The King Khan & BBQ Show are two guys in a band, both writing, performing and singing: Arish ‘King’ Khan: guitar, vocals. His voice is the snotty 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 fourth 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 that had taken the band all over North America, playing festivals like Coachella, starting side projects like Almighty Defenders (with brothers Black Lips), touring the likes of Europe, Israel, Brazil, gaining legions of devoted fans internationally, and kickstarting that whole ‘doo-wop punk’ bullshit movement that still goes on today.
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’ is usually an apartment or – in the case of Bad News Boys – a basement, and they’re armed a 4-track cassette recorder and not much else. 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 humor is dirty, often surreal and potentially subversive, but the seriousness of their passion for 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 tradition they feel is important. They cut their teeth together in The Spaceshits, a lightning fast rock’n’roll band formed in 1995 (dead by 1998) and have toured and paid their 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 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 ten years, without bowing to business or 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.