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Music | Khaaan!: Blacksnake and BBQ get saucy


I should have guessed that two guys who call themselves Blacksnake and Creepy were going to mess with me a little bit.

But some journalists never learn. That’s why reporters have the same public approval rating as used car salesmen.

Blacksnake (aka King Khan) and Creepy (aka BBQ aka Mark Sultan) are former members of defunct punk band Spaceshits, the one-time antiheroes of Montreal’s music scene long before Arcade Fire graced the cover of Time.

The Spaceshits were famous for raising hell, inciting riots and alienating uptight club owners with their insane stage antics. Although plenty of naysayers predicted that the young rabble-rousers in the band would end up face down in the gutter (permanently, not just for an hour or two), Blacksnake and BBQ harnessed their unadulterated love of rock & roll, refined their musical chops and persevered after the Spaceshits called it quits.

Blacksnake—who fell in love with Germany during a Spaceshits tour and decided to stay there—adopted the name King Khan and formed countless bands, including a solo project called King Khan and His Lonesome Guitar. BBQ stayed in Montreal, joined Les Sexareenos (a band named after a seedy pulp novel), started cranking out solo material and adopted several names.

Eventually, BBQ—Creepy’s one man band—did a show in Germany, which led to some jam sessions with King Khan, which led to a joyful Creepy/Blacksnake collaboration called The King Khan & BBQ Show.

Shortly after the band’s inception, The King Khan & BBQ Show’s irreverent yet undeniably seamless blend of punk, psychedelic rock, doo-wop, R&B and good old classic rock & roll began to produce, as the band’s Website so eloquently states, legions of “overenthusiastic psychos who knew all of the words.”

Some of those overenthusiastic psychos who knew all of the words were members of up-and-coming bands, such as Atlanta’s Black Lips—who are definitely in the process of amassing hordes of overzealous fans who know all the words to their songs. The Lips were so taken by The King Khan & BBQ Show that they formed a close friendship with the duo, collaborated on a few obscure 7-inches and dubbed King Khan the secret fifth member of their band.

The King Khan & BBQ Show live performance has developed a small but devoted cult following. Audience members are converted by the band’s catchy R&B and rock & roll rhythms and charmed by their sentimental-yet-profane lyrics.

The King Khan & BBQ Show has also produced a string of kitschy music videos. The video for “Waddlin’ Around” features a snaggle-toothed sock monster in hot pursuit of puking puppet versions of Khan and BBQ.

Mind you, the name of the band is The King Khan & BBQ Show, not King Khan & The BBQ Show, as BBQ adamantly pointed out in an e-mail. If you’re unfortunate enough to put the ‘the’ in the wrong place, prepare to get growled at by BBQ.

In fact, my first round of questions received a rather volatile response from BBQ. I was convinced he hated my jaundiced journalist guts until I got King Khan on the phone.

“Don’t mind BBQ,” Khan said, in the same tone of voice that my grandma once used to smooth over my grandpa’s pissy outbursts, “He gets a little grumpy sometimes.”

Khan—an extroverted father of two young girls who alternately sports a World War I helmet and army fatigues, and a makeshift Tina Turner costume, complete with a fringy purple dress and wig, onstage—talked with me for nearly an hour with tremendous energy and enthusiasm about Haitian and Turkish voodoo; hexes; gypsies; Indian witches; black magic; mustache-growing contests; Georgia; Florida; Brooklyn, N.Y.; New Orleans; Berlin; hot dogs; beer; salacious botched interviews with French journalists; and burning upside-down cop cars in Montreal, among other engaging and unprintable topics.

Khan even admitted to blowing chunks outside of a famous Chicago hot-dog restaurant, much like the puppet version himself in the “Waddlin’ Around” video.

Somewhere in the midst of our conversation which ranged topically from the Brazilian reverence for a nice butt to how Khan almost met the one and only Fats Domino in New Orleans, I told Kahn to apologize to BBQ on my behalf for my subpar questions.

“Oh, don’t worry about. It’s OK, it’s OK,” he said, with a slight laugh. Then, under his breath, he added, “It’s kind of a joke.”

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that BBQ was pulling my leg, but when it dawned on me, I put my head in my hands and laughed.

Of course, it’s possible that a person who has toured extensively with a one-man band and appeared in multiple photos with a bucket on his head is in a chronically bad mood. Perhaps BBQ was only half-joking when he said “the only thing I fear is half-thought-out questions like these.”

In any case, it’s an honor to be duped by Blacksnake and BBQ—even if they think my questions are subpar.

The King Khan & BBQ Show, The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Friday Nov. 23, 10 p.m.