Blackjack Billy Appreciate Having Each Other to Share Responsibilities
Blackjack Billy lead singers Rob Blackledge and Noll Billings both started out pursuing solo careers before forming their group. The quartet, which also includes Jeff Coplan and Brad Cummings, now makes all their decisions together, and Blackledge says that he wouldn't have it any other way.
“I guess, ultimately, the biggest difference is the spreading of responsibility," Blackledge told The Boot before Blackjack Billy's Country on the River 2015 performance. "I do not know how a solo act does it; I don’t. Having had a moderate level of success with our band and understanding the time that it takes ... If you’re a solo act, you have to make time for everything, all the time. If you have a bad day, you just have to suck it up and deal with it. If you’re sick, you still have to go out and sing. If your dog just died, you still have to do a meet and greet.
"There’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure, and I’m in awe of the solo acts that have succeeded, because it’s so much more work than anyone could ever possibly imagine," he continues. "Being in a band, you’re able to spread that responsibility around -- and also lift each other up. I mean, we’re a team; we’re a family. We all see each other more than our own families, and so it’s great to have that support staff, and we’re all great friends."
Blackledge and Billings share lead vocals on Blackjack Billy's songs, but if it seems as though it was arranged that way, think again: Blackledge says that it actually happened very organically.
"Noll has a very unique voice -- it’s kind of raspy; I don’t know how you’d describe it. It’s not mine; mine is much cleaner and higher. And so it just made sense that I would sing the harmony," he explains. "And it’s something that I’m good at and just comes easy for me, and so we started writing songs, and Noll would start singing the melody, and I’d just pop right into the harmony, and it just clicked.
"It was extremely natural; it was that easy," Blackledge adds. "It just started happening that way, and then, as we started writing more and more, we started catering our songs to fit two voices."
Blackledge also says that Blackjack Billy are always open to recording great songs, regardless of who wrote them.
“We don’t put any harnesses on ourselves at all," he explains. "One of my favorite songs in our set right now is “The Chase,” and it was written by Noll and Justin Wilson, and I think Jeff threw a few things in there, but I had nothing to do with it, and it’s one of my favorites. If there’s a good song that fits what we’re trying to do, we’re going to play it. We’re not picky like that; we don’t have any ego tied to who wrote what or how the song ended up in our hands. I think we have a pretty good sense of who we are now."
Blackjack Billy will spend much of the next few months on the road. A complete list of dates is posted on their website.