Three years ago, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker was in critical condition after his chartered jet crashed in South Carolina, killing four of the six people on board. Now Barker tells Rolling Stone that the tragedy brought his band back together -- and gave him a new lease on life.
"I looked Death right in the face," says Barker, 35. "It's crazy to think that such horrific events would be what it would take to get us back together."
When the crash happened, the Meet the Barkers star was touring as a duo with DJ AM (the tragedy's other survivor). He hadn't considered getting back together with his two Blink-182 bandmates, Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge, because of bitterness over the breakup. But after his brush with death, Barker saw things in a whole new light.
"I'm in a hospital. S***'s not going so good," he recalls. "I get to the point where I can actually read and I see a letter from Tom. I don't have the same feelings that I had six months earlier if he had written me a letter. I'm sitting on a bed and the doctors are talking about possibly amputating my foot and I'm reading this letter from Tom and there's a picture of his kids. It was heavy. I wasn't bummed at all. I had no ill will. I had no f***ed up feeling towards him. I wanted to reach out to him."
Barker's reconciliation with his bandmates was just one of the big steps he took after his recovery. He says he let go of the painkiller addiction that he was battling prior to the plane crash. (Tragically, his fellow crash survivor DJ AM would later die from a combination of cocaine and prescription drugs.) A recently converted vegan, Barker has also kept a vow that he made to himself in the hospital: "I promised myself that if I ever walked again, that I would eat well and swim every day." But he says that he wouldn't have been able to do it without his kids: Landon, 7, and Alabama, 5, with ex-wife Shanna Moakler.
"If I didn't have kids, I think I would have went the other direction," he explains. "I mean, when I got out of the hospital I was on 21 forms of medication. The doctor said that I would be on half of them for the rest of my life. I was on (suicide) watch for two weeks... I had my kids looking up to me and wanting me to bounce back."
Neighborhoods, Blink-182's first album in eight years, hit stores last week.