Travis Barker hails Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish for pushing pop-punk's boundaries

Olivia R and Bilie E
(Image credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Variety)

Blink-182 drummer turned music industry mogul Travis Barker has praised Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Machine Gun Kelly and more for re-writing the pop-punk rulebook.

Barker produced two US number one albums for MGK, 2020's Tickets To My Downfall and 2022's Mainstream Sellout, launched his own record label, DTA Records, in 2020 in partnership with major label Elektra, and has worked with pop-punk stars Willow, Avril Lavigne, Jxdn and more.

“I’m not going to take credit for the sky being blue or my tattoos being black,” Barker tells Billboard, “but we did bring that genre back.”

Barker admits though that rather than being a gatekeeper for the genre, he's more excited by artists for who pop-punk is only one flavour on their creative palate, citing Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish as two inspirational musicians pushing the boundaries.

Barker tells Billboard: “I like Olivia’s album, I love everything Billie’s done. I won’t say, ‘This is pop-punk.’ I’ll say, this music that came out, let’s say like Avril’s ‘Love Sux’, let’s say Jxdn’s ‘Tell Me About Tomorrow’, and ‘Tickets To My Downfall’ [Machine Gun Kelly], were all inspired by pop-punk.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s just pop-punk or has to be categorised like that. Olivia Rodrigo is probably going to make an album that has a little bit of pop-punk influence and some other influences too. Billie’s going to make whatever magical music she’s going to make and she’s going to be inspired by so much.

You don’t have to follow the rules or keep it as sterile as the record label or whatever the rollout plan may be.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.