The King Khan & BBQ Show is not your grandma’s doo-wop band. While undoubtedly inspired by 50s rock ‘n roll, the Canadian duo is notorious for their flip raunchiness and predilection for hot pants. Arish “King” Khan and Mark “BBQ” Sultan have been making music together since the 90s as members of Montreal-based Spaceshits and have collaborated as a garage-meets-soul duo since 2003. Their debauched live shows are infamous for their primal energy, flamboyant costumes, and Andy Kaufman-esque shenanigans. In the following interview, KK and BBQ wax on their musical influences, the rumors surrounding their 2010 break-up, and what to expect from their show at Sinclair this Wednesday 4/10. Cryptic as ever, this kind of mystique and unpredictability is integral to their schtick.
King Khan and BBQ, you have been in bands together since the 90s. How did you initially meet? What makes your dynamic work?
KK – Mark and I used to host this party called “Twat” which was initially meant for a place where flexible people could just feel flexible. We both lost a lot of money in “Twat” so we decided to devote our lives to music. I think our vocabularies make us very dynamic and ambidextrous too.
BBQ – “Twat” was instrumental in shaping our dynamic throughout the 90s. Through kegel scrunches and deciphering hieroglyphs for retarded children, we made it all gel, like Collective Soul.
Your sound’s got the grit of garage with the magic and sparkle of doowop and old timey rock ‘n roll. What draws you to the 50s sound?
BBQ – For myself, there is a natural connection to the two things: sexual primitivism, soul, and disdain for societal norms. Rock’n’roll should make you feel alive and bacchanalian. The 50’s was a soulless, racist void on some levels. Rock’n’roll was an equalizer, cuz it made everyone fuck. Plus, Khan was THEE foremost Andrew Dice Clay tribute in Quebec in the early 90s.
KK- I think the Fonz really inspired me and also the comedy stylings of Andrew Dice Clay…. I feel like a hybrid of those two people should be sent to Israel to start the peace process. I also love Link Wray and anything with a pompadour and an over sized suit.
BBQ – You may ask yourself.
Are you still living in different continents? If so, how do you continue to collaborate?
KK – We seek the wisdom of the Bearded Mushroom and the Praying Mantis Goddess, she unites us in dreams and portals soaked in DMT.
BBQ – We have a Root Rider.
You guys broke up in 2010 and reunited last year. What were you up to during the hiatus? What brought you back together?
BBQ – I worked at Sun Maid. I also released 4 solo albums and stuff thru various bands like ‘The Ding-Dongs’, with Bloodshot Bill. Traveled. Khan had numerous musical projects going on, too. We were both pretty busy, artistically. And we had to raise our lovechild in this last year, which has been a challenging fugue to sully.
KK – I apparently crossed the world taped to three swans.
[Reference to the Sun Maid and swans rumors can be found elsewhere on the internet.]
Any plans to record more music together in the foreseeable future?
KK – I definitely for see a future on tape….
BBQ – Yes.
Your shows are known for your spontaneous and wild antics. It’s been over three years since you played together in Boston. What can we expect at Sinclair on the 10th (other than the unexpected)?
KK – Expect the unexpected….. our costumes have reached an exponential level of ridiculous and our banter is like the gossamer … like an angel taking a dump on a swan…
BBQ – I once rescued a swan who flew into a power cable and then into traffic at 7am in Berlin, after a great night of partying. My friend, Ysael, diverted traffic, as I picked the thing up and ran to put it into a safezone. It didn’t even peck at me, but looked at me with thankful, confused eyes. Dude died a few hours later, and it was in the paper. We have tried to convert this tale into a magical theatre piece. Expect boners, brazen bimbos, figs, feathers, chaos, shamrocks, and possibly shenanigans.