Warped Vs. Warped

“No one out here is better than anyone else. We’re playing the same half-hour set as a band who’s been together for a year and doesn’t have a record deal. That’s cool.”
Travis Barker, Transplants/Blink-182 drummer

The Transplants - Get In The Van

I went to the first Warped Tour. It was so rad. That was my only dream,” says Travis Barker, former drummer of pop-punk megastars Blink-182 and current beat-master for Warped main stagers the Transplants. It may be hard to imagine the MTV star as a lowly punk kid anonymously wrecking the pit ten years ago, but Transplants are a band of lowly punk kids. The pet project of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and former Rancid/AFI roadie Rob Aston, the group have just released Haunted Cities, their second full-length album, as much to the surprise of the band as anyone else.

“There was never gonna be a record. This was never going to be a band,” says Aston, the group’s lead vocalist. “It was just me and Tim fucking around.” What resulted from a few basement recordings and the recruitment of Barker was the genre-busting Transplants, a motlov cocktail of punk, hip-hop, hardcore, and everything in between. Despite the high-profile commitments of Armstrong and Barker, the band developed its own reputation for Aston’s dark lyrical style and the musical menagerie that backed him.

“Once we decided to be a real band, we’ve always been a real band. We never treated it like a side project,” Aston says. Still, the band’s unique touring schedule has put them in a different position than most.

“We don’t really conduct ourselves like a normal band you’d see on the road still touring their first record, totally pissed. That’s not us,” Barker says. “We maybe played 20 shows on our first record.” As the band get themselves into the groove of playing nearly every day for two months straight, the change in Aston’s world is apparent, as he moves from the back of the stage to the very front.

“I never really had aspirations of being in a band. I was happy just going out on the road and working for bands,” he says. “When you’re working tech at Warped Tour, you’re basically working all day long. You’re in the sun, you’re sweating, and it’s hard work. I don’t know if I’d do it again.” That said, it’s unlikely that the trappings of a double-bus tour will bring about a total sea change in Aston, who has frequently been spotted by others on the tour helping to set up his merch tent, something bigger bands rarely bother with.

“I started out in a van with the Aquabats,” Barker says, happily recalling his masked former self. “We had 13 people in a ten-passenger van. I’ve done everything, from that to playing arenas with Blink.” While Transplants fall somewhere in the middle, it is good to know that for the members of the band, their goals were attainted a long time ago. Everything else, as Barker says, is just a bonus, adding, “I could go back to the van and still be happy.”

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