The King Khan & BBQ Show are BACK, this time as the ‘Bad News Boys’ they originally wanted to be, the moniker and album title was the actual original name of the band circa 2003. Too late to actually change the name, they’ve lived through about every misspelling and rearrangement of the current name, possible. And, although confusing to reviewers and ‘fans’, there are two guys in the band, both writing, performing and singing:
Arish ‘King’ Khan: guitar, vocals. His voice is the ‘snottier’ one. His guitar is the ‘lead’ one.
Mark ‘BBQ’ Sultan: drums, guitar, vocals. His voice is the ‘smooth’ one. His guitar is the ‘rhythmic’ one. The drums are played live with his feet.
‘Bad News Boys’ is the band’s 4th studio album, their latest since 2009’s acclaimed ‘Invisible Girl’. The boys had previously broken up in 2010 after a taxing stretch, culminating in an invite by Lou Reed to play the Sydney Opera House. There was a public (internet) break-up and freak-out, which carried over into the week after, in Asia. Words were said, brothers fought like brothers. It was the end of a stretch which brought the band all over North America, playing festivals like ‘Coachella’, starting side-projects like ‘Almighty Defenders’ (with brothers ‘Black Lips), touring Europe, Israel, Brazil, gaining legions of devoted fans internationally, and kick-starting the whole ‘doo-wop punk’ bullshit movement that still goes on today, without much credit.
This is rock’n’roll. This is punk. This is early r&b. This is psych. This is doo-wop. This is garage. It’s all this and more, without trying to be anything.
A misconception of the band is that they play a bunch of instruments, which are then overdubbed to get a particular sound in ‘the studio’. The truth is that they record live. Their ‘studio’ usually an apartment, or in this case, basement, and they are armed mostly with a 4-track cassette recorder. Their ethos is punk. Their mission is to revere rock’n’roll — the real stuff — enough, so that they are permitted to invoke its spirits and ghosts using magick, using their raw soul — for good or for bad — to evoke the smells and feelings that confuse and delight.
‘The King Khan & BBQ Show’ is a real band. Sure, their sense of humour is dirty, often surreal, potentially subversive. But the seriousness of their love of real rock’n’roll should never be taken lightly. They live a lifestyle of pure love for the genre, respecting and understanding its basic tenets, living as lifers, representatives of what they see as an important tradition. They cut their teeth together in ‘The Spaceshits’, a lightning fast rock’n’roll band formed in 1995 (dead in 1998), and toured and paid dues since, sacrificing their mind, bodies, souls, friends, family… All for love.
King Khan went on to underground hero status in many projects, shocking and impressing tastemakers in need of tangible image-icons, worldwide. Mark Sultan is criminally overlooked in comparison, but is often heralded for his incredible voice and top-tier songwriting — rarities, today. Quite simply: they need one another, like yin and yang, to make it all happen. The band has managed to continue to release top-grade material for over 10 years, without bowing to business, succumbing to what’s ‘hip’, without changing. They do what they want, take it or leave it. Love em or hate em, but never say they can’t write a great rock’n’roll song — and back it up with one of the best, most magickal, energetic, crass and nonsensical free-form live shows going.
They care so much that they don’t give a fuck.