I have an instant fear of any band that looks even the slightest bit gimmicky. If a band is putting a lot of effort into looking different or quirky, or trying to make their lyrics funny, I assume they’re overcompensating for not being able to write or play decent music. A mate sent me a Youtube clip of The King Kahn and BBQ Show and I saw two dudes in cheesy Mexican wrestling outfits, complete with nipple holes. I couldn’t have been more ready to dismiss them.
The fact that the entire band is two blokes playing guitar, one play playing a simple snare/kick drum kit with his feet, only made me more sceptical. But bugger me if once I got past all that surface quirk, I didn’t found myself actually liking the music. Liking it enough to make me want to hear an entire album The King Kahn and BBQ Show in action, with Bad New Boys.
Even in studio/album mode, their music is nothing more than two blokes playing jangly guitars, one play playing a simple snare/kick drum kit with his feet. But they really do wring a whole lot out of that stripped back approach. Alone Again and Illuminations have too much energy to be held back by a lack of instrumentation. And their unique approach to backing vocals with almost tribal chants ads a strange, but effective dimension.
From the punk mariachi of Kiss My Sister’s Fist, to the faux-50s doo-wop of Bye Bye Bhai, the Minutemen like punk rock of D.F.O, to the guitar pop of We Are the Champion, to the 12 bars blues of Ocean of Love, they also manage to find a surprising amount of variations and musical styles within their limited instrumental resources.
After watching the above mentioned video of The King Kahn and BBQ Show, I wasn’t surprised that I ultimately liked Bad News Boys. What did surprise me was that it’s filled with all of the things that I expect from a gimmick heavy band. Because this thing is full of cheap gimmicks. Having said that, it’s also backed up by really cool songs that make it easy to look past the gimmick and appreciate the solid song writing underneath all that quirk.