but I wanted to show everyone that I can do this first, you know?”
Barker says he has a few more singles up his sleeve — but until then, he’s psyched to perform his new music live at the El Rey in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, which also happens to be his 20th birthday. “I feel so comfortable and free and happy,” Barker says of being on stage. “It’s like a serotonin rush that only some people are ever going to get to feel.”
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