Black Pistol Fire is a band that came together by chance, but the Canadian rock duo’s performance opening for ZZ Ward at Irving Plaza last Thursday was anything but accidental.
The two piece band has seen its fair share of success, playing its signature brand of hard rock to festival crowds and opening for the likes of Gary Clark Jr. In an interview, drummer Eric Owen and guitarist and lead vocalist Kevin McKeown discussed how they met and the song that kickstarted their musical career.
“It was for a class project and we had to partner with someone from another class,” drummer Eric Owen said. “Kevin and I partnered up and we wanted to play a song together. We played a cover of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Sweet Dreams.’ We thought it was pretty cool and we wanted to do it again.”
From that moment forward, the band started picking up more influences from the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana, among other artists. They started jamming out, playing covers and eventually started writing their own material.
Then the band hit a brick wall. They were having trouble getting signed to a major record label. So, they picked up and moved down to Austin, Texas, where the band picked up its southern influences.
“We separately visited Austin, and a lot of the cool bands that we like came from there,” Owen said. “There’s Stevie Ray Vaughn with the blues influence and Spoon with a more modern rock twist. It just seemed like a happening spot and it just grabbed us. There is competition down there though — a healthy competition. There’s so many good musicians there that you have to elevate your game.”
Even surrounded by other artists, the duo has always done things its own way — with a Southern twist. McKeown’s southern drawl shapes their unmistakable rockabilly sound.
“The first two Kings of Leon albums — 2003’s ‘Youth and Young Manhood’ and 2004’s ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ — were really influential on us,” Owen admitted. “Those first two albums spoke to us more than any other album of theirs did.”
Now the band has recently scored the number two rock song in all of Canada with “Lost Cause” off their latest album “Deadbeat Graffiti.” After years of struggling in Canada, they are feeling the love from their hometown.
“It’s nice to finally get the support from Toronto,” Owen said. When we tell our parents and grandparents we have the number two rock song in the country, they cheer us on.”
The band has progressively come into its own since the self-titled debut album was released in 2011.
“McKeown’s songwriting has gotten so much better,” Owen said. “There’s a big element on groove as well on ‘Graffiti’. There are different sounds and textures and more elements that are coming into play now as well. One thing is for sure, though, our heart and soul is still there.”
Email Robert Frezza at [email protected].