Lords of Acid

An interview with Praga Khan, electronic music pioneer and founder of Lords of Acid
by Mike Huberty
February 2019

Praga Kahn of The Lords of Acid

Praga Kahn of The Lords of Acid

The first time I heard Lords of Acid in the early 90s, I couldn’t believe what they were getting away with. There was this really cool sounding electronic dance song where a woman was chanting “I sit on your face” and even my horny teenage brain was like, “Damn, that’s forward.” But you learn not to expect subtlety from a band whose tongue-in-cheek sexually charged dance anthems are titled “Pussy” and “I Must Increase My Bust” and that named their “Best of” record, Greatest Tits.

First of all, to explain what “acid techno” is, it’s named after a certain kind of sound made from a Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer, an electronic “squelch” that occurs when the synth automatically modulates the low-pitched notes to create a moving fluid bass line. It was originally released in 1981 as an electronic way to simulate real electric bass guitars, but was considered a flop until techno musicians started buying them second hand and using the distinct sounds it could create.

Anticipating their upcoming show in Milwaukee at the Miramar Theatre on Wednesday March 6th, I Skyped with Lords of Acid founder and electronic music pioneer Praga Khan from his home in Belgium. Praga is not only the man behind Lords of Acid, but also the guy who gave us the “Mortal Kombat” techno song! He’s a extremely prolific musicians and their latest album, Pretty In Kink was released in 2018 as a Kickstarter where Lords of Acid fans actually came up with the song and album titles.

“The fans came up with the song title and I was thinking what musically would go with the song, whether it was a sex cam girl or whatever, I tried to get into the moods musically inspired.”, Praga says. “When we working int he studio, we’d be working on instrumentals and I’d just ask their honest opinion. I know a lot of fans personally that have honest opinions so if a fan says it sounds like shit, then I really pay attention. But we would ask fans like ‘Do you want more or less guitars?’ or ‘Do you want more uptempo songs or slow sexy ones?’ The new album is really a collaboration between the band and the fans and that’s what I think is amazing about it.”

When I ask him how many people come up to him and tell him that they conceived their first child or lost their virginity to his music, he laughs and says, “There are a lot of people who come out to me and say ‘I thank you because my music helped me through a rough time. I was the only gay in the village and your music gave me the power to come out of the closet’ and it’s nice that people can come up to me and say that.”

“And what’s so wrong with talking about sex?” he continues. “Most of the people I know, they have sex. Why be so mysterious about it? If there isn’t sex, then there aren’t so many people running around this world. So for us we didn’t think about it like that. But we always had crazy stories in American dealing with the local sheriffs.”

He remembers a story from the early 90s, “We had to do a concert in San Diego and the sheriff, he came to the tour bus and there were like 64 things that we couldn’t do onstage and he said you have to sign it before you can go onstage. It was things like ‘Do not use the mic in a suggestive way’. But that’s a tricky thing, you sing in the mic with your mouth, it’s always suggestive!”

He continues, “When we did the concert, there were two policeman standing on the stage with us, one on the left and one on the right. It was like they were there so we didn’t start to make sex on stage or something like that. But they had the time of their lives, we were having so much fun. When ‘Pussy’ came on and the girls were jumping onstage, they were having a great time.”

When I originally heard Lords of Acid and the sound and those dirty lyrics, I thought they’d be some ultraserious Eyes Wide Shut-style perverts, but Praga comes across as just a fun regular guy who loves making music. He explains, “With Lords of Acid, it’s always tongue-in-cheek humor. We’re talking about sex but in a funny way. There was a guy once who called us the ‘Benny Hill of Music’. By doing it in a funny way, that gave us the opportunity to do it because when we became successful a lot of people tried to copy us, but they took it too far and it didn’t work because they forgot the humor.”

When they hit the Miramar Theatre on March 6th, fans can expect a wild show (also appearing are The Genitorturers and their live show is as fun as their name!) and Praga remembers the Wisconsin audience well and appreciates us. “We have a lot of diehard fans in Milwaukee, the last time we played at the Rave was great.” he says. “Most of the time people want to just hear the songs they know, but in Milwaukee the people are more open minded and like hearing new songs and that’s what I like. They don’t just start cheering for ‘Pussy’ at the start of the show”, he laughs.

And he continues enthusiastically about what has made them so popular even into their fourth decade of making music. “When Lords of Acid is in town, the freaks come out. Everyone can come in their most sexy outfit and dress up however they want. It’s a Halloween show every night, with costumes and a lot of makeup. It’s the total atmosphere of the band and the fans who know what it’s all about.”

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Lords of Acid
CD: Pretty In Kink Record Label: Metropolis Records
Purchase Pretty In Kink on Amazon