In what they describe as the “best stuff to come out of Nashville from a man band in several decades,” the Hot Country Knights released their debut album The K Is Silent on Friday (May 1).
The Capitol Records Nashville band, comprised of band leader Douglas (“Doug”) Douglason, lead bass player Trevor Travis, lead guitarist Marty Ray (“Rayro”) Roburn, keytar/fiddle player Terotej (“Terry”) Dvoraczekynski, steel guitarist Barry Van Ricky and percussionist Monte Montgomery, delivered a 10-track record, produced and co-written by country superstar Dierks Bentley.
The album features hit writers Brett Beavers, Jim Beavers, Jon Randall, Jon Nite, Chase McGill and more, and ’90s icons Travis Tritt and Terri Clark join the Knights as collaborators on two of the tracks.
Bentley recently talked to MusicRow about his work with the stellar ’90s-influenced band, 30 years in the making.
“My manager realized this is not going to go away,” Bentley said of Red Light Management’s Mary Hilliard Harrington. “She wanted it to go away, but realized this is not going to go anywhere. So, if you can’t beat them, join them. She just leaned in on it. She just put together this crazy writing retreat in Colorado leading into our Seven Peaks festival, which was really fun.
“We wrote some songs with this project in mind and came back to Nashville and the Hot Country Knights went in the studio and cut these songs. I’ve told everyone from very beginning that this is a seriously fun project. It’s fun but it’s serious, and we put a lot of time into the writing and to the musicianship on the record. We really tried to make sure that the production was such that it felt like the ’90s but also felt contemporary. We wanted people that knew ’90s country and the producers in town [to be in on it]. Some of these songs modulate twice, which is funny. It’s just there—little bits and pieces of production where people hear it and think, ‘Oh my God, it’s so funny that those guys added that little piece of production to some of the songs.’ Some fans might not get that but people that live here would, so it’s a little of something for everybody.”
On songs like the sensual duet with Terri Clark on “You Make It Hard” and the ‘cheeky’ ode to road life on “Asphalt,” Bentley says he doesn’t consider them parody songs.
“We didn’t want to write a parody album. It’s gotta be the kind of stuff where my mom back in Phoenix can listen to it and not get the joke. She hears ‘You Make It Hard’ and she just thinks it’s a beautiful love song. She hears ‘Asphalt’ and thinks it’s just a song about the road, which was the goal,” Bentley says with a laugh. “Someone will say to me, ‘Do you think they got the joke?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s so great that they didn’t. That’s perfect.’ With songs on the record like ‘Pick Her Up’ with Travis Tritt that are straight forward with no joke on the inside, that just throws people off a little bit more, like ‘What is this?’ I feel like it was kind of like a mission accomplished on that front. I’m excited about that.”
“You Make It Hard” is another byproduct of Harrington, who is credited as a songwriter on the tune.
“I think that’s her first [songwriter credit],” Bentley said. “When we’re making the album, it wasn’t a checklist but there’s certain colors that songwriters in the ’90s used that we don’t use as much on songs today. With ‘Moose Knuckle Shuffle,’ you’ve got your line dance song, we have ‘The USA Begins With US’ because it’s a great patriotic song. ‘Then It Rained’ has a little bit Garth Brooks’ ‘The Thunder Rolls’ [influence], it’s got the drama. We were just really like missing that Tim and Faith thing. We were in the studio listening to the album, and we just wrote it right there. Jim Beavers spearheaded it. We wrote it in the studio in about half an hour.”
The Hot Country Knights had big plans for the release of their debut project, with a 13-city trek tour, including stops at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and the Talladega Superspeedway. The 2020 One Knight Stand Tour was slated to feature Hannah Dasher, Tenille Townes, Rachel Wammack and Lainey Wilson as openers for the Knights, but has since been postponed.
“We were allotted to play the ACMs with Travis Tritt,” Bentley said. “Four and half minutes with him on there doing a medley of our stuff and his, and then April 29 was our Ryman gig. Mary had a very ambitious, well thought-out game plan lined up and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get a chance to execute it, but it’s been fun regardless.”
The K Is Silent is available for purchase and streaming everywhere now. Read more of the conversation with Bentley in the upcoming MusicRow Artist Roster print issue.
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