King Khan and BBQ Show – Interview

The boys are firmly back in town but apparently they bring bad news as we catch up with King Khan & BBQ Show ahead of the unleashing of their astounding new album “Bad News Boys”.

After a 6 year hiatus King Khan & BBQ Show have reconvened to produce the brilliantly odd Bad News Boys, its yet another album filled with brilliant garage rock infused with their own individual flare. We catch up with King Khan and Mark Sultan AKA BBQ Show to talk about their variety of influences, what makes this project so special, upcoming live performances and in general what to expect from the pair this time around.

It’s quite clear the band are excited to unleash this slab of wild and intense garage rock on the unsuspecting public, I’m almost certain that the live shows will be as brilliant and intense as ever especially going by Khan’s interesting description. Mark also leaves us with a rather poignant closing statement, which I couldn’t agree with more especially in this digital age.

First of all for those who aren’t in the know what are the major differences between your other projects and this guise?

Mark Sultan: Ah! Ya, we find it weird that people get this band confused with the Shrines. Khan’s name is there, sure. But the bands sound NOTHING alike. For one, the Shrines has like 10 dudes. We’re two. The sound just CAN’T be similar (we don’t even have a bass!). Throw onto that we don’t even play the same style of music, and the fact that this band has two distinct vocalists and songwriters, and you have a different band, entirely. As far as other projects go, there are many between us, I’m sure Khan will address his. Mine active ones are ‘The Ding-Dongs’, in which I play early rock’n’roll/rockabilly with Bloodshot Bill, as a full band. I play as a solo act under either ‘BBQ’ or ‘Mark Sultan’, playing stuff reminiscent of KKBBQ, but also full-blown experimental stuff. On labels like Sub Pop, In The Red, Bomp… And the two of us have ‘The Almighty Defenders’, which is King Khan, me, and Black Lips. That is sort of a ‘gospel’ band. We released an album on Vice.

KK– Yes we have alot of different projects going on, but the KK & BBQ Show and the Shrines are my main ones. I have a punk record coming out called “Scum of the Moon” by The Black Jaspers, a band i do with Jasper Hood (singer of The About Blanks) and John Boy Adonis(drummer of the Shrines) on In the Red Records. I have just started my own label called “Khannibalism” and will be putting out a bunch of singles very soon including some stuff i recorded with Lias Saoudi from The Fat White Family.

The new album Bad News Boys is excellent, that goes without saying but are there any particular tales behind any of the tracks?

Mark Sultan: I think it’s more a story of the album as a whole. I know I can’t really give stories about songs I wrote or sang… Like ‘Alone Again’ or ‘Bye Buy Bhai’. They just kinda ‘happened’. The real magic was in the session. If memory serves, we did it in a day or two. But memory won’t serve: we were drinking LOTS of homemade absinthe and doing other things. And luckily my basement where we recorded is full of really creative energy. It was great fun doing the album. I mean, at that point, we were friends again (we even did record a 45 a couple of years back, but that seemed weird), and you can hear the joy in the recordings. It’s like we tapped right back into where we were psychically years ago and just had a blast. We buried many hatchets and took many shits.

KK– yes indeed, lots of joy on that recording session, blessings from the green fairies and we sucessfully travelled back to when we were floor punching teenage delinquents.

In particular is there a story behind the album closer Zen Machines?

Mark Sultan: ‘Zen Machines’ was actually supposed to be the new bandname, at one point, along with 2 others.

KK: Zen Machines was the plateau we reached as time travellers and blood brothers… we have always worked by harnessing a sweet nectar out of chaos…. like beekeepers we smoke the drones away and give it all back to our respective queens.

Do you think your time apart has altered your sound at all, have either of you brought any new influences or game changing ideas to the table?

Mark Sultan: I think people thinking we would ‘evolve’ or do ‘something new’ are missing the point with this band. Besides both of us having access to experimentation in other projects, we are very schooled music fans. We aren’t stuck on the sound. It really is just that it IS our sound. When we play, this is what we do. To try changing it would be TRYING. We are just letting this be what it is, very naturally. When I read people complaining that it sounds like our other albums, stylistically, i know (from experience) these same people would complain if we DID deviate. People just like complaining.

KK – yeah, we is what we is and we likes what we does and all the rest can go fuck off…. If you can imagine a gangster rap version of popeye saying that then kudos.

Is time apart good for your individual creativity? When you reconvene is there an instant spark?

Mark Sultan: We had about 5? 6 years apart from this band. But thru our whole stint together, and before that, we have always had our different projects. A lot of my solo stuff would use the same style of songwriting I use for songs I write in KKBBQ, but the difference is that 99% of the time, even those songs wouldn’t fit in this project. It’s a magical project. So, I guess, for me, there is a creative boost when writing for this band, cuz of excitement. We turn into little kids. It’s funny.

You both have very individual styles do you think you complement each other well?

Mark Sultan: I think we really do compliment each other well. A lot of folks might not know my sound and style, for example. I read stuff where – even though there are two distinct voices on these records – Khan is credited as one homogenous voice. It’s very, very depressing on one hand, but I think it also shows how cohesive we are, how symbiotic we can be when creating for this one. What people should understand is that we have know each other for YEARS. Our first touring and recording band, ‘The Spaceshits’, released their first 45s 20 years ago.

Is there a full tour in the works, we’ve noticed your on the bill for End of The Road this year will there be any other dates in the UK around that?

Mark Sultan: Full tour in the UK? I don’t think so. Mostly US stuff.

KK: we will do some UK dates around the end of the road thing in sept. and we play with the mummies, gories and black lips in Oakland with John Waters hosting on July 4 and 5th this year. I have never been this excited about a show before.

Obviously, King Khan your famed for your captivating live shows, can we expect similar things from any upcoming live shows?

KK: Well as long as there is blood in my veins and reindeer in my reigns I will keep on keepin on. I think when Mark and I play together we cause a strange mist of energies and smells that swirl around us and make people do things that they normally wouldnt…. we conjure…. cuz that is what we do… we are conjurers sent from a bearded mushroom to protect the holiness of rock n roll and keep it as pure as possible…. we exist on our own sphere and don’t belong to this world.

Also on another point what inspires the craziness of your live shows? I was personally blown away the first time I saw you!

KK: Harnessing the nectar of the bearded mushroom whose drones are sent to harass us and whose bees are sent to molasses…. they are coming to take me away haha hee hee….

Are there any bands we should be looking out for right now besides yourselves obviously?!?!

KK: Look out for racist bands, fake rocknroll bands, rubber bands, and the bands whose music turns kids brains into little emojis and ruins any chance for genius because they replace their brains with fodder… poor kids these days…. so velly sroooopid!!!! ooops…fart …..DIE!

Have you anything else you’d like to tell us about?

Mark Sultan: Listen and love music. But know where it comes from. Who is risking what? What influenced them? It’s easy to consume music as fast food. But music is a very magickal and precious resource. It’s individual and comes from the soul. All I ask is that people invite songs into their hearts and let them grow there. If something moves you in this lifetime, it’s rare. Lock it away and pass it down. Don’t just chomp it and shit it. You’ll be happier.

KK: Yes, Crunch Crunch!!!!



King Khan & BBQ Show are on Facebook and Tweet as @KKBBQShow. They will also be playing End of the Road Festival this year.

All words and pictures by Lee Hammond. You can check out more work by Lee at his Louder Than War author’s archive, he also tweets as @Napzap.

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