Interviewed by Chris Martin (Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
MGM: The band emerged onto the metal scene back in the mid-90s under the moniker Holy Moses and released two albums, ‘Latitude Zero’ and ‘Rock’n Roll Forever’ before changing the name to Killer Khan. After the name change you released ‘Kill Devil Hills’ in 1999 to much media praise. The following year ‘Rock ‘n Roll Forever’ was re-released under the name Killer Khan. Soon after the band disappeared without a trace
What happened to the band at this point?
Killian Khan: It was so difficult back in those days to be able to support any kind of recording in and around the North Carolina area. I mean back then Charlotte wasn’t exactly the most metal friendly place in the universe, so it was hard to keep things rolling and to keep your chin up and try to keep the band together. Eventually you get tired of the struggle though it was a lot of fun while it lasted.
We did write another album which never was recorded- maybe someday it will be. We disband around 2001 – 02 and everyone went their separate ways at that point
MGM: Killer Khan was often seen as Killian Khan’s band. Were you the main songwriter and were the other musicians just studio players?
KK: Yes, I was the main songwriter of the band and it was a lot of work arranging songs and coming up with different ideas to write about. I’ve always been fortunate to be able to come with some interesting guitar riffs and musical melodies to keep that traditional metal flavor alive in our music anyway. As for the rest of the band we did use an occasional studio drummer but that was about it as far as studio musicians go.
MGM: Are those guys still active in music and do you still work with any of them in any capacity?
KK: Unfortunately my main partner in crime Drake passed away back in 2006. He was out on the lake in his favorite pontoon boat and he and the 2 guys he was with decided to stop at a small island for a breather and then they discovered the boat had drifted off a bit. Drake jumped in to swim after it and I don’t know if he made it to the boat or not but he started yelling for help. The current was so bad the guy that jumped in after him had to stop or he would’ve drowned as well.
It was a very sad day for me and his family of course, we had just been talking a few weeks earlier about reforming the band, but after this happened it was hard to think of doing anything like that without him so it was put on the shelf for another decade or so.
The others I haven’t seen in years; I know the drummer is in New Mexico and the guitarist is in Tennessee I think.
MGM: The second and last release under the Killer Khan name in 2001 was a re-release of ‘Rock ‘n Roll Forever’ originally released in 1996 under the Holy Moses name. Why did you decide to re-release it under the Killer Khan name?
KK: I decided to do that to replace the name or moniker on the disc. I didn’t know back when we used the “Holy Moses” name that someone else had already used it, so just out of respect I wanted the name changed on the disc. Also we went in and changed a few things on the disc. To me it turned out a lot better after we went in and did the improvements.
It will probably be a candidate for reissue here in a few years, plus I have another albums worth of material no one has heard or has a copy of.
MGM: The 1990s was a bad time for heavy metal, especially in America. The musical landscape was much different from now and seemed to have no interest in heavy metal.
Did you find the decade to be a difficult time to be in a heavy metal band, certainly one playing a more traditional style?
KK: Yes I do remember it being pretty bad as far as finding venues to perform; you almost needed your own venue to get a gig, like I said before it was bad especially here in the southeast corner of the U.S. We did the best we could. Back then I could get airplay all over the planet except here. I don’t know if it is still that way but we’re definitely going to test the waters especially after the new “Global Killer” disc comes out.
MGM: Internet was still uncharted territory for metal. As the new millennium approached a new frontier of sorts for heavy metal was being discovered. A new interest in everything metal was growing due to the internet. However the downside was that a lot of U.S. bands coming on to the scene in the 90s became lost during this renaissance period. Many found it difficult to transition from the old ways of how bands conducted themselves to the new ways of the internet age.
Would you agree with this theory and did such events lead to the disappearance of Killer Khan?
KK: Yes there is a big difference between now and then as far as drawing an audience and maybe keeping one. Everything I did to promote the band back in the 90’s I think still exists, it may cost me more to do it now or it may be less, I have yet to test the waters as far as that goes. I know the Heaven and Hell label has been doing a lot promotion for the “Kill Devil Hills” reissue. I haven’t had a lot of time to ask the questions I need to ask probably as far as promotion goes; I’ve been so emerged in writing and recording this new “Global Killer” album that the essential tools for promotion have yet to catch up with me. Like I said earlier the reason we disbanded in the first place was more to do regionally more than the internet or globally.
MGM: There is a story about you being contacted by Ozzy Osbourne’s son Jack Osbourne. How did this come about? Was the band even active by this point?
KK: Yes we were still active at that time. I don’t know if it was his son or not that had sent me an email, but I did get a weird email from a record label and I think it was Deep South or Down South Records, I’m not really sure now it’s been so long ago.
Anyway I get this email that says “you should be crucified and burned at the stake”, and nobody signed a name to it, so time passes by about a year or two and I was watching an episode of the “Osbournes” and they were doing the episode on his son’s record label and the goings on that surrounded it and low and behold I see the name of his record company and it was the same that had sent me the go to hell email.
As I said I don’t know if he did it or not but somebody there surely did.
I can’t imagine why they would send me an email like that; sometimes you strike a nerve I suppose.
MGM: Several years later after the disappearance of Killer Khan Heaven and Hell Records tracks you down and expresses interest in re-mastering and re-issuing ‘Kill Devil Hills’.
What where your first thoughts on this idea? What can you tell us about the project?
KK: I was surprised really. I had no idea that people were laboring to try to find us. I suppose we weren’t that easy to find since they had been looking for ten years, and it’s funny and coincidental that we had been toying with the idea of doing a new album since October of last year. I thought it was around New Years but my girl friend told me I’ve been messing with this for a whole year now.
But getting back to the “Kill Devil Hills” reissue; I thought it was great that a label would want to re-master and reissue the CD, it’s a great sounding disc and I’m very proud of it, it took a lot of work to make it the great sounding disc that it is. Jamie King did a great job re-mastering it and that’s why I chose him and his studio to record the new album.
MGM: The re-issue has new updated artwork. Was this your decision or the labels? Does the new artwork have any meaning or concept behind it?
KK: That was the label’s decision. I think back in the early days of smuggling liquors the nickname for whiskey was “Kill Devil” and of course the ships would run ashore out on the coast of North Carolina. When ships wound crash onto the rocks the wreckage would be scavenged and the illegal liquor would be hidden behind the sand dunes on shore until it could be disburse.
That’s where the area and town with the same name resides.
So you have the whiskey and the sand dunes and that’s where “kill devil hills” comes from, and you have the ship running aground in the picture. So it works well together I think..
MGM: Are there any plans to give the same reissue treatment to ‘Latitude Zero’ and ‘Rock ‘n Roll Forever’?
KK: I wouldn’t think “Latitude Zero” but I do believe “Rock n’ Roll Forever” will definitely be re-issued, it’s a great disc also and deserves to be updated sound wise. we May do this in between the “Global Killer” release and the next album after that. Toward the end of next year maybe, but we were also thinking of a live disc which might be interesting as well.
MGM: You began to put together a new line-up back in January with all new members. What caused you to decide to reform a Killer Khan band now all these years later?
KK: Well there does seem to be a craving by the public in general for the older bands of the 80’s and 90’s.
A lot of the 80’s bands are really starting to show the wear and tear of the road; not in their appearance but mainly in how they sound now, a lot of it is waning if you know what I mean. I guess the next logical step is to find the bands that were around in the 90s that can still perform at a high level where you know you’re going to get your money’s worth and have a great time when you go out to the rock venue of your choice and pay good money to see these bands suit up. We can still knock it out of the park on a nightly basis if need be especially with the new line up.
MGM: Can you tell us a little about the new line-up? Did you consider bringing in any of the original guys used?
KK: The only one I think would have done that is Drake and he is no longer with us. The new line-up is as tight and professional as you can get. Ron Dalton one of the lead guitarists has been jamming with me for over 25 years now, he came in the Killer Khan around the time it was about to implode back in 2001. Along with Brice Sandahl on bass and Jody Rumple on drums it makes for a huge wall of sound. And let’s not forget Ron Dalton Jr the other lead guitarist, he made the final 5 in the Sam Ash Guitars-Steve Vai guitar contest out in Los Angeles, so he is a monster guitarist just like his old man.
MGM: Currently Killer Khan is in the studio with well known engineer Jamie King. How did that come about and how is the progress coming along?
KK: It came about from the connection Jamie has with the Heaven and Hell label. A few months back he re-mastered the “Kill Devil Hills” CD and that’s how I got to know of him and things kind of went from there. I heard how well things turned out on the re-issue and decided to give it a try over at Jamie King’s studio.
Everything has turned out great and has exceeded my expectations and then some. Everyone that I mentioned in your previous question performed on this recording; the drums sound tremendous as does the bass, and the guitars are huge, the lead playing was a like a shark feeding frenzy, it was one great lead after the next, Ron Dalton Jr’s brother Lorin even got in a couple, it was totally awesome and a lot of fun.
MGM: What are the plans for the upcoming album? What can you tell us about it?
KK: We hope to have it out by the end of October, right now I think that’s pushing it but we are definitely going to give it all of our effort to do so. The final mix down should be in the next two weeks and I can’t wait to hear that, it already sounds great in the rough mix. After that we can spring the “Global Killer” disc on the universe.
MGM: As we come to an end for now, is there anything you would like to add or say to our readers?
KK: Yes I do. We appreciate everyone having an interest in the band after all of this time. We never thought we’d be back in this situation with all of the support and everyone inquiring about the status of the band. I expect you’ll be hearing a lot out of us very soon, with songs like “Guns of the Navarone”, “The Last Train to Rio”, and “Frederic Fuckin’ Chopin” on the upcoming disc. The future may be bright indeed and we look forward to performing these in front the old fans and all of the new ones as well.
Thanks for having us