Black Pistol Fire

1:25am, Headhunters Patio

By Austin Powell, Fri., March 16, 2012

Black Pistol Fire
by John Anderson

The show poster for the Degeneration Next Festival in the Czech Republic last year pegged Black Pistol Fire almost perfectly: "Wild, American rock & roll show from Texas, USA."

There's just one small catch. Guitarist/vocalist Kevin McKeown and drummer Eric Owens originally hail from Toronto, Canada. After drawing some major-label interest as the Shenanigans, the two stripped down and relocated locally in 2008.

"Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of my heroes growing up," reflects McKeown, who owns one of the late guitarist's signature Stratocasters. "Watching him on Austin City Limits was the be-all, end-all for me. We knew this city had the sort of lifestyle and scene we were looking for."

Immersed in Texas roadhouse blues and bayou R&B, BPF developed a sound that's truly All-American. The band's eponymous debut boasts the grimy, Rubber Factory feel of the Black Keys' earliest recordings – Detroit punk-blues with Southern choogle – thanks in no small part to producer Jim Diamond (the White Stripes, the Dirtbombs). The two are currently working on a follow-up, as well as a tribute EP to Little Richard, whom McKeown heralds as the "unsung godfather of rock & roll."

Onstage, the two certainly live up to their Degeneration Next billing. McKeown raves up like Jimmy Page-era Yardbirds, stretching each riff for a country mile. Owen resembles a Survivor outcast – sweaty and shirtless, with long, tangled black hair – bashing his drum kit as if it's some competition to earn another meal and night on the island.

"We've been friends since we were five years old and have been playing together pretty much ever since," relates Owens. "We have this unspoken connection. There's a little ESP involved, but we just want to try and challenge ourselves to come up with different things every time we play so that it's always exciting and interesting.

"You'll never see the same show twice."

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