From Canada all the way to Austin, Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen have stuck by each other. The duo’s history dates back to kindergarten in their hometown of Toronto, and they’ve been playing music together since high school. First came the Shenanigans, a power trio anchored by a love of classic rock and playing loud, but the band fell apart. McKeown and Owen decided to ditch Canada and headed south.
When they got to Austin, the duo plopped down and decided to take another crack at music. This time, though, they ditched the bass too, opting for a raw guitar-and-drums sound and a name to match: Black Pistol Fire. Constant local gigging led to notice from producer Jim Diamond, who’s worked with like-minded acts the White Stripes and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. He recorded Black Pistol Fire’s self-titled debut in 2009, and in 2011 the band followed up with Big Beat 59. A tribute EP to Little Richard has tided over fans in the meantime.
Their reputation as one of the hardest working bands in Austin was sealed with an amazing performance live at the Four Seasons during SXSW. While Owen was brought to mind Animal from the Muppets, McKeown jumped onto a table in the front row to play a solo. And they put their own version of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” into the intro to “Hipster Shakes”–all in all, one of those perfect, one-of-a-kind SXSW experiences.