Garage punk tycoon and revivalist Mark Sultan chats to Ella Jackson from his home country Canada about past and present bands, his pseudonym BBQ, drugs, and of course, his coming Australian tour.
Having toured Australia once before with King Khan, Mark has had a chance to observe the differences between his Australian fans and his US fans. He explains that the US fans have seen him play more, and thus probably react from a different perspective, “the folks in Australia actually remind me of the crowds here in Canada – fun, crazy, cool, but reasonable.”
When questioned about his knowledge of the Australian music scene, he draws a bit of a blank, admitting that it probably only covers our 60’s back catalogue, although surprisingly he hasn’t heard of our Devil’s Children compilations. Blue Stars, Missing Links, The Saints, Razar and The News all get mentions. “I really like it. My favourite 60’s shit is in this order actually: US, AUS/NZ, Holland, Canada, UK.”
Having played in and alongside a lot of bands that are known for being rowdy over the years (Spaceshits, The King Khan & BBQ Show, Almighty Defenders and Black Lips just to name a few), you can imagine that Mark has seen a lot of fucked up shit in his time. He doesn’t go into detail about any of these adventures, but confirms that he has seen his share of arrests when on tour. When asked which of these bands are his favourite to play with, he replies, “I like playing in all the things I have done or I wouldn’t bother.”
He goes on to reveal that recently, playing in The King Khan & BBQ Show and Almighty Defenders has brought the most craziness for him, but as that has been about 90% of his touring for the past two years, he hasn’t got a whole lot to compare it to of late.
Mark’s experience in bands goes far beyond all the ones you have heard of though. He was only 11 or 12 when he played in his first band, ‘The Biffs’.
“We played very spazzy, fast shit with like spazzy beach boys ‘harmonies’. The singer, Kevin, was a great dude. His parents were super religious though, so when we covered like The Misfits’ ‘Where Eagles Dare’, he could NOT get himself to sing the swears. Awesome!”
Although he loves collaborating with other musicians, Mark has to leave some time for his solo work. “I enjoy playing my own stuff, ‘cause I can tame it like a lion, or fuck it like a whore.”
When writing his songs, the music or the melody always comes first. He admits that half the time he’s just trying to find words that fit his babble as he strums his guitar. He won’t admit to taking any illicit drugs to enhance his ‘artistic flow’, though. “Your customs folks would eat this answer like LSD!” He laughs.
It’s always refreshing to hear what your favourite musician was listening to at age 14 – knowing that even somebody so cool was once at least a little bit lame. But you’ll have no such luck reading this interview, sadly.
“I was never into horribly cheesy shit. I guess the worst things I can think of in my childhood (worst meaning someone will find it cheesy, not so much me) are maybe Iron Maiden or Venom or I don’t know… 7 Seconds or something. I was lucky. By the time I was 14, I had already seen a bunch of punk shows; yet never saw any show with a capacity over 200 people. So I missed out on arena rock and chart-popping bullshit.”
These days, Mark mainly listens to older, 60’s garage punk stuff when he’s listening intently. Although he has a love for friends’ bands Demon Claws, Black Lips, Spits, Strange Boys and Bloodshot Bill, just to name a few.
For those of you curious as to how he came up with the pseudonym BBQ, the story can be traced as far as eight years ago.
“It’s not a great story, unfortunately. I was in Europe, and someone wanted to book me. I had no name and I didn’t want to use my name. I was kinda hungry, (I’m a fat dude), and blurted ‘BBQ’. Not the best decision, but done! Must have been shroomin’!”
Thursday 10 February
Goodgod Small Club
with Dead Farmers + The Nugs
Friday 11 February
The Step Inn
A Mere Noise Records party featuring The Horrortones
Saturday 12 February
with M.O.T.O (USA), the UV Race, Rodney and the Rumours
Tickets available from the Corner Box Office (03) 9427 9198 or www.cornerhotel.com <http://www.cornerhotel.com>
Thursday 17 February
with Frowning Clouds and Town Hall
Saturday 19 February
with special guests