Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are no strangers to large crowds looking for a good time.
The vocalists of the famed country music duo Montgomery Gentry have been shaking up the country music scene for more than 15 years with their southern rock style and rowdy anthems.
Several of their hit singles including “If You Ever Stop Loving Me,” “Something to Be Proud Of” and “Back When I Knew It All,” have reached No. 1 on Billboard’s country radio charts throughout their reign as one of the industry’s top duos.
The pair will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center as part of their most recent road tour. The Daily Chronicle chatted with Troy Gentry about the message behind their music and what drives their success.
Daily Chronicle: How’s life on the road treating you?
Troy Gentry: Pretty good. We got started a little bit earlier this year than normal. But we’re out here working, which is a good thing.
You guys are veteran performers, but are there any rituals or traditions you have before you go on stage?
Not as much anymore, we used to get together before we started to go on stage, listen to music and have a drink ... But not so much anymore.
Who have been some of your greatest musical influences over the years?
I guess the biggest ones growing up as a kid, learning the trade, [were] Charlie Daniels, Lynard Skynard, Hank Williams Jr. We grew up listening to a lot of southern rock.
So do you try to emulate them with your music?
We did in the early days. In our music today ... I think you can definitely hear influences if that makes any sense ... You can tell they have influenced us in our music.
What about personal influences?
When we’re song searching for new albums and songs, we look for songs that are family oriented ... For me, if it’s something I feel like involves my family or can kind of touch on certain issues of a family ... they inspire those type of songs when we record.
Our earlier albums were more rambunctious with party anthem type of songs. We’ve kind of toned down over the years.
Our music has always been that way. The guys we grew up listening to, we try to pattern ourselves and the every day life we try to identify with. That’s what we try to stay true to.
Your latest single, “I’ll Keep the Kids,” kind of tackles a tough issue with lots of emotion. Where did the inspiration for that song come from?
Eddie has been going through a pretty tough divorce. There’s no good divorces, I guess. So there have been bad times and hard times with that ... There have been some things that came out of that whole mess that kind of inspired that song. That’s kind of the everyday life kind of stuff we try to incorporate [in our music]. That song kind of reached out to a bunch a people even though the subject matter is a little tough ... [People tell us], ‘It’s good to know other people understand what I’ve gone through.’
What kind of overall message do you try to send to those who listen to your music?
We like to have a good time. Like in the lyrics in one of our songs, we pick our parties. There’s a time and a place for everything. I’d like to think we’ve matured not only as artists but as people and we would like to show that in our music as we go into the studio and perform.
You and Eddie have been a country music powerhouse for awhile now and you’re still going strong. How do you do it?
I think it’s putting out music that everybody wants to hear. We’ve been fortunate enough to have people enjoy what we want to record. And country radio has been really good to us.
I think it’s putting out music that matters and music people can identify with.
And our shows are entertaining. They’re high energy. I hope when people leave our shows they are just as tired and worn out as we are.
What are your plans for the future as a duo?
We’re staying pretty busy this summer but we are looking to get back to the studio sometime this fall.
[But] we’re road warriors, we love being out on the road. We could do this all year long.
If you go
What: Montgomery Gentry with Chuck Wicks
Where: NIU Convocation Center, 1525 Lincoln Highway, DeKalb
When: 7 p.m. Sunday; doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $36 and $26 (NIU students get $5 discount with OneCard), available at NIU Convo box office, 800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.