"We still look at life the same way we did when we were working two jobs and playing music at night in the clubs to make ends meet," said Gentry. "I don't think we've changed."
The upshot is that they maintain a seamless connection with their legions of fans, voicing their triumphs and frustrations, sharing their love of family, community and country, spending time with them after concerts on their "honky-tonk on wheels." It is a camaraderie that grows out of their fans' perceptions that these are not guys chasing trends or singing songs that are more craft than substance, but two men who sing the truth and let the chips fall where they may.
On You Do Your Thing, that truth includes straight-up heartache in "Gone" and "All I Know About Mexico," the redemptive power of love in "If You Ever Stop Loving Me" and "Talking To My Angel," pride and tradition in "Something To Be Proud Of," and pull-out-the-stops escapism in "I Got Drunk." They even had the opportunity to hook up with one of their all-time heroes, Hank Jr., on "I Ain't Got It All That Bad."
"We opened for Hank one time, and he said from stage, 'I've only got two rowdy friends left - Kid Rock and Montgomery Gentry.' That's pretty cool," said Gentry.
Relationship with two songwriting titans expanded
For You Do Your Thing, Montgomery Gentry expanded their growing relationship with two of modern country's songwriting titans, Jeffrey Steele ("Cowboy In Me," "These Days," "My Town") and Rivers Rutherford ("Real Good Man," "For The Money"), who wrote and produced several of the CD's tracks.
"Once you get to click with somebody," said Montgomery of the pair, "it just works. You hang out and you pick up each other's vibes and get in a zone. We consider ourselves fortunate because these are two unbelievable writers."
In addition, they worked with producers Joe Scaife, who produced Montgomery Gentry's "Carrying On," and Blake Chancey, noted for his work with the Dixie Chicks and for his production of Montgomery Gentry's "My Town." Executive producer was Mark Wright, the man behind some of Nashville's rootsiest music over the past two decades. The extensive collaboration gives the project a sense of community that hearkens back to an earlier time.
"If you go back and look," said Montgomery, "you had Waylon and Willie, Johnny, Kris Kristofferson, all these guys hanging out. They played music in barrooms, they'd sit around in a living room and pick all the time. There was no 'You've gotta be a certain way or play with this group or do this or that.' We're the same way."
"We grew up in a honky-tonk," added Gentry, "where musicians would come in all the time and get up and sit in with us. That's the way we believe music should be, with all these people coming together. The bottom line is it's about the song and the music."
Their backgrounds in Kentucky, in fact, provide the keys to their personas. Montgomery grew up in his family's band in a household with musical equipment in the living room and bartenders for babysitters. He and his brother, John Michael, spent their formative years in honky-tonks, falling in love with the music of Hank Jr., Charlie Daniels, Willie, Waylon, Haggard, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Gentry and his mother sang along at home with the music of Elvis and Bruce Springsteen, and he picked up a love for George Jones, Haggard, and Hank Jr. By high school, he was in his first talent contest, and the music of Randy Travis was inspiring him to try to make a career of music.
Montgomery brothers and Gentry had been in band called Young Country