Roots Three/ole hit songwriter/producer Jeff Coplan has said he has “poured his heart and soul” into his work with the group Blackjack Billy, who have one of the hottest songs of the summer on their hands with their debut single “Booze Cruise.” It is the fastest selling debut country single of 2013 with over 100,000 sold.
Coplan is usually behind the scenes working on artist development projects as producer and co-writer as he was with the duo Love and Theft, who topped the charts late last year with the single “Angel Eyes, and hot new-comer Tim Hicks, who already has two Canadian #1 country singles. With Blackjack Billy, he is doing all that but this time he has joined the band.
“Blackjack Billy was something that started as another artist development deal, just like with Love and Theft,” explains Coplan. “I fell in love with the project and the connection between me and the two guys that I started with, Rob Blackledge and Noll Billings, was so strong that we started playing shows together just around Nashville. Remember, I started off as an artist and hadn’t been one in years. I was just writing and producing. To get up there again and play, finding guys that I wanted to play with and write with and to form something creatively true to me that I loved so much, I was like: ‘I’ve gotta do this again.’”
The project started with Coplan, Blackledge and Billing just writing and getting material together. “When we started to perform, we wanted to make it a band because there was such a band vibe. We were very fortunate to find Patrick [Cornell] and Brad [Cummings]. They were just the perfect musicians for what we were doing and now the five of us have been touring for a little over a year.
“I love making music any way that I can. It’s just another outlet but you can’t be an artist unless you really connect personally to what you’re doing. Being a writer for other people, you can sort of put yourself in different roles and try to detach yourself from the stuff and just write. The other people are the ones who have to go out and perform it. They’ve got to have the ownership to it really, but if you find something where there’s a real connection to the point you want to be the voice of it, that’s the magic. I hadn’t felt that in so long and I had to follow it.”
Of course, this isn’t the only project Coplan is engaged with at the moment. He is currently also represented atop the Canadian country singles sales chart with another of his co-writes, “Hell Raisin’ Good Time,” by CCMA Rising Star Award nominees, Tim Hicks. “Yeah, I’m a busy boy. We’re out on the road three or four days a week but on the bus I bring a little portable studio with me so I’m constantly working on tracks or editing projects. There’s a lot of recording that I can actually do on the bus now with the technology available so.”
Besides putting the finishing touches on the Blackjack Billy album, Coplan is also completing Tim Hicks’ first album Throw Down, the follow up to his debut EP that produced the hit singles, “Get By” and “Hell Raisin’ Good Time.” The Tim Hicks opus is set for release on August 27. He’s also doing some writing with a new kid in town, 20-year-old Drew Baldridge. “Super talented guy… I’m really enjoying writing with him and I’m collecting a bunch of songs that we’ve done together. I’ll just cut some sides; nothing official.”