Mark Sultan/BBQ

A long, long time ago, back when a little e-zine called Blank Generation still existed, I had a chance to interview Mark Sultan, who at that time was just embarking on his career as one man band BBQ, and talk about his illustrious career as both a Spaceshit and Sexareeno and just rock'n'roll in general. Now, eons later, he's wrapping up up his tenure as BBQ after two LPs and two singles, and is continuing to make with the authentic r-n-r along with his pal and fellow ex-Spaceshit Blacksnake as the King Khan and BBQ show. After hanging out with Mark on both one of the first dates of the BBQ & Blacksnake tour in Buffalo (an ill-fated one) and one of the last in Toronto (an incredible one), I figured it was time to catch up with him in print after picking his brain and hearing some great stories (and he's got some good ones). Regrettably, the drunken conversation (well, I was drunk) we had in Buffalo wasn't recorded for use in TB, so I caught up with him via e-mail when he got back to Montreal to touch on some of the finer points. If you haven't kept up, you can read the older and super-informative interview I did with him here. One of the true good guys in rock-n-roll these days, Mark's an extremely funny and friendly fella, and you should get in touch with him at marksultan@yahoo.com or scope out his new website here: www.marksultan.com . And jump on that BBQ & King Khan LP as soon as you get the chance...

TB: So you just got done with the BBQ & Blacksnake tour. How do you think it went? Any moments that stick out in particular?
Mark: I am very happy about the tourÖ It really was the best US tour Iíve ever been on. Nothing sticks out in particular, really. It was incredibly chock-full o nonsense. We played with great bands, had fun and people seemed to dig it.

TB: Will we be seeing more of the BBQ & Blacksnake thing, or was it a one-shot deal? Any more recordings coming out from you two?

Mark: Well, The King Khan & BBQ Show album is on its way out both on Goner and a Euro label called Hazelwood, so that should be around for a bit. Then thereís a single coming out on Solid Sex Lovie Doll. I donít think itís a one shot. Weíre really into recording some more stuff that we have. Iíd like to do more. I enjoy it. And as far as touring is concerned, weíll be doing Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, the US and hopefully Japan all this year.

TB: The second BBQ LP just came out recently as well. How is it dealing with/being on a legendary and somewhat large label like Bomp? Did you get a chance to deal with Greg Shaw directly before he passed away?
Mark: I dunno. I guess I donít think about it. Is it that big? Itís cool, cuz I dig a lot of stuff theyíve done. When I see the record, Iím proud and happy. But I donít really have a relationship or whatever with them. They just seem to have put the album out. To be honest, Iíve had my share of problems with them. Oh well. But Iím certainly grateful. And, ya, I was dealing with Greg before he died. He Ďsignedí me, which was really cool. Seemed like a real cool guy. He knew exactly where I was coming from and dug the shit for the right reasons. Iím kinda pissed that I never got to meet him. Iím sure I would have learned a shitload from him if we had ever hung out.

TB: Do you think being on Bomp got you any more exposure than what you already had?
Mark: The record just came out, so weíll have to see. Iím pretty sure more people will hear this record than my first, just because the distribution is bigger and there is a fan base for the label itself. Weíll see. Iím not really that concerned. If people wanna find something, they will. If people wanna dig on my shit, they will.

TB: Iíve heard you mention this will probably be the last BBQ record. Why?
Mark: As Iíve stated before, Iím just bored of it. And when I play with King Khan and see how much better the songs sound, it makes me pine for a band Ė a real band. I hate being seen solely as a Ďone-man bandí, and having the music disregarded cuz it happens to come from one guy, you know what I mean? Like when people are like, ĎGreat show, man! Sounded like Bob Log!í Now, I love Bob Log and all, but I donít sound like him. Itís like people canít get beyond the fact that Iím one guy. It sucks.

TB: Why the title ďTie Your Nooseí?
Mark: Honestly, I needed a title cuz the artwork was ready. I gave the artist 3 song namesÖ I guess that one was more aesthetically pleasing. But I like it. ĎIím coming to your town, to your turntable, get ready to hate me!í

TB: Any more BBQ material due to be released?
Mark: I might record something for Savage Records next month when Iím in Sweden. Probably a single, but Iím not sure if Iím gonna recruit other people to play on it. But I think thatís it.

TB: Will we be seeing you in another band any time soon (BBQ & Blacksnake aside)?
Mark: I hope so. Weíll see.

TB: How did you end up touring Brazil/South America?
Mark: That was about a year ago. I have a friend from Brazil who used to live in NYC. Marcelo from the great Sellouts. Anyway, we were talking a lot, and he finally suggested that I come down. He set up a tour with a band he had. It was the best. Iím going again with King Khan later this year.

TB: Whatís it like playing there? Do people know of you? Whatís the crowd reaction like?
Mark: Itís great, man. People go crazy. And there isnít as much cliquey cool-guy shit, yíknow? People seem to enjoy music as music. I was known by the fringes to a certain extent, but people just came out. All sorts of folks, just out to see a show and have fun. Great times, man. Apparently, people know me now. Iím excited to go back.

TB: Any ĎCity of Godí-like moments while you were there?
Mark: Itís pretty roughneck, for sure. But, itís got a rhythm to it. Once you settle in, youíre cool. I could get into a bunch of violent stories or impressions, but I think thatís being an ignorant North American. That country is way to beautiful for generalizations.

TB: Are Brazilian girls really as hot as we imagine?
Mark: Absolutely unbelievable. I have NEVER seen so many astonishing girls. Never. And Iím from Montreal!

TB: You seem to constantly be playing/on tour somewhere. Do you ever get tired of performing? Or is it more of a necessity, that you feel the need to be out there playing all the time? Ever think youíll stop?
Mark: It seems as though Iím constantly touring, but Iím not playing that much more than a lot of bands. Because Iím one guy, it all gets compounded. That being said, it is a lot, I guess. I love doing it, but this last stay in Montreal made me so happy that itís hard leaving yet again. I would love to get an apartment and settle down, but Iím a transient. Iím just outmaneuvering that cardboard box on the street-side, but itís catching up. I just love playing music. The money ainít hot, the lifestyle hurts my back sometimes, but itís what I love to do.

TB: Do you ever get that ďWhat the hell am I doing?Ē feeling when youíre in some remote European outpost and youíre playing for a bunch of people who donít even speak the same language for next to nothing, Iím assuming? I mean, youíre obviously not in it for the money and fame, what is it thatís driving you?
Mark: Hey, music is music. If you can dance and drink here, you can do it anywhere. Language barriers are fun. When youíre gesticulating to a bunch of people and understand more than you would talking bullshit and fronting, itís great. The moment I question my enjoyment of the music, Iíll stop. Iím seriously driven by people who listen to my shit, buy other records, start a band and keep it alive. Nihilist traditionalism, baby.

TB: A lot of people use the words Ďrealí and Ďauthenticí when describing your style of rock-n-roll. How do you do manage to get that genuine, no-bullshit sound/feeling to your songs all the time?
Mark: I donít aim to sound a certain way. When I pick up a guitar, certain songs come out. What you guys hear with ĎBBQí is pretty much anything Iím capable of doing as a one-man gang. I have a million other songs that Iím saving for a band, just cuz I canít do them myself. That Ďno-bullshití style is just how I sound. While I appreciate those kinds of comments, I do stress that Iím not some purist dude Ė Iíd do a grindcore song if it felt right falling from my hands and was good.

TB: What would you be doing if you werenít playing music?
Mark: I dunno. I donít care. I live for today.

TB: That video for ĎFish FightĒ is great. (Click here to go check it out.) Is that milk you guys are spitting in each otherís faces? Who shot it and where was it filmed?

Mark: Itís a mix of our jizz and some cream. Nah, itís like milk and corn syrup and water, I think. Our buddy David did it at his place in a few hours. That guyís great. Heís making another video for ĎWaddliní Aroundí as we speak. Check his shit out: www.safetypin.ca

TB: A friend was listening to the new LP and said you had a ďFreddie Fender thingĒ going on. Any comment on that?
Mark: Ouch.

TB: Howís playing in Montreal these days? Any better than it was during the Spaceshits days?
Mark: Ya, itís great playing here. There have always been a surplus of cool bands here, but I think the Ďsceneí is finally getting a bit more respect. Lots of people turn out to shows. Iím proud. God knows we all worked for that shit. But, unfortunately, because of this new fake hype bullshit in the US media, Montreal is Ďthe new Seattleí, whatever the fuck that means. This city is already pay to play, so I fear now the prices might skyrocket and when the hype blows over, weíll still be paying out the ass. Montreal rules, though.

TB: Are we getting any closer to seeing some unreleased Spaceshits stuff on record?
Mark: When everyone was here a few months ago I tried to consolidate everything from everyone, but couldnít succeed. Me and Choyce are planning on restarting Sultan Records (bands can e-mail me: marksultan@yahoo.com) and we were planning on doing some Spaceshits stuff. But I canít track down everything that, a year ago, was at my fingertips. Soon, though. But Greg Lowery doesnít get back to me anymore. He has a whole fuckin album!!!

TB: What was the deal with that ĎRadioshits R-N-Rí LP? Did you guys know it was being released, or is it an outright bootleg/Ēfan clubĒ release?
Mark: That was released by some Italian label. As far as Iím concerned, itís a bootleg, as he didnít have permission and didnít even ask. Tongues (Spaceshits) sent the guy a tape, cuz he Ďwanted to hear ití. Then he just released it! Cunt. At least be sneaky! We knew it was him and I called him out. His olive branch? He sent us 5 copies!

TB: What can we expect as far as unreleased stuff on the upcoming Sexareenos CD on Sympathy?
Mark: 28 songs. All the singles, but some tracks have been replaced with alternate versions. Then there are alternate LP tracks, unreleased songs recorded in Seattle and Japan, and a live cover of ĎWhite Light, White Heatí from France. It should be out in weeks.

TB: Since ďDeath-A-ReenosĒ will probably never happen, can you at least tease us with some of the songs that wouldíve been on it?
Mark: Nope. Iím using mind-control to make sure it happens one day. Itíll put a smile on your face.

Interview by Rich Kroneiss
Live pic by Dale Nixon