How did a 15-year-old song by this Montreal duo suddenly blow up on TikTok?

We asked King Khan and BBQ, currently on the road completing a 30-date tour, about their viral TikTok hit (from 2007) “Love You So.”

There’s probably little crossover between people who loved Montreal indie during the aughts and those who spend hours on TikTok. But whoever happens to be caught in the middle of that Venn diagram must’ve been VERY stoked upon hearing “Love You So” by the King Khan & BBQ Show soundtracking many a TikTok video over the past few months.

Both former members of the hilariously named Montreal band Spaceshits, the retro-indebted garage rock duo (also known for dabbling in doo-wop and rhythm & blues) have been well-established here for years now — though King Khan has been based in Berlin since 2005. Though their last full-length album was 2015’s Bad News Boys, they’re currently on the road completing a 30-date North American tour.

Fast forward to today, and their 2007 tune has been used in more than 22 million videos on the platform. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a bouncy piece of music to soundtrack a funny TikTok, or it’s become extremely overplayed and annoying. If you need proof, just look at the comments for the original “Love You So” video — one that features Khan wearing a Habs jersey in front of the Brandenburg Gate — on YouTube.

“Love You So” by the King Khan & BBQ Show

We talked with both King Khan (real name Arish Khan) and BBQ (real name Mark Sultan) via email about the song’s sudden viral fame, and how that has impacted the duo. The responses we got were nothing short of hilarious (even though they don’t exactly love TikTok), so we’re sharing them as a Q&A in all their glory. Enjoy.

Dave MacIntyre: Where were you when you first discovered “Love You So” was gaining momentum on TikTok, and how did you react?

Mark Sultan (BBQ): The first iteration of the whole thing I had seen was some kind of body-shaming trend for kids. I dunno… not my thing.

King Khan: I peed off the balcony late at night and by mistake urinated on a bunny, who ran off, stopped after a few steps and stared at me, it was frightening. What is TikTok?

DM: What are some of your favourite videos you’ve seen so far of people using the song?

KK: An Italian astronaut made a taco in space in zero gravity groovin’ to our music.

MS: I saw a funny dog one once? I honestly don’t watch them. They hurt my brain.

DM: What is it about that song that you think resonates with people enough to use it in that way?

KK: The music we do is timeless. It’s like a portal that opens up and you find yourself lost in harmonic bliss and have no idea what time it is ‘cuz you’re having so much fun and time don’t mean sheeeit!

MS: I don’t think the song means anything to these folks. It’s just a trend. It could just have easily been a fart noise or a KC LMNOP song or a Q-Bert sound effect.

DM: How did the song come about in the first place?

MS: The actual song? The creation of it? I dunno… I wrote it 20 years ago, or so. It was part of a succession of material we were making when we first started playing as this band. 

DM: Where were you when you performed the song live for the first time, and how did the crowd respond to it?

MS: It was just another song in our set. People liked it, I guess?

DM: How much has the song’s TikTok popularity sparked newfound interest in your music?

MS: It didn’t do much, as far as interest goes. That can be verified currently, on a U.S. tour. It’s business as usual. 

KK: Many friends of ours told me that their young children are blasting our music from their rooms, so maybe in 20 years rock n’ roll will be cool again!

The King Khan & BBQ Show

DM: Were you guys big users of the platform before you discovered your song was going viral on it?

MS: I’m almost 50.

KK: Is that a serious question?

DM: How much has “Love You So”’s viral popularity on TikTok changed your relationship with the song?

MS: It had really made me resent it somehow, and feel like I had lost connection with it.

KK: Well, luckily the song hasn’t been ruined by overplaying in my world. It’s hard to believe it was streamed 200 billion times — so many songs get ruined by overplaying. Like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which is a brilliant song, but hearing it a gazillion times ruins anything. It turns into torture…. But I haven’t heard that song recently, so I still love it. Especially the version by the Slits.

DM: Are there any Montreal bands you want to shout out who you think deserve to have their own TikTok viral success story?

KK: I wouldn’t wish this fate upon anyone. Oh wait: I hope Bloodshot Bill has a viral hit, and then we can build him a statue made of spaghetti bolognese where his balls are the meatballs. Capische? 

MS: I wouldn’t wish this on any band I am friends with or like. It’s surprising to me that music journalists find merit in this, and consider THIS as success — and that the only way our band can get an interview in our hometown paper after 20 years of actual “indie” milestones is to talk about the same format that destroys music and our forced relationship with it.

DM: You guys just started going on tour across North America, with dates in Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. When can we expect to see you perform in Montreal again?

MS: We are talking about a cross-Canada tour for next year, so hopefully then.

DM: What else do you have planned for the rest of the year, and for 2023 (if you’ve planned that far ahead)?

KK:  Lots of naps, lots of gardening, star gazing — anything and everything to keep me away from the internet.

DM: Anything else you want to add?

MS: Even in the purported “underground,” your music and art is only valid once it becomes mainstream and popular. Don’t listen to these folks. Make music for YOU. Create, don’t conflate. Fuck the bullshit. ■

For more on the King Khan & BBQ Show please visit their linktree.

For more Montreal music coverage, please visit the Music section.