Interview: We meet half of Black Pistol Fire – Eric Owen

With starting the year off by releasing their best album to date (read our review here), and also redefining what a rock duo sound like. Backseat Mafia caught up with Eric Owen from Black Pistol Fire to find out about the band, the new album and which of the two is one hell of a painter.

First off. How are you guys doing during this current situation? How has the pandemic affected the band? Any messages for your fans? 

Overall, we’re okay considering the situation. We were to have quite the big touring year in 2020 and our album was going to come out as well. We were actually opening up arenas and large theatres in Canada when the whole world stopped. We’ve both kept busy creatively and have been riding this thing out at our homes. To the fans, if we just stay the course, we’ll all get back to enjoying each other’s company and singing songs together soon enough. It’s just going to take some time.   

For people who may not be familiar with the band. Can you introduce us to the band and tell us a little about how you formed and why you chose the style that you play? 

We are Eric Owen- Drums/Synth and Kevin McKeown- Guitar/Vocals. We’ve been friends since Kindgergarten in Toronto. We started playing together in various bands in High School and then eventually wound up carving things down to just the two of us. I don’t think we chose the style/styles that we play. I think the styles chose us!

From what I have read, you guys have known each other for pretty much all your lives. Have you always had a good relationship? How do you think your relationship has impacted your music?

Obviously with any relationship, especially one as close and connected as we are, there are ups and downs. We’re definitely like brothers.  With that close connection, we’re able to easily and almost seamlessly at times, lock in with what the other one is doing. There’s a connection there that can’t even be fully described. It’s quite special and we’re both very aware of how rare it is.

How do you find peoples reaction to you guys being a rock duo? What was the reason for keeping it just the two of you and not having a bigger band? Was it just a national progression?

I think if people hear songs from the last 3 albums, they might not even think we’re a duo. A lot of people are actually surprised when they hear that’s the dynamic. Obviously being a duo, some people like to automatically lump you into a certain pile and judge you based on that. There’s nothing you can do about that so we just focus on making  music and putting on a great show. Being a duo just kind of happened. We never planned on it, but it’s worked out well thus far.

When it comes to writing and recording, have you found it restrictive or does it give you more freedom with having just the two of you? 

I can’t speak to the writing, but with recording it’s definitely both. Obviously it’s restrictive because you can’t really have too many elements, but it’s also freeing because you can focus more on the parts of the track that are being used and make them as good as they can be. Plus we’ve figured out ways over the years to have a lot more than just drums and guitar in the songs and still have it be true to the band. 

How does a track develop between you two? Where do you get your inspirations from? 

Sometimes Kevin comes with a completely written track and we bash away at it till we get it to a place where it needs to be. Other times, he’s comes in with a riff or groove  or melody and we’ll build it out from there. It’s like putting a puzzle together.  Inspiration is all over the place! I think we both try to keep up with some current music to see what’s happening now, but we also like to go back and listen to everything from the past. Whether that be classic soul, early punk or disco, 90’s Hip Hop or whatever. I think it’s about having your ears open so that you can pick up little things from whatever you’re listening to. 

How do you feel about the consumption of music being so heavily on the side of streaming rather than physical? Do you feel you have had better exposure because of it? 

There’s two sides to it. First, it’s great to be able to access any song you want, any time you want! There’s a freedom of consumption that really is truly remarkable and is has ABSOLUTELY helped the band reach a wider Audience. We’ve never been on a major label so if we were still in time where music consumption was physical, we might not be where we are today. On the flip side, with streaming some of the romance has been lost. Music is a little more disposable in that format. If you hear a song once and it doesn’t strike you, you literally have millions of other songs to choose from and you might never revisit it VS. when  listening was limited to your physical collection, you would definitely give more time for songs to grow on you. But this is how it is now. 

Outside of the music, what do you guys like to do? What keeps you busy? 

Kevin has a young son so that definitely keeps him VERY busy. He’s also an amazing painter, I really hope he puts together a gallery with his work one day because it’s phenomenal. I do a lot of hiking and camping, things like that. I’ve also been doing some screenwriting and directing on the side. The pandemic has definitely given me more time to finish some of the scripts I’d been working on. 

Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of? Is there a particular band that got you into music? 

When I was a child I wanted to be in the Foo Fighters! The band that REALLY got me into music was Nirvana. Kurt had already passed before I was old enough to know about them, but they spoke to me then and still do to this very day! If I can go back in a time and just be in the studio with The Beatles, that would be an absolute dream come true. A few bands we’d LOVE to share the stage with today are Cage the Elephant, Foals, and Arctic Monkeys- we’ve been fans of them from the get-go and it’s been amazing to see their progression. 

Difficult to talk about future plans, but what does the future look like?

Well the new album definitely comes out this month. That is for sure! After that, I guess we can hope that gigs will come back later this year. It’s looking like that’s very possible so we’ll just keep sheltering in place until things hopefully get back to some type of normal. When gigs are back on in a safe and healthy way, I think they’ll be absolutely manic!

Lastly what music are you digging right now? Any bands or artists you think deserve a little more recognition?

There’s a band called BRONCHO that put out an absolutely fantastic album in 2019. Punkish with a bit of an 80’s vibe. Bass Drum of Death is also one of my favorites, they’re more in the garage world. Polica is really cool Syth band out of Minnesota, their last album was really cool. Great vibe!

Check out the homemade video for ‘Black Halo’, below:

Find out more about the band via their Facebook

Order the album here

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