A few weeks ago What We Do Is Secret arranged the great two-day festival Summerfest and we had a talk with the coolest dude playing: King Khan. Naturally about food.
King Khan: We just played in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan. Yeah, I actually ate the weirdest shit I’ve ever eaten in my life. Oh, wait, [Khan farts], OH! As I said I ate the weirdest shit I’ve ever eaten.
So you’re still farting from your weird food?
I think so, it’s the cobra blood.
Yeah, that was crazy. Jakarta was my favorite place and before me and BBQ hit the stage we went out on a street-food quest. We ended up sharing a cobra snake. A fresh one! This twelve year old just whips it out of its cage and chops its head off and then drains his blood in a glass and puts its still beating heart, chops that up and puts it in a glass and takes out its spine and throw that in the glass and chop it up and then you’re suppose to drink it. So we drank it. Then they strip the meat off of it and barbecue the meat so you eat the whole cobra. And it was delicious.
That was in Jakarta?
Yeah, that was in Jakarta, yeah. And then after that we hit the durian. Durian is this stink fruit. I’ve always wanted to do that. After eating the cobra, I washed it down with half a durian. And you get wasted off a durian if you eat a lof of it, because it’s a bit alcoholized, because it’s fermenting inside of the thing. And I found out that the term ’popping a cherry’, you know, which is like the term for losing a virginity, in Indonesia, is ’breaking the durian’. That’s pretty weird because the smell is to be acquired. I actually enjoyed the smell of it, I in fact I tried to eat it in different formations, I had this like dumpling, a durian dumpling, it was like a donut, it was really nice. A custard donut. But it has a bit of a funk. [Khan spits]. That’s why I love China actually. In China you’ll see these noodle houses where there’ll be twenty guys with their shirts over their bellies smoking and eating noodles at the same time and spitting — in the restaurants. I’ve never seen so many people smoke and eat at the same time.
What do you feel like eating right now?
I definitely don’t feel like eating raw squid liver. That’s something I would never eat again. They serve it in Japan. It’s on those little conveyor belts. I think it’s one of those challenges. And I lost a challenge. I tried it twice. It’s like a squirt of cold blood mixed with chocolate and fish. And I unfortunately had the experience of having to throw that up in the morning. ’Cause I ate it really late at night, again. Because I thought I should conquer my fears with liver.
Yet you ate it twice?
I ate it twice, stupidly. The second time totally drunk and then woke up just throwing it into the sink and it was like an abortion out of my mouth. It was disgusting. Just raw liver coming out of your mouth, it’s almost like a Dario Argento.
It’s very Argento. So, have you had any food here yet?
You know what, I haven’t. I had a cheese sandwich which I made for my kids and they didn’t eat that I took on the train. No, wait, I did have some nice food here, they had some very weird pulled porky kind of thing with chick peas and it was almost Indonesian actually, some weird tastes in there that I didn’t recognize.
What kind of bread is Welfare bread?
Welfare bread is a reaction to welfare cheese. Welfare cheese is this cheese that, in America, you get if you’re on welfare, it’s this processed cheese and there’s this song about it, a soul song a long time ago and I thought I would write welfare bread to go with the welfare cheese. But it’s basically poor man’s bread. I don’t think you’d wanna eat it. There’s no nutritional value in it.
So what kind of cheese is it, though?
I think it’s a typical yellow, American, like cheddar, but it’s not real cheddar, it’s like made by Kraft. By some nazi scientists. Some Italian nazi scientists.
Italian nazi scientists?
Actually, who would be responsible for cheese? The Swiss, maybe? But they weren’t really nazis. One of them created LSD, though. I can’t believe I can’t remember the name of the person who invented LSD. It was LSD’s birthday not so long ago, a few months ago. Aldous Huxley was administered LSD on his death bed after he wrote a little note: ”LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular” and then died. Oh my god, I can’t believe I can’t remember who invented LSD.
I thought it was an American invention? Maybe I’m mixing it up with some other drug?
Yeah, you’re mixing it up with AIDS.
I’m thinking of crack, I think.
Oh, yeah yeah. That’s a CIA thing.
Where do you take your lady out to dinner?
Where they serve welfare bread. I take her home. I go home and I cook nice meals for her. It’s expensive to take the woman out. We like cooking for each other a lot. It’s like fore play, you know? Cook something nice, put a lot of passion into it, enjoy the flavors.
So what do you normally cook for her?
I love to cook lots of different foods. I like cooking Indian food, I like cooking Chinese food. These days we’ve been making really interesting salads, try to lose a couple of pounds. Yeah, cause you can’t live off the Indian and Chinese food. Goat cheese can go a long way. I’ve been doing this thing where I put corinths, they’re not raisins but they’re like mini raisins. And if you dump a whole bag of those in a glass of pastis, the liquor from France, Ricard, and leave it there for like a month it’s a very nice dressing on goat cheese salad. Put a little bit of goat cheese and heat up some pine nuts or sunflower seeds. You throw them on there and you sprinkle some of those raisins and pastis and with some goat cheese type of thing, they’re delicious. It’s a total afrodiziak, though. That’s one thing, my mother, she would never teach me how to cook, ’cause the rule was that I had to get married first. So that’s probably why I got married so early, when I was 22.
So she thought it was an afrodiziak as well?
Well, she didn’t want me to use it as an afrodiziak. Once I got married my grand mother and my mother showed me the ways.
How did that come about? Did you go there once a week to train?
No, I would go and visit every year or every two years and hang out and watch. A lot of Indian cooking is like painting, you know, it’s like throwing in colors into a pot. My grand mother never measured anyhing, she would just throw stuff in there and then taste it and then know what to do.
I got two kids and they’re incredible cooks and we just let them do it. A lot of parents are like, ”Oh no!” and ”You can’t”. I think you gotta give them their room as early as possible. My daughter, when she was six she was like ”Dad, I wanna make an apple pie!” and I was like ”Make an apple pie, go for it!” And I remembered she googled it and watched this explanation on some thing and I swear to god, it was the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted. And I’m not saying that just because I’m her father. Any kid at that age are gonna follow instructions and they’re gonna learn from it and then now she’s gonna be thirteen in a couple of days and she’s inventing things with no sugar, with only wheat-flour, that’s in her mind, you know, healthy stuff. She invented this thing called Apple drops, incredible breakfast food. Yeah.
So what’s in it?
If I say it, she’s gonna get angry. She’s turning thirteen this week, so you know what’s gonna happen. I get a summons and she’ll take me to court. I don’t think Ronald McDonald’s dad talked to much about… You take a piece of meat, you but some bread on it, put some cheese on it, my son is a very gifted clown but he’s also avery good chef! He’s a better chef than he is a clown. He scares the whole family but he entertains the whole world now. Actually I saw a Ronald McDonald in Japan, I think it was Japan, yeah, doing, like a hands together, like a Japanese greeting. It was very frightening, he changes his views wherever he goes. If they’d make one in Germany he’d be like sieg heil! That would be good for that artist, Banksy! He should do that!
So, what’s was your best afrodiziak, then? Was that the sallad you were talking about?
Afrodiziak, hm, my wife makes a mean gulasch. But usually you eat a lot of it so you don’t feel like making love afterwards. Feel like going to bed, watching a movie. Afrodiziaks… I guess alcohol has always been a pretty good afrodiziak. Chocolate is always wonderful. Motivational thing.
How do you spread your love like peanut butter? How is that exactly done?
That’s actually an homage to Iggy Pop. Cause of that concert that he does where he’s on top of the audience and someone gives him a can of peanut butter and he puts peanut butter all over his body. He disappears in the audience and then suddenly pops out like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of Detroit city. It’s definitively legendary punk rock stuff.
You say you wanna be a girl. Do you think your diet would be different if you were a girl?
Ooh, I would probably drink more red wine and eat more red beets. You know on particular parts of the month. Yeah, I would have to change my patterns, definitely.
You mean you would eat like color-wise?
I think so, I mean if your body’s putting out something you might have to put something of the same color back in? That’s probably medically inaccurate but guess I have more of a Van Gogh type of approach to medicine than most people. I might be saying this because I had leeches on my foot a few days ago when I was in Oslo, that’s something that shocked me.
You got leeches in Norway?
Yeah, at the lake. My body needed to be leeched, you know? It’s like karma. Divine intervention.
You got a Sweet tooth for something?
I do, actually I’ve shut down the sweet tooth because I had to. But normally I use to have a big sweet tooth. I use to eat a lot of sugary treats. And, it’s all poison now, it’s really scary when you read about how food is processed and manufactured. But I’m happy with my two kids, we raised them in a good way, trying to keep them away from these poisons. It’s possible to do that but it’s a crazy way, you know? You gotta be real smart. It’s terrible when you read about these hormones and shit in chocolate and it’s the worst people, it’s like Nestlé and all these fucking terrible companies, they’re murderers and I guess some kind of justice will happen sometime soon, but it seems like people are too weak to fight against these big things, you know? It’s sad.
I just read that Walmart is trying to build some kind of building in Alabama and it’s gonna use the dirt from the Native American monument. This really special Native American ground where people are buried, ancient warriors. They wanna use the dirt from that thing to fill in some Walmart. You know it’s like, I can’t even believe that that is an actual story. It’s like, what the fuck is happening? It’s really strange.
When I was a kid my grandmother use to say ”when I pass away you can go to the mountain and talk to me” so it’s suppose to be this really beautiful kind of exit or funeral ground, you know? But yeah, the world is a pretty sick place. But I think that, nature’s gonna eliminate those that have to be eliminated somehow.
So you think there’s gonna be an apocalypse?
Naw, not really, I don’t think it’s a massive apocalypse, I just think that the floods are gonna get bigger. It’s like this explosion that happened in Canada just recently, you know. They’re talking about fracking and all that shit. Major pipelines of flammable material going across the country. Humans are kind of stupid in a way. They’re idiots.
So this explosion was related to the fracking?
No, but it was a train full of fuel or something that exploded. It almost obliterated a whole city. I guess the powers that be are really idiotic.
They’re just looking for short-term profit, right?
Yeah, but hey, at least we’re alive in Sweden. Entertaining some wonderful people. Sweden’s pretty good about environmental stuff I guess, no?
We use to be a lot better, to be honest. Seven years ago we got a right-wing government and since then…
Oh yeah, really? So it’s super right-wing right here now?
It’s not super right-wing, it’s still…
Is Denmark right-wing? It appeared to me to be quite right-wing. We played there at the Roskilde Festival like twelve years ago and had some run-ins with some pretty fascistic kind of people but none in Sweden.
Well that’s growing everywhere in Europe because of the recession and in a recession you gotta have somebody to blame, you know?
Yeah, it’s like that everywhere. Except Germany! I find Germany’s quite a peace-loving place. I mean, I live in Berlin, so it’s not really a representation. If you go to East Germany, to small towns you probably have the same issue, with the Indians getting hunted and shit.
But every day is a new day you know, as long as the sun keeps rising. Put a smile on your face and do your thing. That’s the most important thing. Eat good food! That’s actually, it’s funny, I’ve been married thirteen years now and basically for me the biggest fun about it is to eat the good foods of the crazy places. Like I’ve been in Oslo for about a week now with my family visiting some friends and enjoying the brown cheese.
Yeah, I like the brown cheese too!
Brown cheese is amazing!
So you got a gig up there as well?
Yeah, after this gig, we’re just doing four gigs in Scandinavia right now and then we have a new album coming out in September and then we’ll come back to Scandinavia. We use to play here quite a bit but for some reason we started touring in America a whole bunch and that occupied a lot of our time and stuff. And I was pretty busy doing other stuff. But now with the new album you know we’re gonna take the whole world by storm again.
Do you have something special on your rider food-wise?
Oh. Ron, our percussion player, he’s in his sixties now and he doesn’t drink, but he will eat copious amounts of vanilla ice cream! I’ve seen him eat two or three liters of ice cream in one go. If you actually went and bought him ice cream you would make an old black man very happy. I don’t think they have vanilla ice cream at this festival. He use to work, as a child, in an ice cream factory, he eats so much ice cream, I have never seen. And he’s the healthiest in the band, too. I would definitely think that ice cream is a link to longevity and good health… He’s got a lot of fake teeth, though. His dentist bill was too much.
There’s a place in the city (Johannebergs glass) that makes their own ice cream that’s awesome.
Where is it? Is it near the hotel?
Where’s the hotel?
I don’t remember. I don’t even know the name of the hotel. I’m like a bat following my sound. Following my farts. My spitting. I’m glad you have recorded proof of my flatulence!
King Khan and The Shrines’ new album Idle No More is out on Merge on September 3rd.