Interview with Noll Billings from Blackjack Billy


Blackjack Billy
Blackjack Billy

Interview by Scott Preston

Jamband News: How did the band first get together?

Noll Billings: Jeff and Rob knew each other from Jeff producing the first love and theft album, and Rob writing L&T’s first single “Runnaway”. Jeff was always a big fan of Rob as an artist and first introduced me and Rob to write. First time we got in a room together we just had a BLAST writing and playing. It just felt easy, and when we met Brad shortly after we knew we had a Band. We hit the road immediately and haven’t really been back since.

Jamband News: Can you explain the success of your debut single “The Booze Cruise”?

Noll Billings: Honestly… No! Haha. We was about to go play a hand full of shows at Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City over spring break and we knew we wanted to write an anthem for the party. First time we played it down there and saw the crowd, we knew we had a song that turned em on, but we really didn’t have any goals or expectations other than putting on the best shows possible and writing good songs. It’s been crazy watching that song take off.

Jamband News: With so many songwriters in the band, how does the creative process work itself out?

Noll Billings: It’s really random and id say there’s no real game plan. Sometimes we could be out at a bar and someone say the right line, and someone else chimes in with a concept or melody. We may drop everything and go write it immediately or just tweak on it from time to time.  Rob is one of the best melody guys I’ve ever met and Coplan always kills me with his guitar riffs. So It’s always really just been fun and easy with our crew, and I think that’s how it outa be.

Jamband News: What can you tell me about your full length debut album?

Noll Billings: we have been taking our time knowing that this will be our First full album. We just want it to be perfect, and we have been blessed to be out on the road the last two years watching fans react to our songs. So hopefully we have a good indicator of what people love and what they don’t.  The album will definitely have our rock edge with country roots, but I think we are gonna surprise some people with a couple songs they wouldn’t expect from BJB.
Jeff is just amazing in the studio and a true workaholic. He lives and breaths music and I know we are gonna have a peace of work that we are extremely proud of.

Jamband News: What is one of the strangest things you have seen on the road?

Noll Billings: Oh Lord, we’ve seen some things… Most things we prolly shouldn’t write about!! We just played “The Boogie” in Indiana, if u ever wanna get a taste of the Crazy Things you may come across touring, go to THE BOOGIE! Festivals are always bonkers, kinda like a local moonshine, when u travel as much as us, u get a feel for the area you are in but it’d be impossible to say the one you love most.

Jamband News: How was your experience touring in Australia? Was your music received any differently than in the U.S.?

Noll Billings: It was amazing… I wouldn’t say the music was received differently, because our fans here in the states have been absolutely amazing and they are the reason for our success… I’d say In the states we are known more as a blue collar hard working band, because we’ve had success touring, but not broken through on top 40 radio yet. However, in other places we have been blessed to be considered a break through act. In Austalia, We had a number one song and album/(EP) over there after our first trip. And we can’t wait to get back, those folks over there love their country music.  It’s been the same with Canada. An amazing and unexpected blessing.  I think the states are a bit different just because there are SO many markets and so many places an act needs to go and win over fans, especially when you do it like us and your musical outlet to fans is based on live performances. But again, our fans in the states have been so incredible and we are confident in what we are doing at home.

Jamband News: Tell me the filming of the “Booze Cruise” video, it looked like a lot of fun.

Noll Billings: it was! We met Earl Bud Lee (star of the video) at one of our early shows. Earl Bud is a hall of fame songwriter with songs like Blake Shelton’s “Who are you when I’m not Looking” to Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places”.
When Rob came up for the idea to shoot that video we knew Bud would be the PERFECT fit for the concept! He is naturally the most fun loving, intense, epic person you could ever meet and we literally never had to get him to act… We really just said “go have fun” and we shot some film. He’s the best and family to the BJB crew.

Jamband News: What other projects or artists are you working with?

Noll Billings: B4 we hit the road we all had lots of projects and other things going on. But when you commit to writing, recording, film and 200+ Shows a year all over the globe, it really demands every ounce of your soul.
We all still collaborate with lots of great artists. Coplan just finished a GREAT album on our buddy Tim Hicks and Rob and I sang and wrote on Kevin Fowlers #1 song “How Country Are Ya”. And brother Brad had a blast on our Australia tour jamming and playing drums with the Love and Theft Crew.

Jamband News: How do you feel how the internet has changed the music business?

Noll Billings: I really don’t know what the business was like b4 internet and downloading. By the time I started chasing this buzz, it was already a way of the world.  For a band like us, who makes a living on live shows, we don’t really ever think or talk about it.  We would all rather make $10 a cd like the old days, instead if a portion of 99cents but I guess at the end of the day, if a million people download our song then I’d say we have a million fans either way you cut it.
As long as people want to go see live music, we will focus on that 1st. In this business there’s so many things you can drive yourself crazy about, and there’s really only a couple things you can control. We try our best to focus on what we can control, and we know every night we get that stage for a little while… And it’s all ours til we walk off!

Jamband News: it looks like the band has a pretty relentless touring schedule, what does the band do to pass the time in between shows?

Noll Billings: Sleep, Drive, Airports, Load In, Sound Check, Laundry, haha there’s not much downtime for chillin. But when we do have time we mostly wanna go see shows or write or jam. If time goes smooth Robs been known to disappear on a motorcycle for days. Brads so easy going that he can really get into anything but 99% of the time it involves music. Jeff is always thinking music or talking music or lyrics or riffs. I can’t picture him without a tune involved, He’s really nutts about it.  If I have time I really dig Golf, or a good day fishing… Although I hardly remember the last time I done either!! But hey, we signed up for this and it’s a lot better to complain about how busy you are than about how empty your schedule is… All in all, after about a day off we are all itching to get back on stage.

Blackjack Billy
Blackjack Billy

07.25.14 | Yerington, NV @ A Night in the Country Music Festival
07.26.14 | Yerington, NV @ A Night in the Country Music Festival
07.30.14 | Regina, SK, Canada @ Moslon Canada Grandstands
07.31.14 | Camrose, AB, Canada @ Big Valley Jamboree
08.01.14 | Sweet Home, OR @ Oregon Jamboree
08.02.14 | Duncan, BC, Canada @ Sunfest
08.03.14 | Sweet Home, OR @ Oregon Jamboree
08.05.14 | Sturgis, SD @ The Pavillion | During Sturgis!
08.06.14 | Detroit Lakes, MN @ WE Fest
08.07.14 | Detroit Lakes, MN @ WE Fest
08.13.14 | Point Pleasant Beach, NJ @ Jenkinson’s
08.14.14 | Patchogue, NY @ The Emporium
08.15.14 | Smethport, PA @ McKean County Fair
08.16.14 | Havelock, ON, Canada @ Havelock Jamboree
08.22.14 | Denver, CO @ The Grizzly Rose
08.23.14 | Ashland, KS @ Southwest Country Fest
08.31.14 | Panama City Beach, FL @ Gulf Coast Jam
09.12.14 | West Salem, WI @ Features Fest
09.13.14 | Farmington, MN @ Ramble Jam
09.25.14 | Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
09.27.14 | CMC Rocks North QLD, Townsville QLD
09.28.14 | Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, QLD
10.01.14 | Palais Theatre, Melbourne VIC
10.03.14 | Deni Ute Muster, Deniliquin NSW
10.04.14 | Deni Ute Muster, Deniliquin NSW

Bands on the Run featuring BlackJack Billy, Doc Walker, The Road Hammers
11.20.14 | Exhibition Hall -Fredericton, NB
11.21.14 | Casino Nova Scotia – Halifax, NS
11.22.14 | The Centre at the Casino New Brunswick – Moncton, NB
12.03.14 | Westman Communications Group Place – Brandon, MB
12.13.14 | Kal Tire Place – Vernon, BC