FORT LORAMIE, Ohio - It s pretty easy to identify Eddie Montgomery these days.
He s usually the guy with the big smile on his face, and the jagged
scar up his left wrist - the result of surgery after breaking his wrist during a fall on stage last year.
It s all metal. I m like the terminator now, he says with a big laugh outside his bus before a recent show at Country Concert in Fort Loramie, Ohio. We live life. That s the way we love it. We re going to have fun because that s what it s all about. That s why we got in the music business.
Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, known among country music fans as Montgomery Gentry, have been together on the road now for more than seven years.
They ve moved from rocking the honky-tonks in Kentucky to being one of the rowdiest and most popular groups on the road.
They come across on stage as wild boys, and there s plenty of evidence of that after their shows when they typically cram 50 people on the bus each night for an after-show party, but they are also devoted family men. Eddie and wife Tracy have four children: Kevin, Brooke, Candace, and Hunter.
When you re out on the road as much as we are, you miss your family a lot, Montgomery says. Sometimes the kids will call and say, Dad, I hit a home run, or Dad, I won a cheerleading competition. No doubt, you miss your family the most.
While a good chunk of Sony s roster got slashed after a recent merger with BMG, Montgomery Gentry is still going strong. Next week, Some People Change, the first single off of their upcoming album, will hit radio. The new album should show up in stores in September.
I ve been on the bus listening to the songs on the new album, seeing what needs to be tweaked, Montgomery says. We ve been going back to Nashville between dates to tweak the record.
In a business as high profile and demanding as music, it s not uncommon for those tensions to tear apart groups. But at the base of their professional relationship is a rock-solid friendship for Eddie and Troy. They both literally grew up in honky-tonks as children of musicians, and they ve been playing together since their days in Kentucky, when they were part of a band called Young Country.
In some ways, our relationship is a lot like a marriage. It s a partnership, Montgomery, 42, says. We ll finish each other s sentences, and we probably know more about each other than our wives do. We ve always worked well together.
The chemistry is apparent on stage as they feed off of each other s energy. Eddie s the microphone-slinging, stomping-around showman. Troy is the hard-rocker.
Man, when we hit that stage, there s no rush like it. You ve got the guitars rockin , people singing the songs back at you. There s no drug in the world that can give you that kind of rush, and I tried a bunch of them when I was a lot younger, trust me, Montgomery says with a hearty laugh. It s all about having a party in this great
country of ours, and you can thank our American heroes for that right.
Eddie and Troy don t shy away from their flag-waving patriotism.
Country music is known for its patriotism, but Montgomery Gentry talk the talk and walk the walk. They not only speak proudly of the troops, they also block out segments of their schedule to visit with them. They recently returned from a trip to Kuwait, Iraq, and Germany.
I wish the media would give our heroes a break. They re not really fighting the Iraqis. It s the Syrians and Iranians, people that can t go back home and have nothing to lose.
He gushes over the experience, saying it s changed my life totally.
We were doing two shows a day, getting up at 4 a.m. and going to bed at 1:30. And I ll tell you what, military time is a whole lot different than musician time. When a general tells you to get up at 4 and eat at 4:28, you re up at 4 and eat at 4:28.
Being in a war zone, Eddie and Troy got the whole war experience. At one point, an improvised explosive device detonated within a mile of their convoy.
Everyone over there, other than Americans, apparently thought our music sucked, Montgomery chuckled.
As they near the release of their latest album, Montgomery Gentry is still going strong, still on the road for close for 250 day a year.
We keep growing every year. Eventually you ll get to the top and start coming back down. We re lucky, we keep growing, Montgomery says. We ve still got that desire to make tonight s show better than last night s, the next album better than the last. ... We re like you and everyone else. What you see is what you get. We love living life, and we re going to live every second of it.