King Khan: "Somehow I Guess Lou Reed Was My Evil Mother"
"Somehow I guess Lou Reed was my evil mother."
In the wake of Lou Reed's death, Arish Ahmad Khan couldn't help but shade his stories - that span from his juvenile delinquency to the years that went into making his latest record - with memories of the rock poet who is still spawning reverent bands today.
Khan, better known by his stage name King Khan, plays a revved-up garage/funk/soul hybrid with his band The Shrines. Idle No More, the band's latest and first for Merge Records, was released in September.
"We've got a really good reaction to the record," says Khan, from a tour stop in Alabama. "A lot of it has to do with dealing with a lot more pain and suffering and some tragedies that happened. In a lot of ways, the new record documents a whole healing process that had to occur."
In an interview before the band's Wednesday, November 13, at Crescent Ballroom, the Canadian-born, Berlin-residing, self-mythologizing singer talked about the indigenous rights movement that spawned the album's title, writing songs in tribute to friends who died, why the 10-person band lugs itself across the world to perform, and of course, the late Lou Reed.
"Lou really means a lot to me. I remember the first time I got arrested, when I was 18, was because I shoplifted a Velvet Underground record. Because I was 18, I didn't have to tell my parents, but my mom found the court papers in my dirty laundry. Somehow the only tape she keeps in the car on repeat is a copy of that record," Khan says.
Growing up in Montreal, Khan spent a lot of time with a couple close friends on the Kahnawake Mohawk Indian reservation, where he says much of his "juvenile delinquency training" occurred.
One of those close friends passed away while Khan was working on the album, and he began reading a lot about Canada's indigenous population.
"While I was writing this record, I started reading a lot about what the Idle No More movement was going in Canada," he says. "I was impressed by that and happy. I was really happy to see indigenous people rising above and trying to better their situation on the reservation, which are worse in some cases than third world countries. It was shocking to see how they were getting little or no media coverage for all the awesome things they were doing, so I wanted to bring it some attention."