It takes a considerable amount of chutzpah to adopt the same name for your band as one of Led Zeppelin’s most prolific songs. But Chicago-based band Blackdog did it anyway.
“We were fully aware of the song ‘Black Dog;’ we love the song ‘Black Dog,'” says Sam Reicher, guitarist and lead singer of the band. “We were throwing out names and that kind of was an idea, and in the same vein of the Rolling Stones using a Muddy Waters tune as their band name of Rolling Stone, it was kind of the same thing. … It’s definitely not a direct influence.”
While Reicher, who formed the band here at the University of Wisconsin in 2005, denies the band’s name was immediately inspired by the popular Zeppelin song, the comparison between the two bands’ musical styles is one that can easily be made. Songs “Hey Mamma” and “Travel Song” from the band’s self-titled LP sport similar bluesy guitar riffs and heavy percussion — the only thing missing is Plant’s signature sexualized howl which contrasts sharply with Reicher’s husky bass.
Naturally, the obvious similarities to bands like Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix may serve to the detriment of the band, causing listeners to compare rather than judge the band on its own merits.
“That’s not a concern,” Reicher says. “We’re so, so incredibly passionate about the music we love and so distraught about the lack thereof that exists today. … We take it very seriously, and we feel very responsible for giving a rebirth to true music, things that people can feel at the deepest level.”
For the enemy of truly impactful, quality music today, look no further than the pop princess herself, Britney Spears, says Reicher.
“We’ve kind of fallen into another dark age with pop music. It’s really, really ugly out there in terms of what the pop charts are putting into the mass peoples’ ears. It’s really bad stuff. Rap has taken a terrible turn.”
With their attempted “renaissance” of classic rock, though, Blackdog leaves one major component behind — hard drugs. “Not to say that we don’t dabble,” notes Reicher, but all-night, hotel-trashing parties and heroin overdoses aren’t on Blackdog’s to-do list.
Reicher doesn’t completely discredit the drug revolution, instead seeing it as a double-edged sword.
“What LSD did for the Beatles and what it did for Hendrix and stuff like that, you can’t just pass that off. It did a lot of incredible things. … Drugs as a downfall? Eh, it’s tough to say. It was responsible for a lot of the good stuff. It was responsible for a lot of the bad stuff.”
Instead of drugs, Blackdog’s secret weapon is its live show, which has been heralded by the Chicago Sun Times’ pop music writer Jim Derogatis and online commentators as “unforgettable.” And this is something Blackdog prides itself on.
“In terms of what we bring to the stage, we are 100 percent confident. If people come to the show, they’re going to feel what they felt with Led Zeppelin. …They’re going to dance their butts off.”
And Madison residents have the chance to do just that, as Blackdog makes its return to the capitol city this Friday to play a three-hour set at the High Noon Saloon beginning at 10 p.m. with opener the Soapbox Project. Reicher promises this show is one that must not be missed.
“We’re gonna hit their hearts, we’re gonna hit their legs — if they’re moving. We’re gonna hit their spirits. They’re going to feel something they’ve never felt before.”
For more information about Blackdog, visit yourblackdog.com