Black Pistol Fire are the Austin, Texas based duo of vocalist/guitarist Kevin McKeown and drummer/bass synth player Eric Owen. Originally from Toronto, they have spent almost a decade building a dedicated fanbase and refining their two-man approach, outfitting their explosive, impassioned rock ’n’ roll with a soundscape that has become more expansive and cinematic over time.
BPF released five albums between 2012 and 2017 that have included songs streamed millions of times on digital platforms, with ‘Suffocation Blues’ from their self-titled 2015 set having had 23 million plays on Spotify alone. They are also revered for their incendiary live shows that blend garage punk and blues rock and have seen them wow the crowds at festivals such as Lollapalooza, SXSW and Bonnaroo. They have toured the UK twice, with a 2018 support slot to The Fratellis in Newcastle being hailed by National Rock Review as “pure unadulterated rock and roll and arguably one of the most exciting acts we have come across this year.”
BPF have spent the last year or so releasing a handful of diverse singles that are included on a brand new album entitled ‘Look Alive’ that will be released in early 2021. Helmed by the duo with co-producer/engineer Jacob Sciba (Gary Clark Jr, Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes) and mixer Vance Powell (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Chris Stapleton), it reflects listening habits and influences that range from Chuck Berry to Nirvana, and Arctic Monkeys to G-Funk. Already available songs include the bluesy, slow-burning powerhouse ‘Hope In Hell’ (with its simple yet highly effective chorus ‘whoo-oohs’), the coiled, psychedelia-laced ‘Level’, the R&B-inflected ‘Temper Temper’ and the doomy, stomping ‘Black Halo’. A stripped-back ‘Homemade’ live video for the last of these has just been issued. As for what ties them together, McKeown states that “lyrically and thematically, a lot of it seems pretty dark, but it’s like you’re pushing through that darkness.”
Darkness, for obvious reasons, is smack in the centre of many people’s experience of life in 2020. “It’s crazy,” he continues. “A lot of these songs, people are saying they really ring true to what’s going on in our world, even though they were obviously written before the pandemic. But in terms of timing, there’s something about it that seems to be hitting the nail on the head right now.
Conditions permitting, BPF are aiming to bring their new music direct to fans in 2021. “I love being in the studio, and I love making music, but playing live, there’s nothing like it,” says Owen, while McKeown adds that “every time we hit the stage, we remember why we started doing this.” Note that they have been doing this for a long time, bearing in mind that the duo first met in nursery school in Toronto and have been making music together, with an almost telepathic connection, practically ever since. “Our live show is where we cut our teeth and where we honed our craft. It’s a rollercoaster ride, and the stage is where we come alive,” he concludes.