As the premier festival bringing together the best of music, tattoos, and cars, Travis Barker’s MUSINK, presented by KROQ, returns in 2018 to the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.
The 11th annual event is set to take place Friday, March 16th through the 18th. The lineup feature hundreds of world-renowned tattoo artists, music performances from top rock, punk and hip-hop artists including blink-182, The Descendents, Lil Yachty, Good Charlotte, Machine Gun Kelly, Fear and more. The Low ‘N’ Slow Car Show will also take place all weekend.
The festival will also feature daily tattoo contests, a vendor village, and the Miss MUSINK competition at one of the world’s biggest gatherings of elite tattoo artists.
We had a chance to speak with Barker as he prepares for this year’s edition. The drummer and producer spoke on creating a unique festival, his musical influences, studio collaborations, and new personal projects in 2018.
OC Weekly (Michael Silver): Looking back at past lineups, it’s always been a mixture of genres and eras. Is it difficult making a list of artists you want when planning the festival?
Travis Barker: It is and it isn’t. The biggest challenge is not to have the same people play every year, diversify. Last year was a really straight up punk rock event and this year I wanted to incorporate more hip-hop into it. I feel like every other year I try to throw a curveball and have other types of genres in there.
For a music or ink fan that’s never been before, how would you describe the vibe and scene over the three days at the OC Fairgrounds?
We are the only music and tattoo festival that happens in California. It’s three days of some of your favorite bands, tattoo artists, and a bunch of cool cars and motorcycles.
What do you think the connection is between punk rock, hip-hop, metal and the art world of tattoos?
Nowadays if you hit the mute button on any video and looked at the crowd from a punk rock show or hip-hop shows it’s basically exactly alike. I know rap kids that go to hardcore shows now. It’s very much the same with mosh pits, stage diving, and a rebelliousness. There’s a lot of similar vibes between punk rock and hip-hop for many years dating back to Black Flag and Public Enemy.
As far as tattoos, punk rock has always had crowds tatted up and now hip-hop shows have kids with tattoos on their faces. They both go hand-in-hand, as genres of music that most people that listen to it are heavily tattooed. Cars were the last things we added to MUSINK, when I got involved I thought it would be something cool. They’re pieces of art and some take five or so years to build. It’s beautiful you know? This year we switched it up a little bit where we have more motorcycles, but we still have low riders, hot rods, customs, it’s all over the place.
This year’s lineup is diverse, starting with Friday featuring punk legends all hailing from SoCal. Do you personally reach out asking each band to play?
Most of them, yes. The Descendents are one of my all-time favorite bands ever. Adolescents and Fear, I mean how can you not love them? I grew up on them; Strung Out as well.
Saturday has The Interrupters, the greatest ska punk band to come out of anywhere. Southern California, the United States, the world, I think really as far as new ska bands there’s no one that even comes close to them. Good Charlotte are good friends of ours and part of our genre, and of course Blink.
On the final day we have Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly, Wifisfuneral and The Fever, which is a band that I produce with John Feldman. They’re album comes out this month right after MUSINK. They’re just mind-blowing. Feldman and me wrote and produced the record with the singer Jason and he’s amazing. I wouldn’t want to play after them, one of the most energetic front men and I feel like The Fever are really going to change things, putting a stamp on rock music again.
Saturday has your group Blink-182 headlining. The last time you guys played the festival was 2015. It’s been six months since your last show in the U.S. Was this necessary time off or a good opportunity to play for the home crowd?
Yeah we went so hard last year, we did so much touring. When we got home I think everyone was ready for time off and I had other commitments in studio projects. Now we’re playing a couple shows this year, there will be more announced right after MUSINK and then we’ll be right back in the studio recording again. I can’t wait!
I remember seeing you play in 2011 at the Honda Center with Mix Master Mike and Yelawolf, on Lil Wayne’s tour. Where did your passion for hip-hop come from?
I grew up listening to hip-hop like the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, Public Enemy and The Pharcyde, It’s always been something I loved and a weird thing because people would be like ‘There’s not even real drums in it, why do you listen to it?’ and I was obsessed with the beats, programming, and the message. I loved it as a kid and I never let go of that. I grew up confused, loving metal, punk rock, and rap music.
The last day of your festival shows a lot of love to hip-hop with Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly, and Wifisfuneral. Are you friends with these guys? Any chance you’ll get on stage with them or any of the other bands during the weekend?
I have a song on my second solo album that I’ll drop this year with Yachty, he’s a friend and really great. MGK, I believe his live performances are next level. He doesn’t get enough credit for it as a front man and his band is good. I usually play one or two songs with The Fever so everyone needs to get there early for their set on Sunday, you don’t want to miss that.
Talk to me about the Low ‘N’ Slow Car Show. What’s your favorite car to drive?
Anything old, I find when I’m in an old car I’m not worried about listening to the stereo, how hot or cold I am or the GPS. I just love old cars. One of my favorites I have is a 1953 Chevy truck that I drive a lot. I love everything about them except the constant problems that you incur with having an old car (laughs).
You kind of touched on this earlier saying there’s a new solo project coming out. Do you know roughly when and does it have a title?
I don’t know when and I don’t have a title but it’s coming. I’m just waiting for a couple verses from people. I’m actually waiting for a Kendrick (Lamar) verse right now, which is really important so I’m kind of on Kendrick’s time.
Lineup for each day:
Friday, March 16 – The Descendents, Fear, Strung Out, The Adolescents
Saturday, March 17 – blink-182, Good Charlotte, The Interrupters
Sunday, March 18 – Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly, Wifisfuneral, The Fever 333
The list of participating tattoo artists includes Jack Rudy, Robert Atkinson, Black Anchor Collective, Franco Vescovi, Baba, True Tattoo, Small Paul, Eddie Tana, Boog Star, Corey Miller, Britton McFetridge, Spotlight Tattoo, Bob Tyrrell, Big Gus, Elm St. Tattoo, Goethe, Gypsy Rose, Alex Strangler, Karen Costleigh, and Christine Barnum.
All ages are welcome at MUSINK, and kids 7 years old and under get in free.
MUSINK hours are 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM on Friday, March 16th, 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM on Saturday, March 17th, and 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM on Sunday, March 18th.
Tickets are available for single day and weekend passes at musinkfest.com.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and enjoys the art of story telling. Also a dedicated sneakerhead.