Mark Sultan calls during one of those sloppy Monday afternoons where the sun keeps peeking out tantalizingly from beneath a wet blanket of fog. His lovely voice is an unrecognizable rasp. He's been in Mexico for nine days, drinking vodka and dodging drunks while playing in his band, The King Khan and BBQ Show. One show---a party for VICE---went off the rails quickly, with free vodka leading to fistfights and rushes to the stage.
"I don't like these violent shows," he says. "It doesn't befit the music we play. And plus, it pushes all the girls out of the front---and ultimately, we want to see girls. Instead we get all these sweaty Mexican dudes at the front, and no more beautiful Mexican girls jiggling."
Sultan and Arish Khan began their relationship when they were both living in Montreal playing in garage outfit The Spaceshits. A YouTube video of the band's 1998 performance on a local breakfast talk show says more about the pair's origins than any interview could. Lead singer Sultan, his head covered by a black executioner's hood, barks, while Khan plays bass and wags his tongue lecherously at the camera. After the first song, the easygoing host comes out to chat. "What's your name?" he asks Sultan, who's still wearing the hood. "Creepy," he says. "What does that mean?" asks the host. "Three words: fatwah!" Sultan yells.
"We were just a bunch of obnoxious kids, playing punk," Sultan says. "We stayed up all night before that show, drinking and doing drugs. I wore that hood because I was into crowd-baiting and being obnoxious, and there's nothing more obnoxious than not being able to see someone's face when they're calling you out."
Ten years later, Sultan has dropped the hood but remains a shapeshifter---sometimes he's BBQ, his self-proclaimed "one-man disaster;" sometimes he's a drummer and sometimes he releases albums on his own Sultan Records. Khan leads the psychedelic soul group King Khan and the Shrines, sporting white suits, capes and a cuddly potbelly. The pair's supergroup with the Black Lips, The Almighty Defenders, has a record due this fall. Sultan is blase about it all.
"When the tour is done, I'm cool just chilling here for a few months," he says. "I'm going to cook and eat and gain 700 pounds. Then I'm going to ride my skateboard down the street and kids are going to throw rocks at me."
The King Khan and BBQ Show, playing at the Evolve Festival on Friday and the Paragon on Saturday, isn't all work; they're also about dirty sex. The band's lyrics are a veritable Mad Libs for horny, weird boys: they riff on poop, fat girls, animals and orfices. And Sultan is quick to point out again that the girls should really try to make it up front.
"We want to see women smiling and moving," he says. "Looking at breasts will make you live longer, or so I've heard."