Black Pistol Fire: Best friends, bandmates play Boulder

Black Pistol Fire plays the Fox on Jan. 27. (Courtesy photo)
Black Pistol Fire plays the Fox on Jan. 27. (Courtesy photo)
By Sean Kelly

Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen are living every kid’s dream: playing in a band with a lifelong best friend.

Their two-man rock band, Black Pistol Fire, started in 2009, but the story really begins all the way back in kindergarten.

“We started as kids jamming in the basement, playing covers,” McKeown said. “I think, at that age anyone who plays music kind of gravitates toward each other.”

The close-knit relationship of the Canadian-born duo is one of the band’s biggest strengths, as the chemistry still shines bright after years of collaboration.

“I know Kevin more than I know probably anyone,” Owen said. “I can just tell what he’s going to do and that helps especially being in a two-person band, where there’s not a lot of room for error.”

Following the break-up of their high school band The Shenanigans, the pair moved from their hometown of Toronto to Austin, Texas — where Black Pistol Fire was born. The move to one of America’s biggest music hotbeds has helped push the band to new heights, the pair said.

You can join the party with Black Pistol Fire for its first show in Boulder at The Fox Theater Tuesday, Jan. 27. Boulder’s own Branded Bandits will be opening the show.

Although it may be easy to dismiss Black Pistol Fire as just another rock ‘n’ roll band with a scathing southern garage sound, McKeown said the band is much more diverse.

“Where we are coming from… is a whole melting pot of different stuff,” McKeown said. “Whether it’s country, bluegrass, rhythm, blues, or soul, we’re trying to take different bits and pieces of all this stuff we love. Underneath the surface, there are a lot of different things we are drawing from — not just rock and blues.”

Despite the passing years, McKeown and Owen still bring great energy to live shows — which has been known to evokes a scene of controlled chaos. While McKeown relentlessly rocks all over (and sometimes off) the stage, Owen mercilessly beats his drum set. The band has been lauded for the ability to fire up the audience throughout Austin, and McKeown said he and Owen feed off the audience’s enthusiasm.

“I think if you’re on stage having a good time and letting loose and kind of going wild, the crowd is going to give it right back,” Owen said.

McKeown said his wild energy on stage is quite a stark contrast to his personality off stage.

“It’s kind of like you’re putting on a different hat, a Dr. Jekel/Mr. Hyde thing,” McKeown said, calling himself a “reserved kind of dude” when he’s not performing. But, he said he uses his time on stage to let off some steam.

“If you had some things you’ve been bottling up for a week then you just let it all out on stage,” he said. ” It’s a release, a therapeutic release.”

No matter how many years have passed or places they’ve been, one thing has remained constant: Owen and McKeown’s friendship.

“At the end of the day, you probably want to be playing in a band or being around someone constantly that you’re actually friends with — rather somebody you despise,” Owen said. “We obviously are very grateful and fortunate [to be playing together].”

Black Pistol Fire has come a long way from jamming in a basement in Toronto to touring around America. They have released three albums since 2009, their latest is Hush or Howl.

If you go

What: Black Pistol Fire

When: Tuesday, Jan. 27, doors at 8 p.m.

Where: The Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder

Cost: $10-$12

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