Austin rock group Black Pistol Fire is back with their brand new album Look Alive and listening to it, we can only say this – there is no denying the amount of energy, textures, invigorating cadences and inflections of sounds that combust within this sizzling new record.
Enraptured and pulled in like a moth to a flame, we asked the duo to tell us more about the fire that sizzles in Black Pistol Fire’s music.
The group comprising members Kevin McKeown (guitarist/lead vocalist/songwriter) and Eric Owen (drums/bass synth) say that it’s something that they’ve been cooking for years. And yes, we agree – it is hot!
Each song feels like a different soundscape and like many out there, we are certainly digging it!
From the beautiful colours and undulating textures of “Beyond The Blue” that seem to explode like the stars in Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to the titled track “Look Alive” that sizzles beneath its flame of sonically pleasurable sounds, or even to the oxytocin-laden dance floor vibes of “Never Enough”, we are pulled deep into every song…
Never Enough? Perhaps so!
AL365: Hi Black Pistol Fire, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. Massive congrats on the new single album ‘Look Alive’. How does it feel to know that (“something you’ve been cooking for years”) is finally out in the world?
Black Pistol Fire: Thank you very much! Yeah, it feels great! It’s great that the build up is no longer in the back of your mind…it’s out there! Definitely a relief and also exciting because it seems like people are really digging it!
AL365: I love the sizzling hot “Look Alive”, the “dance inflection-like” vibes of “Never Enough”, the illustrious bluesy feels of “Temper, Temper”, the “head-bang in an underground music venue” sound ripples of “Level” and the pop rock enveloping and exploding night sky layers of “Beyond the Blue”. If you could pick a song to pull the attention of a non-fan to this new album, what would it be and why?
Black Pistol Fire: Hmm…that’s really tough because like you just mentioned they’re all so different. For me personally, I would suggest either “Never Enough” or “Beyond the Blue”. “Never Enough” is just so groovy, I think you just can’t help but tap your toe or bob your head to it and I think it fits in with a vibe that no one’s really done since the late 70’s early 80’s. “Beyond the Blue” because Kevin’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and when the song explodes at the end, I get goosebumps. It’s epic!
AL365: We heard that the titled track “Look Alive” was about a car named Psycho 69 by the subject and is about someone who is fantasising about leaving behind everything they’ve come to know for the pursuit of the dark unknown. What inspired this fascinating “analogy” or story?
Black Pistol Fire: I don’t have the actual answer to this, but Kev has always dug classic cars and he’s written some really cool songs through the perspective of unique characters. This one’s a beaut!
AL365: You mentioned that this album was the most difficult to make but the one that you’re most proud of. What were some of the pivotal moments (difficult or otherwise monumental) that you remember about the conceptualisation of this new album?
Black Pistol Fire: We debated for months whether to spend a lot more money than we had ever on going to Nashville to work with Vance Powell. There was lots of back and forth and numerous phone calls, meetings, and conversations. Ultimately, we did it and the results were great! We definitely spent more time on tracks, sometimes multiple days on one song where early on, we would record a whole album in a day or two. And due to that, we spent a lot more money than we ever had, but it definitely broke away some previous limitations.
AL365: How many songs did you write and were there any songs that didn’t make it, but may be released in the future?
Black Pistol Fire: Haha, I don’t have a number but I’m sure Kevin wrote hundreds! He’s quite prolific in his writing. There were a few songs that were recorded that didn’t make the album and a few that were released ahead of time that didn’t make the cut either. There’s one that I think is pretty cool that might get released at some point, but we’ll see what happens with it.
AL365: What artists or bands were your biggest inspirations when you were younger right up to now? Do you see their influences moulding the way you’ve grown musically throughout these six albums?
Black Pistol Fire: When I was younger, Nirvana was my everything! I was too young to know them before Kurt passed but I became obsessed! I traded bootleg cassettes on the internet when I was 12 concerts, Japanese imports. I got more into classic rock in high school which is where my love for The Beatles started. I listen to The Beatles most days still and Nirvana at least once or twice a week. I liked a lot of punk rock which ultimately led to my love of garage rock which is what really influenced our earliest records. The early Kings of Leon albums, The Strokes, and White Stripes were definitely on there. Another band to influence us at the time was The Arctic Monkeys, who obviously had their own evolution and still influence us to this day. And in recent years influences from certain songs seemingly come out of nowhere and could be anyone from The Weeknd to Rihanna or Cage The Elephant to Alabama Shakes.
AL365: What has the music journey been like these 10 odd years?
Black Pistol Fire: It’s been interesting. We’ve never really had a huge breakout moment but have just had steady growth this last decade, both artistically and professionally. It’s been exciting and I wish I could tell the 12 year old version of myself that this is what I get to do for a living!
AL365: I am loving all the (homemade) videos on your Instagram. “Level” literally gave me chills… It’s been awhile since we have had live shows now and I heard that yours really go all out full throttle. What do you miss most about it?
Black Pistol Fire: Live music is one of the most important aspects of my life. A lot of the best moments of my life have been concerts, be they Black Pistol Fire shows or seeing My Morning Jacket, Cage The Elephant, or Black Angels for the 10th time. I really miss the communal aspect of being in a crowd and feeling the same energy as the person standing next to you. From a performance perspective, I miss that feeling when you’re backstage, the lights go out and you hear the crowd cheer. It’s a rush of unbelievable nerves mixed with uncontrollable excitement. And seeing a crowd react and go wild to what you do is an adrenaline boost that you can’t manufacture.
AL365: Apart from the release of this stunning new album, what plans are in the pipeline for 2021?
Black Pistol Fire: We’re shooting a crowd-free concert film in the next month or so that will come out later this spring. After that, hoping to get back to playing shows everywhere and anywhere whenever we can safely do so. There are some festivals on the books and fingers crossed that all goes well.
AL365: Once the dust settles and touring resumes, any plans to visit Singapore, Thailand and the rest of Asia? I’d reckon we’d love to have you!
Black Pistol Fire: I hope so! Two places I’m itching to see. I would go there tomorrow if I could!
AL365: Is there anything you like to say to your fans out there?
Black Pistol Fire: Thanks for listening and stay safe out there, we’re all in this thing together and we can get through it together!
AL365: Thanks again Black Pistol Fire! Hope to see you on stage in this part of the region soon!
Listen to Black Pistol Fire’s latest album below.