Anyone who’s been to a King Khan and the Shrines show knows all about the sheer cathartic energy, the wild and crazy exuberant antics onstage and the adoring crowd as they worship the almighty King Khan and his sensational Shrines in all their fantasmic musical glory, as they spread their wicked voodoo charms, in their whacked out glittery caped costumes. It’s a soul-filled, garage-y, horn smattering love-fest of spiritual liberation, excitation, and sexhalation. While on his latest tour, the multifaceted man about town, King Khan, kindly finds time to answer some questions:
What lives inside the mind, heart and soul of King Khan and the Shrines?
I really feel like what we do is some kind of spiritual service especially in such a corrupt world nothing can soothe the mind and soul more than soul music. If the intentions are holy and it provides the proper opiate that both alleviates pain and exposes hypocrisy then we have a true catalyst for change which is precisely what rock n roll really is… breaking all sexual and social boundaries…. Little Richard was nothing but an Indian deity!
Where do you get your flashy and sexy outfits?
Can you describe the journey that you are taking us on?
Well it is basically trying to find your own path of illumination. This can only begin when you are spiritually liberated and start to learn the tools to control your destiny. Once that path is found, everything falls into place…. order out of chaos…. the light shines thru and your visions become crystalized and begin forming…. the dance of reality is what my mentor and guru Jodorowsky calls it.
Who or what inspires you to do the things you do?
Its hard to say, everything inspires me, i am very passionate about the things i do and i think people feel that and see that my intentions are good and dont revolve around trying to get rich or climb a bullshit social ladder. AS much as i feel like a receptor for divine information from the cosmos, i also feel like a 12 year old boy who wants to make jokes and laugh all the time. That childishness is something i cherish deeply and share very profoundly with most of my closest musical brothers and sisters, especially Mark Sultan, him and I have been giggling all the way to the bank for a long ass time.
I love your crazy hilarious videos. Who comes up with the stories and ideas for them?
I do all the story writing for the videos. I have a wonderful team in Berlin called the HYLAS brothers…. whenever i gave them a script they always made all of it come true, even when i wanted Jesus squirting red wine out of his eyes and shooting white bread out of his hands…. they literally make my dreams come true.
Sleepwalker video for moon duo is one of my faves, I lay a cult leader/aeorbic instructor…. its really funny.
You must have traveled all of the world spreading your glorious music. Which places have you like the most and why?
Mark Sultan and I drank fresh cobra blood and spinal cord in a vicious cocktail in Jakarta, i love that place. Playing the Sydney opera house was also pretty crazy cuz we got to hang with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson for a few days and do Tai Chi with them. Spain is always wild and fun, Berlin too…. i feel very fortunate to have traveled the world over and over again with the people i love the most.
Where do your wildest fans live?
Berlin, Spain, USA, Oakland, all over i guess.
Tell me about your wondrous Black Power Tarot cards. What went into creating them? Did you design the cards?
I designed them based on a dream i had of Jodo and i hanging out and him asking me to show him a card that is weird. I woke up knowing exactly what i had to do. When i told him my idea Jodo really loved it and gave me his blessings. Michael Eaton, the artist,who does lots of stuff for Game Of Thrones, reached out to me and i filled him up with the vision. Then every card was sent to Jodo to be approved, and that’s when happiness began!!!!
How did you get involved with Alejandro Jodorowsky? Did you meet him?
His son Adan, who was the kid in Santa Sangre, played bass while i played guitar and sang a Charlie Feathers tune at a buddy of mine’s wedding. Afterwards we met and i told him that i had been studying his fathers teachings for a long time. He told me he loved my music and would love to send me to meet Jodo. I felt i wasn’t ready to meet him at that time and waited a few years till i felt strong enough and then it happened. Jodo invited me to his home in Paris, gave me my first deck of the Tarot de Marseilles, taught me personally and finally I got to be one of his spiritual warriors.
What’s your favorite film of his? Can you related to any of the characters in his films?
That is tough, i love Holy Mountain and El Topo equally. I love that each of his films are like a ritual, with the intention to mutate the collective soul, to teach all of us something profound, hilarious, surrealistic and mind blowing. The world needs more things like that to save our souls and keep us laughing till it hurts.
What’s the story behind the William S. Burroughs “Let Me Hang you” record?
That was a gift given to me by Hal Willner. Hal was Lou reed’s best friend and producer and i met him and Lou at the same time and became close buddies. A few years back Hal wrote me that he had a surprise for me, he sent me seven tracks of William S. Burroughs reading the most unspeakable parts of Naked Lunch. My mouth dropped, i made the music for all the tracks and one of them even made Hal cry! WSB has always been one of the biggest catalysts of change in my life, i read Naked Lunch when i was 14 years old and it mutated my brain and turned me into a absolute freak worshiper.
What do you think William S. Burroughs would say today if he heard that record?
I think he would love it…. and maybe fly me to Tangiers and feed me the black meat and eventually I would turn into a fez wearing mug wup juice drinking queer or maybe not.
Meeting John Waters was a dream come true… i think his films inspired me just as much as all the r&b and garage punk and teenage bubble gum rock n roll i grew up on with the Spaceshits. When john introduced the King Khan and BBQ Show, he was blown away and gave us the best compliment ever… he called us the love child of gorgeous george, liberace and bunker hill!!!! This year he introduced the shrines and i got to hang with him a lot. It’s amazing that he can still whip out a sentence and have the whole room open mouthed in awe at how offensive he can be…. i cherish that in people very much.
Not only did i get to meet her, but i kissed her hand and just that act alone completes a circle of orgasmic energy that was created in 1999 when i found a tape of hers in my wife’s VHS collection and of course I am gonna marry a woman who can watch hours of Sun Ra with me and then enjoy some of Traci’s finest performances…. especially Cry Baby!!!! I think Traci is one of my super feminist dream goddesses, what she single-handedly did to turn the porn world upside down and empower herself could only be masterminded by a TRUE BANDIT QUEEN of the highest order of filth and i mean that with the utmost respect and admiration. I am trying to get her and Willie Nelson to sing a duet of this country song i wrote with my daughter Saba Lou who is 15 called “you’re only as good as the woman you love”.
So, being chosen by John B. Smith, founding member of The Invaders, to do the soundtrack of The Invaders film, was a wonderful experience for you…. Can you describe how you felt, what that meant for you, and how you tackled the project with the feelings you had? Have you always been interested in Black Power and such subversive groups?
My father told me he saw the Black Panthers speak in the Univ. of Montreal in the 60s and gave me the Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was 12 years old. I was raised to love Black Power and learned at an early age that black power meant “All Power to all People!” The fact that this film actual tells a new side of civil rights blew my mind, I had no idea that MLK embraced a militant group and was impressed by their incredible work in organizing the youth of Memphis, getting all the kids to drop their gang colors and fight for Black Power. MLK was always painted as the peaceful one and Malcolm X was the tyrant, this was total bullshit. They both were radical in there own ways. It was the greatest honor for me to be chosen by John B. Smith, the man who had secret meetings with Dr. King and helped organize the poor people’s campaign. During the two years of working on this soundtrack John B. adopted Prichard Smith, The Director, and I like real family.
Had you heard about The Invaders Black Power organization before all this?
I had no idea about the Invaders, i feel like it was the powers that be that tried to erase there existence. Luckily Prichard was from Memphis and his mother told him about the invaders long ago when he was a kid.
Did you have an opportunity to watch the film and decide what tracks you wanted write and where to place them? Or was it a different sort of process? Describe the process.
I basically was given carte blanche. They sent me the film with no music and i got to put what i wanted where I wanted. Since it was about Memphis, Prichard and our record collector buddy Andrew Macullogh wanted to use a lot of our favorite soul comp called “Chains and Black Exhaust”…. I also wanted to put some real Black Power Free Jazz into it so I used some amazing tracks by Philip Kelan Cohran and The Art Ensemble of Chicago.
How has this whole experience changed you, and the way you write?
It gave me a reason to start writing more about getting involved…. I choose to stay away from heavy politics in my music by choice. Music is a spiritual thing for me, and also a strong opiate… I prefer making music for those purposes, but now i also try and throw some serious issues into them.
How did Ian Svenonius and Jack Oblivian get involved in the project?
I got Ian involved cuz I love his writing and we are very good friends and always talked about collaborating, this was the perfect thing to get together for. Ian is a super genius! Prichard got Jack involved in the beginning of the film and he provided a couple of tunes with his new band The Sheiks.
What did you grow up listening to as a kid? Did you live in a musical household? When did you passion for music start?
My dad used to book very big Indian classical music legends when i was a little kid. My mom used to put headphones on her belly before i was born and make me listen to Indian classical music in the womb. That’s why my brain is paisley inside, haha. My parents loved music and made me learn guitar when i was 12. They were very supportive of my weird musical taste and let me discover all the music i wanted to so I guess my passion from music was pre-natal.
Do you believe in some sort of afterlife? What do you believe happens when you die?
I believe in the universal soul, a place in the stars where all our spirituality comes from. Humans are 20% magma and 80% water…. the magma in us wants to return to the sun our holy mother, just like the planet earth whose blood is magma and wants to rise and go back to mama sun. All spirituality wants to erupt and go back to space. The moon is our bloodless sister which we are tethered to so that we are reminded of the cycle of the days.
What are some of your all-time favorite movies?
There are way too many to mention…. but here are some films that changed my life….
Holy Mountain and El Topo by Jodorowsky
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song by Melvin Van Peebles
Black Orpheus from Brazil
Three Cabellreos by Disney
Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers by Cronenburg
Psycho and Vertigo and Birds by Hitchcock
Spirits of the Dead: Toby Dammit episode by Fellini
Taxidriver, Meanstreets, American Boy and Goodfellas by Scorcese
Space is the Place and Joyful Noise by Sun Ra
and The Third Man and Touch of Evil by Orson Welles
In the film you did the music for and acted in – Back to Nothing – was this the first film you acted in? Did you enjoy playing the character Pontius?
Actually Miron Zownir the director wrote that part for me! I did a bunch of films as a teenager with Mishka Gollner aka T.T. Rogers, as well as some low budget films with German film maker Iris Cuntze…. Hombre Fatal! I loved playing Pontius, but filming with Miron can be torture, but only in the best way!
Have there been other soundtracks besides The Invaders and Back to Nothing that you did for films?
The first major motion picture i scored was Schwarze Schafe by Oliver Rihs in 2005…. its a great German black comedy…. The Invaders and Back To Nothing were the other two major films I have done.
If Hollywood discovered you and wanted to hire you full-time to create soundtracks for super grossing films, would you quit touring and do this full time?
Probably not…. i love doing ALL of those things. Touring and making rock n roll is my service to the world, to heal their ills with my opiate….