After wreaking havoc across Europe for close to a decade, partying with 50 Cent in Norway, and occasionally being forced to flee the police after particularly chaotic performances, King Khan and the Shrines are ready to concentrate on North America.
“We’ve been touring extensively in Europe for the past eight years and having lots of fun,” Khan says, on the line from an Atlanta tour stop. “But it was always a dream to bring what we do to [North] America since that’s where it all actually came from, the type of music [we play], that is. And I hope it has the same effect for us that it did for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.”
Ambitious words perhaps, but the Berlin-based outfit is certainly stirring up its share of pandemonium on these shores, as evidenced by Khan’s description of the previous night’s show in North Carolina.
“People were punching each other in the face, making out, slap-dancing, even bumpin’ ’n’ grindin’—it was like a punk version of Satyricon.”
While it isn’t exactly Altamont, it’s still an impressive showing for the European export, and one that confirms the formerly Montreal-based Khan’s mantra: “We try to keep it soulful, and we try to keep it dangerous.”
On the soul front, the just-released The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines does indeed offer up a fine sampling of sexy, swaggering James Brown–brand funk. A compilation of the ensemble’s earlier singles and albums, the horn-powered disc drips with sexual innuendo, with lyrics like, “Man, she’s so sweet” from “Sweet Tooth” suggesting that Khan has spent a night or two south of the border. If the frontman is able to get away with such lines as, “My baby’s fat and ugly, but I love her” in the intentionally inappropriate booty-quaker “Took My Lady to Dinner”, it’s only because he practically oozes charisma.
Having mastered the art of taking rude ideas and blending them with rhythms so catchy that his vulgarity seems charming, Khan is admittedly looking forward to playing to audiences that can fully appreciate his talents.
“I have this whole erotic, psychedelic gospel that I play up, and sometimes little details get lost with language,” he says.
Need an example? You won’t do much better than this, which is offered up with the glee of a sixth grader who has just discovered the word booby: “People in Europe don’t really understand what a tea bag is.”
King Khan and the Shrines play the Red Room on Monday (July 14).