In a new interview, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker talked about the 2008 plane crash that killed four people, calling it a “wake-up call.”

In a new interview, Travis Barker opened up about his 2008 plane crash that killed his assistant, security guard, and two pilots. The Blink-182 drummer, who rarely talks about the incident, discussed his long recovery with Men’s Health magazine, describing how it inspired him to get clean. 

Barker was hospitalized for three months after the accident, having sustained burns on 65% of his body and needing 26 surgeries and numerous skin grafts. The aftermath of the arduous recovery prompted him to get clean; he went off of weed and flushed all the medications he received down the toilet. 

“People are always like, ‘Did you go to rehab?’ And I [say], ‘No, I was in a plane crash.’ That was my rehab. Lose three of your friends and almost die? That was my wake-up call. If I wasn’t in a crash, I would have probably never quit.” He told Men’s Health. 

Even after putting himself on a disciplined path to recovery, Barker said, it wasn’t easy: “I was told I wasn’t going to run again because I had so many grafts on my feet, and there was even talk of me never playing the drums again. As soon as I could walk, I could run. As soon as I could move my hands and my hands healed, I was playing drums. And now I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been.”

In the interview, Barker also opened up about his PTSD from the accident and the survivor’s guilt he battled for months after. At the time of the crash, Barker was with his close friend DJ AM (Adamn Goldstein), who helped Barker escape by using his shirt to protect him from the flames. A year later, however, Goldstein died of a drug overdose. Barker and Goldstein had been “each other’s therapists.” “So it was just him and me,” Barker explained.  “When he left, I was like, ‘Oh, f—. I’m the only one in my club. It’s just me.”

Barker admits that he hasn’t taken a flight since the crash, that if he “saw a plane, I was determined it was going to crash”. He is, however, making progress on that end: “There’s a million things that could happen to me. I could die riding my skateboard. I could get in a car accident. I could get shot. Anything could happen. I could have a brain aneurysm and die. So why should I still be afraid of airplanes?” 

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“It’s gotten better the further I get away from it.  The closer I was to it, it felt like I was closer to the bad stuff than I am to the good stuff. I felt closer to the experience of trying to escape, [to] being in an accident and being burned, trying to grab my friends from a burning plane. That haunted me for a long time. And as long as I was closer to that than this good stuff, I was always thinking about that. Now it’s been so many years, it’s getting easier for me.” he explained in the interview. 

You can read more about this topic over at the Blink-182 Observer.