King Khan Brings His Revolution Back To Houston
King Khan. Photo: Miron Zownir
Even though we’re people of the South, there’s a really good chance you’ve never heard of The Invaders. The militant civil rights group who met with Dr. Martin Luther King before his death have had their story suppressed for so long that most don’t know of their existence. This Spring, their story will finally be told through a documentary by the same name from Prichard Thomas Smith. It came as no surprise to find out, that the always politically outspoken King Khan had been tapped to do the soundtrack work for The Invaders, while also releasing a series of seven-inch singles in conjunction with touring in support of their release. Free Press Houston was more than thrilled to get to speak with Khan about the project and what he has in store for Houston this weekend.
FPH: The last time we spoke, you had just released a new album with the Shrines and you were touring pretty heavily. You’ve since dropped a King Khan and BBQ Show album, toured through Houston twice with him, and now you’re dropping a series of 7-inch singles and a new collaboration with William S. Burroughs long lost Naked Lunch recitations. Does the King Khan train ever slow down?
King Khan: This train is bound for glory. I think the world is in a state of emergency and I try to be the opiate for the masses, as well as exorcising the activist in my soul. I believe rock n’ roll is the ultimate salvation that has pushed all sexual and racial boundaries and has always united the world in the best trance. And I will continue preaching savage rock n’ roll till the day I die!
FPH: You have the distinct honor of releasing a series of seven inches that are inspired by the documentary on The Invaders that will be coming out soon. How did you get involved with the project, and has anyone explained why it’s taken so long for their story to be told?
King Khan: I was personally asked by the leader and founder of The Invaders, John B. Smith. He had heard my music from the director and asked for me. It was the like a call of duty — biggest honor ever. The Invaders story has been hidden from the public because it shows another side of Dr. King, the radical side which certain people felt would tarnish his reputation. The Invaders work impressed Dr. King so much so that he made them a part of the poor people’s campaign.
This film is a really beautiful piece of work, I even got Melvin Van Peebles to watch it and he called it a “work of genius!” To receive such high praise from the father of revolutionary black cinema is pretty badass!
FPH: Did you get to meet all four of them — Coby Smith, Calvin Taylor, John Smith and Charles Cabbage — while you worked on the soundtrack?
King Khan: I was and still am in close contact with John B. Smith. He really adopted Prichard and I like his own sons and the life advice he gives me is something I cherish very much.
FPH: The new single, “Children of The World” sounds like it could’ve come out back when The Invaders were still active, was that the focus when you were making the song?
King Khan: The song is actually made with samples from “Right On Part 1 and 2” by Syl Johnson and Jimmy Jones. My sound engineer Nene Baratto and I put it all together and were really stoked to be able to share credit with Syl. The focus on the whole soundtrack was to create real southern rock and soul, to get a real feeling of pure revolution music from the late ’60s. One of my favorite soul compilations is called “Chains and Black Exhaust” and it features really heavy Jimi-inspired southern fried soul. Sadly, that genre of music was all killed in Vietnam, since it was mostly poor kids who were forced to go there. It makes me sick to even think how many genius kids of rock n’ roll of all colors were all killed by the war machine.
FPH: You’ve always had a message behind your music and I read that the song is about police brutality. Do you think we’ll see a day when human rights are more important than man’s law?
King Khan: I believe that for every bad racist big mouth out there, there are 10 times more people who silently make this world livable. Of course, you never hear their stories because the news is so corrupt.
Look up the Equal Justice Initiative, for example. People are really trying to fight the terrible money grubbing power structure. I really believe that my children’s generation will save the planet.
FPH: It’s been three years since the Shrines played here in Houston, the last time being an electrifying set at Free Press Summer Fest. What do you guys have planned for your return to the bayou city?
King Khan: Pure unadulterated perverse rock and soul; eyegasm accompanied by aural orgasms! I aim to please and leave the audience wetter than ever before.
You can gain a lot from Khan’s words while realizing that the passion in his words resonate more now than ever before. In a time where many bands use activism as a commodity to sell out corporate named arenas, King Khan is spreading his message one small club appearance at a time. You can catch the magnifying live show that is a King Khan & the Shrines performance, this Saturday, July 2 at Walters. The all ages show with doors at 8 pm will also host a set from Giorgio Murderer and Eli Winter, and tickets are between $16 and $20.