For nearly a decade, Montgomery Gentry (singers Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry) has produced honky-tonk music for the masses. The duo's Top 10 hits number in the double digits, and its latest album, Back When I Knew It All, has contributed to that number. Calling at 9 a.m. one recent morning from a place identified as "Hell, I'm not for sure, brother; I wish I could tell you and be right," Montgomery talked about the band's roots and its current tour with Toby Keith. What's a guy like you doing up this early in the morning?
Uh, you know, I don't sleep a whole lot. I've been lucky my whole life. I've been blessed by the man upstairs. I figure, shoot, there'll be plenty of time for sleeping down the road. Life is very short, and I'm gonna live every second I can. I'll be smiling every day and seeing what I can get into.
I guess you really do "pick your parties" these days.
Yeah, we try to do that a little bit more and don't let them pick us.
Tell me about touring with Toby Keith. Is there anything bad you can say about him?
Let's see. I don't know if you wanna say anything bad about him. He's a big ol' boy too. We're cut from the same cloth. We're all country boys. You always want them on your side. I tell you, it's been a blast so far. I can't say anything bad at all. I want to put in there that the catering was awesome too. We're just a couple of country boys, and we like to live life. That's what it's all about.
You come out of a honky-tonk tradition, and that still permeates your music. Are you at all surprised your music has become as popular as it has, given that true honky-tonk doesn't get a lot of airplay these days? You listen to the stories when the working class comes into the nightclubs, whether they're going to school or working jobs. We just listen to their stories. Some nights, man, people come in and want to hear something killer and upbeat, because they just got a promotion or were getting married. Other people lost their wives or gigs. We were there six nights a week. It wasn't like we went in and played a 45-minute set. We sang about the good, the bad and the ugly, and the party on the weekend.
I think it's great you've stuck to your working-class roots.
It's so funny. Record-label people have tried to change us. We haven't. We know we're not for everybody. What you see with us is what you get. We'll drink a shot of Jim Beam or a glass of iced tea with you. We probably cuss too much. You won't find nobody that will have any more fun than we will. When we get down the road, I want to be saying, "I wish I hadn't done that," rather than "I wish I had done that."
You have a video on your website of you and the crew joking around like you're at a picnic, playing cornhole and cooking out.
One big picnic.
That's what it is. We don't call anybody fans. We call them friends. We got the only honky-tonk on wheels. It's open 24-7, and, of course, we're sponsored by Jim Beam. There's always people coming on and off our buses. We never considered ourselves celebrities. We're good ol' country boys who like to have a good time. Why do you and Troy Gentry get along so well?
Besides that videotape we got on each other when we were teenagers? We were friends first and not something put together by Nashville. The [label] told us, "We'll come and get you out of jail one time, and that's it. Then you're on your own." I appreciate them for staying right behind us. We're just humans, and things do happen. If you ain't got no scratches or scars, more than likely you ain't lived a whole lot of life. I reckon with T, we just click. We were friends, and unlike other duos, both of us sing. We're both lead singers, and we were both friends and put the band together. It's not something like, "You guys get with that guy, and we'll make a duo."