Down home, hard-working, fun lovin, blue-collar folks. When you are country artist’s and write about life these are parts of the solid foundation of what country music is. Country duo Montgomery Gentry have never wavered from their roots and their insights into the life of such folks. This is made evident in their first new album in nearly four years, “Folks Like Us,” due to be released in stores on June 9th.
Montgomery Gentry, made up of artist’s Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, have a chemistry that has worked for over 15 years. From “Hillbilly Shoes” to “Headlights,” Montgomery Gentry have become one of the most identifiable duos in the history of country music continuing to draw sold out crowds into their concerts and release albums that stay true to the Kentucky country music movement they helped define. “We’re going to continue to do the same music that we always have, and if that puts us in that leadership role, then so be it. I definitely want to be the one on the front end and not trying to copy something else that’s already been done.”
During the excitement of the new album and their anticipated appearance this month on the Riverfront Stage during the Country Music Association Festival in Nashville, the duo took some time to visit with us, discussing their career, the new album and more.
CMM: Welcome to Country Music Matters and thanks for including us and our fans into your day. From 1999 “Hillbilly Shoes,” to the present “Headlights,” and “Folks Like Us,” you have carved out a storied journey with no signs of slowing down. How have you made this work after over 15 years together?”
Montgomery Gentry: We continue to find great music with many fine writers here in Nashville who have contributed to our continued success. Eddie and I have a passion for recording, playing loud music along with getting out there on the road performing in front of everybody.
CMM: Even though every album has been a learning curve you have maintained your every man foundation of good solid country. Is that harder to do with each album?
MG: That’s pretty much who we are. The writers around town have gotten used to the style of what we sing. We remain pretty open-minded but we are consistent in the themes of our albums as far as singing about family, faith, the pride of America, our military and the working class. It takes all of us to make this world go ‘round. We have grown up in the clubs and did covers of Waylon, Willie, Cash, Skynard and the Allman Brothers and that is what they sang about, everyday life with its ups and downs and that rubbed off on Montgomery Gentry helping to create our sound. We just continued that tradition of singing about the workin folks out there and those who make this country run and who enjoy a party on the weekend.
CMM: With this new album, “Folks Like Us,” you appear so rejuvenated with a new sense of enthusiasm. Working again with Michael Knox and having a new label, “Blaster Records,” your energy appears like a new you yet remaining the same.
MG: Having that time off, we were still on the road touring and stuff, but having the time to sit down with Michael again and go through the song searching process and working with this new record label where we already knew most of the guys in the town running it was exciting. Having that relationship already made it a lot easier to transition from one to the other. It made it more fun and refreshing to get back to work in the studio again. We found the songs, we put this together, Nashville didn’t. We have always been hands on guys and ya just have to sit down and find those songs. We don’t know how many we listened to but we just found the right ones for us and that we thought our friends out there want to hear.
CMM: It is almost like watching a woman sit and look through a 100 pairs of shoes trying to decide which one or ones to wear.
MG: (Big laughs from Eddie) You know I never thought of it that way but I reckon it is. My wife sure can look at some shoes.
CMM: All the cuts on the album have the known Montgomery Gentry themes with stories to tell that folks can relate to. “We Were There,” reminded me of days gone by.
MG: Yea, it’s kind of a throwback to your upbringing, where you cut your teeth regardless of where you were brought up or what town you grew up in. Anytime you leave and come back and see the changes it always makes you go back and reminisce about the good times, the hangouts, the places you used to enjoy. This song does that and when we first heard the song it made me think of the Lexington days going to high school, and college as well as some of the clubs we used to play and knew everyone could connect with.
CMM: “In A Small Town,” makes one think of the advantages of living in a small town.
MG: (Eddie) I still live in the small town of Danville, KY and I love it, have never thought of leaving. Everyone knows everyone, and if I ever need anything I can make one phone call and somebody will be right there to help.
CMM: “Two Old Friends,” has quickly become my favorite. Solid friendships are tough to hang on to so it makes one take stock of life. And on the flip side I think “Hillbilly Hippies,” would make a great concert song.
MG: It’s a really cool tune and when we first heard the song it reminded us of our relationship throughout the years just hangin out being buddies, the things that have come and gone throughout our career and friendship. Two of our close friends wrote that song so we thought it was cool it made the album. We have talked about adding “Hillbilly Hippies,” and “Down A Dirt Road,” as sort of fun, driving tunes that would go over well on stage.
CMM: The last song, “That’s Just Living,” appears to wrap up the entire album.
MG: Our good buddy, David Lee Murphy wrote that song, and just about anybody has not lived if after listening to this song you don’t go, ‘Oh man, I’ve been there before’. If you can’t relate to some of this then you must have been livin in a house somewhere locked up in a bubble. (The big Eddie laugh)
CMM: Your music comes across as just hanging out on the front porch, telling tales and putting them all to music that you send out to your fans that you call Friends. Is that the feeling when you write some of your own songs.
MG: Pretty much, just how we grew up in the honky tonks, and listening to the stories from our parents. What better stuff to write about then at some point in time somebody has been through some of that stuff. In the clubs that was what we covered, the songs that talked about everyday life, stuff that was identifiable to everybody out there on a day-to-day basis. We want people to hear our songs and know they are believable, that we have gone through some of this or been a part of it.
CMM: Congratulations on the induction into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. It is quite an honor.
MG: Growing up in the clubs there was great and when we walked in there to see all the legends come out in Blue Grass, Motown, pop, actors and actresses it was unbelievable. Just to be part of that means a lot.
CMM: Your smiles are infectious, your stages shows are off the charts and I along with your Friends thank you for all the years of all the music you have given us. You are both in a good place with family and your career after your own personal ups and downs and it shows.
MG: We appreciate it and we hope there are many more years to come. We aren’t ready to be done yet. That is why we are out with this new album and continue to tour because of folks like you and because of our passion for our music.
For more info on the duo including tour dates CLICK HERE