Sound and Driven: A Look Behind Episode One with Travis Barker and KennyHoopla

Words by Antony Crook
Photography by Jesse Lirola

Back in the day the best place for artists and producers to listen to their just-finished album was in the car. Not only were a car’s acoustics best for playback; the 4-wheel setting meant that artists and producers had an intimate space to be the first to hear the completed record before anyone else. It’s this experience that inspired Sound and Driven, a brand new series brought to you by MARVIN and Porsche. We’re bringing together innovative collaborators, producers and musicians to drive the brand new Porsche Taycan while we film them hearing their music and listen in on the conversations they have about it as they motor around LA.

Our first episode features punk rock legend Travis Barker alongside his protégé KennyHoopla as they talk about how they made tracks like “estella//”, “hollywood sucks//” and the whole KennyHoopla Survivor’s Guilt: The Mixtape record. After our filming we caught up with Travis to talk collaborating, drumming and Kenny.

When did you decide to work with Kenny?

I loved Kenny’s music from the first time I heard it. He had hit me up and was like, “I’m going to be in LA on this day.” So I said, “perfect, why don’t you come through at what- ever, six or seven [pm] for a few hours and we’ll just hang.” And we ended up linking for two to three hours one night. We wrote “estella//” from beginning to end – the song was complete – from like 7pm till 10pm. We did a song the first time we hung out and that was “estella//” and from there it was just like, magical.

If you could see yourself in your twenties like Kenny’s age now, what would you say to your 23-year-old self?

I wouldn’t change a thing. Everything was perfect. I feel like with what I did when I was 23…I started touring when I was 19, started playing in punk bands, traveling the world in a van with a bunch of other kids that loved punk rock music. And that’s all I knew. How was I to know any better? And I did exactly what I should have. I couldn’t think of a better genre of music or movement to come from than punk rock. It’s the best thing ever. I think Kenny is – he’s a unique artist. He’s really unique. In a time where music is kind of filtered or watered down, there’s an artist like Kenny that means every word he says. And he’s so adamant about writing every lyric and the feeling or the emotion that a song brings him. That’s just – he’s – Kenny is special.

Did the The Mixtape turn out how you thought it would?

The Mixtape was exactly how I envisioned it. There were actually a couple songs that were undoubtable singles, like radio singles, that Kenny didn’t want on The Mixtape. He wanted it to not be looked at like a project that had singles, and made sure people knew we weren’t worried about radio, streams or videos. We were like “hollywood sucks//” will be kind of the “street single.” But he wanted to leave the obvious singles off of this project so it could be more of a musical body of work. I respected that. I listen to the artist 100%. My goal and my job is to make them happy. Sometimes there would be a song that would be so structured that it could be a hit single and he would be like, “after the first verse I want to hold that part of the song and I don’t want the chorus to ever come back in.” Cool. I like that too. I like experimenting and taking the artist and the listener on a journey. With Kenny that was my job: to execute and find that sound for him. So with that being said, I don’t feel like another artist will make a body of work like this.

When we were recording Sound and Driven you said, “your dreams don’t work unless you do.”

Yeah. Because I feel like so many people sit back waiting for something to happen. That’s not a reality. You have to manifest it. You have to make it happen. You have to work or be creative for those thousands of hours. And you have to make it happen. I don’t feel like anything is luck. You’ve got to think it. You’ve got to live it. You’ve got to eat, sleep, breathe it until it does happen. You can’t accept no; that’s not an option. I do not take no [for an answer]. If I want something, I’m going to get it. I’m going to figure it out. Whether it’s the sound of a song– I’m obviously a drummer, I love playing drums and it’s my instrument whatever I envision in my head I can execute through my body and through my hands but–things like piano, guitar or bass? I’ll come in an hour early just because I know what I hear and I just have to figure it out. So stuff like that. You figure out what you don’t know. It’s like a puzzle.

If you’re feeling a certain way and you create a piece of music that deals with it, does it make you feel better? Is it almost like therapy?

One hundred percent writing about it or talking about it in a song is the same thing. It gives you the same satisfaction and weight lifted off your chest where you’re like, “I got that out.” And it’s in the form of a song where everyone can listen to it; they can interpret it however they want and it can also be used as a tool for them.

What are you thinking about when you’re drumming?

Absolutely nothing—laughter—if I’m thinking, it’s bad. Mind you, two things: when there’s something wrong—and I don’t like a perfect environment or situation during shows—I want to be challenged. I want to either: first song I’m bleeding or some- thing’s wrong with the cymbals. Falling. I love adversity. I love a challenge. Then there’s times where everything’s perfect and it’s a Blink show and you’re in front of like 70,000 people at a festival and the goal is not to be thinking at all. And I’m just in a zone. I’m in a whole other planet. But there’s times where I’m like, “oh, shit. I’m think- ing!” I’m thinking about the part that’s coming up. I’m like eye contact with the fan in the front row. I see someone at the side of the stage. I do not want that. I do not want that at all. I want to be zoned out. And then I just have to try to get out of being – it’s not being present really. And I like just being present. My body’s just moving. I’m not even sure what’s happening and my arms just know what to do.

To get the full episode of Sound and Driven with Travis Barker and KennyHoopla tune in to @marvin_thebrand and @porsche