Last week, the Web site for Epitaph Records began streaming four songs from the Transplants' self-titled debut, a merging of punk heavyweights Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Travis Barker (Blink 182/Box C

Last week, the Web site for Epitaph Records began streaming four songs from the Transplants' self-titled debut, a merging of punk heavyweights Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Travis Barker (Blink 182/Box Car Racer) that's due in stores Oct. 22. Not bad for a band that started as little more than a friendly collaboration in Armstrong's basement studio.

"In the beginning, this record was just an experiment," drummer Barker tells Billboard.com. "At the time I went down to record it, I was like, 'I have no time, and there's nothing I want to be a part of,' but I fell in love with it. We really didn't start taking it seriously until the last few months of making the record. We thought it was so different from anything we've heard. It's like three punk kids got hold of a drum machine and stole a bunch of hip-hop records."

Indeed, first single "Diamonds and Guns" features a guest rap from Funkdoobiest's Son Doobie, and the track comes off as a punk rock take on the Gorillaz. The song is already in heavy rotation at Los Angeles' modern rock station KROQ, and has been gaining airplay in Seattle, Kansas City, Mo., and Detroit. The rest of the 12-track debut jumps from drum'n'bass to hardcore, all with an underlying reggae feel to it that is already drawing comparisons to the Clash's "Sandinista!"

"That's Tim," Barker says, referring to Armstrong's well-known love of the British punk icons. "But if you listen to 'Quick Death' or 'Romper Stomper,' the guitar sounds like Slayer. I don't think we ever worried about sounding like the Clash or sounding like Rancid. From song to song it's so different, I can't pick one song that sounds like a Rancid song or one song that sounds like a Blink song."

The project has been more than two years in the making, beginning when Armstrong met unknown vocalist Rob Aston selling merchandise for AFI. "We're kind of like the yin and the yang," Aston says. "Tim's a little more positive when he writes, and I'm kind of the angrier side of it. We work really well together because Tim's real patient. He's a musical genius, and this is my first band, so I still have a lot of learning to do."

The two had written between 30 and 40 songs before Barker was brought on-board. Without a live drummer, the project was leaning to the industrial side of the spectrum "We did 16 or 17 songs in four hours," says Barker, "and Tim and Rob were like, 'This is sick. It's changed so much. Let's do this for real and start writing together.'"

The Transplants played a brief West Coast tour last summer, and are planning a full-scale jaunt early next year. While Armstrong is currently recording a new Rancid record, and Barker leaves next Tuesday for a Box Car Racer tour, the drummer is confident the Tranplants will be here to stay.

"In the last few months, the Transplants finished their album, Blink finished its tour, Box Car started preparing for a tour, and I got divorced," Barker says. "It's crazy. I've been freaking out, and to top it off, Blink is going into the studio in January. But I'm working on a bunch of beats, like 60 or 70 beats, that I can put on my hard drive and send to Tim, so he can write a new Transplants album when he has time."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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