An interview with Eric Owen and Kevin Mckeown of Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire are a talented two-piece piece band hailing from the southern US. They released Big beat 59 in August this year, a fast moving, thoroughbred rock n roll album. I did a review on the album recently after it came out and it has become my favourite realise of the year. Drummer Eric and guitarist/ singer Kevin took some time out of their tour in the North America to answer a few questions.

Q1. There’s a lot of bands you have been compared with, The Black keys and The Kings of Leon being the main two, but who did you gain the most inspiration from while making Big beat 59?

E – I’ve seen us been referred to as “Punk N Roll” before and I think that holds true on Big Beat ’59. The album as a whole has a lot of different sounds where “Beelzebub” is gospel, “Hot Mess” has an Americana vibe, and “Dead Love” definitely has a Zeppelin II+III feel. Overall though, the biggest influence has been old 50’s style rock and roll. We (especially Kev) are really into Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. I think it was a matter of taking that original sound and updating it with our energy and modernizing it.

K – I was listening to all kinds of different music while recording Big Beat. Some Gospel, old blues (Freddie King, Howlin wolf), 1950’s and 60’s rock n roll from Little Richard to Link Wray.

Q2. What was your main reason for becoming a two piece band?

E – Kev and I have been friends since we were in Kindergarten. That’s over 20 years of friendship. We’ve also been playing music with one another for about 12 years. We’d had other members in different bands, but we have such a strong bond personally and musically that it’s kind of hard to throw someone into that. When we play live, I think we’ve learned to read each other and change things up at the drop of a hat if we want. It makes things easier in one regard, while it also makes it a lot more difficult by limiting yourself.  At this point though I wouldn’t have it any other way.

K -Becoming a two piece band happened by accident. Eric and I played in a band back in Toronto as trio, with a bass player. But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes the chemistry is just not right. I wasn’t really happy playing in that band by the end of it, so I decided to move to Austin and really make a push with the music. Eric said that he also had plans of going to Austin, and by the time I got down there he had already booked shows for us. It was just the two of us, so we played them for laugh and it turned out people were really digging what we were doing. We had always jammed/rehearsed as a duo, so I guess it just became very natural thing to do it live.

Q3. Why do you that southern USA rock sound is so popular in the UK?

E – I think Southern Rock is just feel good music that sets that stage for people to let loose and have fun. Those sounds conjure up images of people getting down and having a party! And man do y’all know how to have a good time over there, so it’s a natural fit. Your festivals look MENTAL!

K -The Southern U.S was the birthplace of so much influential music (country, rythym and blues) and it developed into rock n roll which really shook things all over the globe. I think the U.K has always had a great taste for amazing music!

Q4. Did you think it important to bring out a second album quickly after the release of Black Pistol Fire or were all the ideas already in place for BB59?

E – I think we always want to keep going forward. If we’re not on the road touring, there’s no reason to just sit around. Kev is constantly writing and we’re always working on new songs. Even though Big Beat ’59 just came out, we went ahead and recorded 11 new tracks just last month. So we’re hoping to release another album early next year at some point. I think it’s important to keep momentum up. And also, some of the stuff we’re playing around with is just so good!

K – I am always constantly writing, so we were ready to go into the studio. If we have songs, we record them. Our tour schedule has not been too crazy, so we have been fortunate enough to have the time to record. We are actually just finishing up our third LP at the moment which will hopefully be released in early February 2013.

Q5. There are a lot of different sounds throughout the album but yet I think the sound stays undeniably your sound throughout. What do you think it is about the music that makes it sound so you?

E – It all comes down to the energy and passion that we play with. There’s 2 guys playing on the album and whether its drums, tambourine, electric or acoustic guitar, or mandolin, it’s coming from us. And Kev has an unmistakable voice that carries throughout so when you hear him, you automatically associate it with BPF. While we’re influenced by so many different kinds of music, we’re the ones that are playing around with all these sounds.

K – We just play with the same intensity that we also play with when it’s the two of us. I think maybe that is what makes our sound, whether it’s, stomping our feet, clapping our hands or pickin’ a mandolin!

Q6. Are there any plans in the near future of you coming to the UK for a few gigs?

E – Not a day goes by where a fan from the UK doesn’t hit us up online and ask when we’re heading over there. We’ve wanted to for so long but we just haven’t found the right promoter yet. It’s a very costly trip to make when you think about it. We’re actually working on getting some business set up in the UK right now. I’d say that one of our primary goals for early 2013 is to get over to that side of the pond. It’ll happen, it has to!

K – Yes! Hopefully, we will try and make it over there in the very near future. There are a few things in the works right now, but I won’t say too much.

Q7. Finally, what are your hopes and aims for the future after your quick rise in popularity since your first release?

E – I think we want to keep making and playing the music that we love and get it out there to as many people as we can. And play for some bigger crowds. I’d say that 2 huge goals in the future would be to play Glastonbury in the UK and Bonnaroo in the US.

K – We really want to tour the U.K and play as many festivals as we can. The main drive is to just try to keep making good music!!

Take a look at their website here: 

Black Pistol Fire – Big Beat ’59. RD 14/8/2012

Big Beat ’59 is the toe tapping new album by Black Pistol Fire. Pushing together the kind of Amazing riffs you hear from the Black Keys with the fun dirty electric guitar sound of Sea Sick Steve, everyone who manages not to break out into some air guitar will not help but head nod and toe tap along.

This is the Canadian Rock duo’s second album in as many years. With the sound they create it is not surprising the duo, Kevin Mckneown and Eric Owen, settled in Austin, Texas in 2009. They are the kind of band who could smash into the mainstream at any time so be prepared.

This is an album for real music lovers, every song has a riff that would not sound out place coming from the guitars of some of the greatest guitarists of the past 40 years. The sound they create is the kind of rustic unmistakably American sound that recent great bands have come across the pond with.Image

Its one of those albums that has so many reasons for you to listen to it from start to finish, one being its the kind of album were any of the songs could be a single, every song lives up to the high standard the song before sets. Another reason is that it has a bit of everything. There are sounds created that you can relate to bands from Wolf Mother to The Kings of Leon and amazingly it all fits. Kevin McKeowns singing style meshes perfectly with his guitar riffs and Eric Owens aggressive drumming.

Black Pistol Fire draw obvious similarities with the Black Keys, not only because of the fact they are a duo but also their similar music style however that cannot be a bad thing, just look at how much worldwide success the black keys have had. To do what the Black keys do takes talent and by jove do these lads have talent.