King Khan rocks out at school BBQs

By Jordyn Marcellus

Anish “King” Khan — the King Khan in the King Khan and The BBQ Show — has a few heirs apparent to his throne.

The Indo-Canadian, Berlin-based regal rocker is a proud pappy to a small crew of ragamuffins. When he speaks about his kids, his voice is bright and energetic — which is good, considering an ugly stint in Kentucky that the band is still trying to put behind them.

“It was just stupid southern police — I’d rather not talk about it,” he says.

Despite the ugliness, there’s still some light at the end of the tunnel for Khan, who spends upwards of a month or two at a time on the road promoting his numerous records. Even though he’s travel so much, his music career allows him one great boon — he gets all the time he wants to spend with his kids when he’s home. While he leaves it all onstage during his time on the road, he gets to play the stay-at-home dad in a much more sedate place.

“This past year has been kind of tough because I haven’t seen them as often as I like to,” says Khan. “Normally it works out pretty good. I go on tour for a month or two then go back. When I’m at home I get to hang out with them the whole time and just be there . . . I love that. It’s much better than working in an office and coming home tired and, y’know, get to spend time with them.”

Befitting his profession, Khan is occasionally tasked with an important mission — playing his child’s school barbecue. For audiences who’ve seen him live — occasionally with him in drag — it can be surprising considering some of the more riotous moments that Khan has had in the past.

Tour mate BBQ (nee Mark Sultan) and Khan played in the famously raucous Montreal act the Spaceshits, who got backlisted from every Montreal club due to their mischief. Bottles were thrown, firecrackers lit — needless to say, Khan chills out a bit when playing for a child audience.

“I’ve played at my kid’s elementary school a couple of times and the kids flip out for rock ‘n’ roll,” he says. “For sure you play different songs. You tone it down a bit. I mean, we played for handicapped kids once and that was amazing.”

Of course, any musician’s child gets to experience their parent’s musical influences. For a musician like Khan — listening to Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling” in the car during the interview — there’s a wide, diverse range of bands to expose the kids to.

“They know about all sorts of music,” he says. “My older daughter, when she was six or seven months, before she was even talking she knew how to put records on the record player. I just played Buddy Holly every morning [and] she used to get up and put the record on the record player and put on the same Buddy Holly album thirty times every day — which made Buddy Holly almost impossible to listen to. Now we can appreciate Buddy again.”

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