Q&A: Nate Davis explains how Travis Barker may have ripped off KontraBand Muzik with “Let the Drummer Get Wicked” [Update: Response from Recording Engineer]

[Editor’s Note: We’re going to stray off the sports path with this post, but I think with good reason.

We are all about loyalty here at MSF – loyalty to our teams, obviously, but also loyalty to friends and family. Nate Davis, the lead singer of KontraBand Muzik, has been a friend and loyal supporter of MSF since the site was launched. Now that he is in need of a little help spreading the word about something that is important to him, KVB and I are happy to help. Plus, it sounds to me like he got screwed over. And if true, that’s bullshit.

Update 2/25: Since posting this on February 23rd, we have continued to try to contact someone from Barker’s camp. Today, I received an email from James Ingram, who was a recording engineer on the album. His response to KontraBand’s claims is included in the post below.

Read on.]

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I got a call from my friend Nick the other night. He said he saw Travis Barker on Jimmy Kimmel Live doing a song. Honestly I thought so what, who is Travis Barker? Ah yes, the Blink 182 drummer. Well Nick said the song “Drummer Get Some” they preformed sounded like something he’d heard before. Specifically, it sounded like one of our friend’s songs: “Drummer Get Wicked” by KontraBand Muzik. We live in Indianapolis and they have a large following here.

Now, I am pretty cautious about stuff like this. I once did an illustration for a band’s logo and it looked almost exactly like an Umphrees McGee logo. Though a band member merely pointed out the similarity, it crushed part of me, from an artistic originality and integrity standpoint, to think that they may have thought I was ripping someone off, especially a band that had a similar sound. But I hadn’t even heard of Umphrees at the time.

That said, getting back to my conversation with Nick, he tipped me off to something that I think, in all honesty, is pretty disappointing and disheartening, especially since you now know my take on the importance of artistic originality and integrity.

To further explain what I am getting at – that Travis Barker quite likely ripped off KontraBand Muzik without crediting them in any way – here is a Q & A with Nate Davis of KontraBand Muzik. Needless to say, he’s not happy about it.

KVB: I heard that your band has a personal account of a discussion with Travis Barker’s manager and gave him your music to listen to. Give us details of that and what your original track “Drummer Get Wicked” on that CD has to do with it?

Nate Davis: In January of 2010, we recorded a song called “Let the Drummer Get Wicked”. Six months later, we sent our demo, which included that song, to Travis Barker’s manager. He told us that we were “whack” and that he didn’t like our style. Six months after that, XXL Magazine had a press release introducing Travis Barker’s new mixtape “Let the Drummer Get Wicked” with his debut single “Can the Drummer Get Some?” which sounds very similar to ours.

And here is our song and a few more of the details:


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And here is “Can a Drummer Get Some” by Travis Barker:


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We’re asking all of our fans, or anybody who supports the “little guy” to flood the message boards on XXL and Travis Barker’s Facebook Page. All we’re asking is for him to admit it.

KVB: So you guys were upset, not flattered, when you heard about Travis Barker’s new release?

ND: We were shocked and definitely pissed off, especially since we heard about his new record and song by a fan who posted the link on our Facebook wall.

You have to understand that when we found out that our Road Manager had a good relationship with Travis Barker’s manager, we were really excited to send over the music.  We felt that Travis would definitely “get” what we were trying to do musically, and we were hoping for an opportunity to join his label.  We felt like it was the break we were waiting for. We had been shopped around to some hip-hop labels, and they passed on us because they didn’t understand the rock element in our sound.  We needed a look from someone who was inspired by both rock and hip-hop, and felt like this was the perfect fit.

Then came the news from his manager that he thought we were “whack” (his manager’s words), and it was devastating.  It sort of made us question if we really had an innovative sound, or if it was something that people just didn’t understand or weren’t ready for.  Now, it feels like we just gave him a good idea on a sound and a song that would showcase his abilities.  It’s the perfect song for what he’s trying to do, so I can understand how he could be inspired by it.

Update: Here is the response from James Ingram, received February 25th, 2011:

“I can tell you that the bulk of Travis’ song was recorded in 2008 prior to his plane crash.  There are timestamped and dated files from that time that really would backup the news, but I hope you take my word for it at this point.  Hell, I have email chains of rough mixes and such from that time as well.  I hate to burst their bubble, but Kontraband seems like they are a little uninformed on this one.  On another note, as far as “Let the Drummer Get Wicked”, Travis is not to credit for that, neither is Kontraband, but James Brown.  Its a rather famous sample thats been repeated over the years, Public Enemy comes to mind.  Its also heavily used by DJ’s due to its breakbeat nature.  Using “Let the Drummer Get Wicked” as a title for a FREE mixtape is more of an ode and shout out to people who have done it before.  I don’t want to sound like I’m bagging on Kontraband, but I find it almost laughable that they think they have a case here.”

In a later email, Ingram (who was very cordial and cooperative) had this to say:

“I realize I will have a slightly skewed or biased point of view, but I hope the tone of what I said didn’t/doesn’t sound like I’m attacking the band.  I’m not trying to bash anyone per se, it just doesn’t add up to me.  From a copyright perspective, naming songs similar or even exact phrases really isn’t grounds for infringement either.  I could call a new record “The White Album” and the Beatles couldn’t come after me for it.  As just an example, the Troggs classic “Wild Thing” and Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing”.  Same name, different songs.  I’m sure you get the gist of it.
Similar style?  I guess so, rapping over drum and live guitars/bass.  “Ripoff”?  Not really, the timeframe doesn’t make sense, or the composition for that matter.  Different notes, different progression, different lyrics.”
And here is Nate’s response to what Ingram said:
“That’s fine…and accurate about James Brown and Public Enemy, but the finished product is undeniable, and we know what we sent them.  We expected somebody to come out and say something from his camp. If they’ve got it timestamped, then great.  They can feel free to prove it. Hell of a coincidence, though.
Our case is that we sent it to his management team, who said they didn’t like it and then he comes out 8 months later and releases it?  we were on the radio the other day, and well be putting this out soon, but the songs lay on top of each other identically, and have the same fills. Our song was out first, as well. So, they can say whatever they want. We’ve had people writing us that have heard the two and feel the same way.”
So there you go. Now you have both sides of the story. The rest of this post is as it appeared when originally published.

KVB: What do you think the motivation would be to tell someone they are no good but jock their style or sound anyway?

ND: I don’t have any motivation to do that, so I can’t answer that.  The only motivation that I can think of for him is that he’s putting out a different kind of album, and he needed a good single that defined what his record was going to be about.

His album is all about his drumming ability and blending hip hop and rock, and you need a song that accents that.  It’s already the type of music that we do, so why would he sign a group that’s going to directly compete with his style?  He’s got the money.  He’s got the connections.  We had a really low Internet presence at the time, and he’s got a huge fanbase.  It’s his word against ours, and he definitely has the credibility.

But, it’s one hell of a coincidence that we sent that song over, along with others, and he named the mixtape the same as our song title, and has a song eerily similar to ours.  “Let the Drummer Get Wicked” and “Can the Drummer Get Some”?  Come on.

KVB: You are signed with a label called KG Records. Who are they and how are they handling this situation you described?

ND: KG records is an independent label out of Chicago (www.kg-records.com) that signed us in January, which was about six months after our initial contact with Travis Barker’s camp.  They are consulting with an attorney.  We’re trying to figure out what our options are.

let-the-drummer-get-wicked-cover-travis-barker

I don’t really care about suing or anything like that.  I just want him to know that we know what he did, and I hope that our fans and people who think it’s wrong let him know about it.  We’re not looking for money.  We’re looking for a little respect and recognition.  It’s hard enough to be a musician.  He knows that.  It just sucks when someone who is already rich can potentially take advantage of you.  But this is a really shady business.  It’s not the first time having this happen and it definitely will not be the last.

KVB: Leon (AKA Kwiksticks) Kittrell is a great drummer who was recently featured in Supernatural Cymbals’ 2011 Catalog. His abilities were definitely the inspiration for producing the track right? Elaborate on the original idea of “Drummer Get Wicked” from last year.

ND: Yeah.  His Dad actually played drums for The Funk Brothers, which was the primary band for most of the popular Motown artists from the late 60’s and 70’s, so he’s got good genes.   We actually saw an old video of his pops on Soul Train, which was hilarious.

But, in regards to the song, our bass player, Jeremy Taylor, and our DJ, DJ Unorthodox, had an idea to have a song that showcased our drummer, and we just went with it.  Leon does a lot of exciting fills and plays with his shirt over his head during solos, and is a monster behind the kit, so we just wanted to have a song to perform at our shows that would create some excitement for the audience.  Apparently, it was pretty good idea.

KVB: Moving on, what is Kontraband Muzik doing musically this spring 2011?

ND: Touring hard in the Southeast, and going to Europe for the New Skool Rules Festival in Rotterdam.  We’ll be at the festival from April 1-3 and are picking up a couple of dates in Poland, as well as a military base in Germany.  We’ll get back to the states on April 10th.  You can see our schedule at KontraBandMuzik.com, add us on Facebook at and see our videos at www.youtube.com/kontrabandmuzik.

KVB: You have a lot of fun content featuring your music on YouTube. Describe some of it.

ND: We post a new video and offer a free song on our website every Monday.  And the thing that makes our band unique, I think, is that we play around with a lot of genres.  Somewhere along the line, what started as an idea to remake some Classic Rock songs and hip-hop songs became an obsession with the 80s.  I guess it’s because we were really into Teen Wolf, Back to the Future, Revenge of the Nerds etc., and just stayed on an 80s kick.  We started remaking a few, and we’re just going to keep going.

In regards to the content, we’re all pretty much clowns, so all we do is go out in Athens, GA (which is where we spend most of our time) and videotape the debauchery.

KVB: By the way, I was originally going to write about the Chicago White Sox reporting to Spring Training, but Travis Barker took my article and posted it online. This is better anyway. Thanks for your time Nate.

ND: Thanks.  I appreciate it!!!

You can listen to new tracks by KontraBand Muzik, download the free covers, and purchase the album at KontraBandMuzik.com or iTunes.

kontraband-muzik

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Attempts to get a comment from Travis Barker or his manager were unsuccessful. However, if anyone from Barker’s camp wants to contact MSF so we can update this post with your side of the story, feel free to email jerod@midwestsportsfans.com or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Kevin Bertolini

Midwesterner. I grew up in Columbus Ohio and later in Indiana, blacked out for 7 years in Miami and now live in Indianapolis. I am very knowledgeable on Ohio State Buckeye football but all of College Football in my opinion. The White Sox are my favorite MLB team. The Cubs are the worst thing in the world next to Brady Hoke. I also enjoy the St. Louis Rams and Jeff Fisher's mustache.