August 4, 2006
Montgomery Gentry oppose the fighting
By -- Edmonton Sun

Just as you shouldn't accuse antiwar protesters of being unpatriotic, support for the troops does not necessarily mean support for the war.

This is what Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry has to say about that: "Eddie (Montgomery) and I oppose the war. We wish that we could have all of our soldiers back home right now, but while U.S. President Bush is asking them to do a job, Eddie and I are going to support the decisions of the president and our military that are over there doing the job they're asked to do."

Backing up the talk was a trip to Iraq in March for a series of USO shows. The band returns to friendly territory this weekend for the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose. They play tonight.

Gentry recalls getting the jitters about going into a war zone, "I was a little paranoid. I've got a three-year-old at the house and I had concerns about leaving my family in case something was to happen. I even went as far as getting a doctor's note to try to get me out of going, but I sat and talked to a bunch of people, Toby Keith, Gary (LeVox) from Rascal Flatts, who had been over there already.

They made me feel comfortable about going over there and giving the troops a little bit of what they've been missing. I was very glad I did it. I was asked if I'd ever go back. I'd do it at the drop of a hat."

You could argue that supporting the decisions of the president is tantamount to supporting the war, but we're not going to do that. After the interview last week, management for the country duo complained we didn't talk enough about music.

So let's talk about music. While not overtly political on a grand scale, a good deal of Montgomery Gentry's songs have an agenda, usually seen through the eyes of individuals - honest, hard-working folk the songs are aimed at. Whether the singers wrote them or not is irrelevant. Songs chosen from among thousands speak to a country artist's feelings and opinions as much as an original tune.

The band's hit My Town, from the 2000 album of the same name, is typical. It's a love letter to small-town life, replete with rusty tractor, beloved water tower and a packed church every Sunday.

The song recently appeared on a CMT Top-10 list of country songs George W. Bush should listen to because, among other things, he seems to be out of it when it comes to country music. Then there's this line loaded with Michael Moore-ian import, "There ain't much going on here since they closed the mill." And what caused the mill to close? Maybe that's a topic for a Bruce Springsteen song.

You Do Your Thing came out two years ago, the title track expressing an almost libertarian/separatist ideal inside what appears to be a song about tolerance - you do your thing, I'll do mine. Lines like "I ain't gonna spare the rod, 'cause that ain't what my daddy did" caused a bit of a stir. A critic for the Internet review site Pitchfork Media called the song "both a s---- stomping power ballad and a force of oppression."

Gentry stresses the core message of the song, "America is built on the idea of being able to have the right to choose the things you say and do without being judged. Don't judge me because of something you believe in that I may not."

In stores Oct. 17 is Montgomery Gentry's new studio album, Some People Change. You can hear the single - again, the title track - on the radio now.

It's a ballad, this one definitely kinder and gentler than You Do Your Thing or any of the duo's raucous numbers like I Got Drunk and the self-explanatory Hell Yeah. These Kentucky boys are in their 40s now - or close enough - and family responsibilities have taken priority over the incessant hell-raising that marked Montgomery Gentry's earlier days. Sooner or later, hell-raising turns into heck-raising.

As for new material, "I think this album is based more on family issues, the love of the family, the love of neighbours, relationships," Gentry says. "The new single out now is about being able to challenge your inner demons and the things that can bring people down, alcoholism, or hatred or racism, Just because it's been in the family, you can dig yourself out of the barrel and be a better person. People can do that.

"Like ADD and all these other diseases that doctors claim that we have so they can sell some drugs, I think your own inner strength can get you through a whole lot more than what people give themselves credit for."