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King Khan

Rocking Like a Hurricane

Rock íní roll is alive and well with King Khan and the Shrines, the Berlin-based outfit that returns to San Francisco with its big-band psychedelic boogie March 28th at Great American Music Hall. Khan spoke with SF Station shortly after his tour started during a phone interview from New York.

SF Station (SFS) : Howís the tour treating you?

King Khan (KK) : Pretty good. We started off in Washington, D.C., and my trumpet player missed his grandpaís 80th birthday that first day. His grandpa is a big fan of Obama, so we went to the White House for a quick picture. A guy working at the White House is a fan and recognized me. I asked him if he could get us in the White House, and he was able to give us an escort. We saw the Truman bowling alley and Michelle Obama walking her dog in the back yard.

SFS: You are starting to get a little celebrity pull.

KK: Itís pretty crazy. People at the White House are listening to our shit. Now itís cool; it wouldnít have been cool during the last eight years.

SFS: You had a pretty wild show last time you were in SF with a topless woman on stage. Is that normal?

KK: People really enjoy getting buck wild at our shows and Iím fully in support of it. But that was one of our finest shows ever. Jello Biafra came out and we did a song with him. All of us grew up loving the Dead Kennedys. I really love Oakland and San Francisco and have great respect for everyone who made music there in the past and now.

SFS: How does it feel to have a big horn section backing you every night?

KK: Itís great. Thatís why it makes for a boring show if the audience doesnít give back what we give to them. For example, during that show in San Francisco, I remember looking out into the audience and seeing a couple making out and there was what looked like a circle pit around them. It was so weird and funny to see all of the different emotions running through peoplesí bodies. Itís like a hurricane.

SFS: Is it hard to stay focused with all of that commotion?

KK: Not if you constantly surround yourself with it. Our first show on this tour was a bit boring because the audience was more reserved. Itís more fun when people are going nuts, but there are instances when it feels like we are just doing the rounds.

SFS: Have you always aimed for wild shows or did you start out more straight-laced?

KK: The first lineup was a lot of nuns and mostly choral music. No, itís always been pretty wild. Everyone in the band puts their whole deal into it and flips out. The last couple of shows ended with a big ball of flesh onstage with instruments poking out.

SFS: Do you really only have one cell phone for the entire band?

KK: I donít have a cell phone at all, and the other guys have European cell phones at home. We only have one right now. I think itís really bad for your health and I donít understand why people promote it so much.

SFS: Why?

KK: I donít know, it gives off dangerous radiation. Itís microwaves or something. I canít explain it. I just donít like to have one, just like I donít like to have expensive sunglasses.

King Khan & the Shrines perform at Great American Music Hall on May 28th. Tickets are $15. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm.