Even though Hot Country Knights are just now releasing their debut album The K Is Silent on Friday (May 1), they’ve already had quite a few trips around the sun. And they’re not afraid to tell you all about it.
Especially when you get the band’s frontman Doug Douglason on the phone. There is nothing he won’t share, and no topic he’ll turn down. And his ego is at least a country mile wide. The first thing Douglason told me, for example, is that the 10 tracks on the album aren’t just songs influenced by ’90s country. They are 90s country.
From their mullets to their minivan, Hot Country Knights have been there and that’s why they’re here.
CMT.com: Where are you calling from? Are you guys already on the road, even though we’re supposed to be quarantined?
Doug Douglason: I’m in our minivan, just me and the band. I’m driving over to Dirk Brantley’s house right now to use his free Wi-Fi for a little bit. Because he’s got access to some websites I like, ones that need a little more streaming capabilities, if you know what I mean. Then he’s got a port-a-potty out front that he lets us use, so we’re all gonna clean up a little bit, and head on down to Teaser’s to put on our show. It’s Tuesdays at Teaser’s.
This Dirk Brantley. He produced your album, right?
I mean, if by producer you mean that he just kind of sat behind the controls in the studio and slept a lot, then I guess so.
What was he like behind the scenes?
Well, he did give us $6,000 up front. But that’s pretty much all he did. We had to do the rest of the work. He was going to take us out on tour, but with the quarantine, that probably worked out pretty good for him. Because the world wasn’t ready for us. If they’d seen us, we’d definitely be closing out the shows instead of him. So I guess that it worked out well for him. But we’re fine, because we’re still playing while the rest of Nashville is shut down. We’ve been playing Teaser’s forever. The building holds about 200 people, and we usually have about 20 people show up. And that means there’s 10′ between everyone. It’s not because we don’t have a big following, it’s because we’re just trying to be forward thinking about our fan base and socially distancing. We were way ahead of the curve. People are trying to flatten the curve, but we’ve been beyond the curve on this kind of thinking. That’s just some of the more innovative stuff that we do as a country band. And we’re pretty proud of that, that we’re still working.
Let’s talk about other Man Bands in country music. Do you identify with more modern groups like Old Dominion, or more with the era of Shenandoahs, Diamond Rios and Emerson Drives?
Mmmm. I love that. We are a Man Band, and we are driving around in a minivan. We do like the boys from Diamond Rio. They’ve stolen a lot from us over the years. I mean, there are a lot of bands who have stolen from us. But I have to say I would never associate us with anybody but us. We’re normal folks just like you, but we’re kind of not. We’re kind of special because we are the Hot Country Knights and no one else is. Our fan base knows that — even my special group. This whole time, I’ve always been known as the Cougar King.
Well since you brought it up, let’s talk about that. When you do get to go out on tour — a real tour — what are your expectations groupie-wise?
So the way it’s worked in the band for years, is we each come up with a demo. So you know, Terry our fiddle player has the 18-25 group. And then for Barry our steel guitar player it’s 25-30. I’m have the oldest demo, actually, I’m more in the 65 and older crowd. That’s my wheelhouse. That’s where I do my best work. So my gals are out there. They just want to play and don’t want drama. They have a lot of wisdom and experience which is what I value over anything else. I’ve got a certain section roped off for wheelchairs and accessibility for my audience, my fans. It’s just my forward thinking and the way I give back. During these times, there are essential services that are needed and I definitely provide them for a lot of people in the demo. I’m hoping to get back out there and be able to do what I do best, which is a play country music and then my after-show work. So I expect to be busy on and off stage.
I was surprised to see that one of my favorite songs — the album’s title track — has 12 guys listed as songwriters. Can you talk about what’s that like when 12 voices are trying to be heard?
What I think about most is when we get inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and they mention that song, all of us are going to be there with our publishers. That’s going to be a lot of people, because it’s obviously one of the greatest songs in country music now. It took 12 people to come up with those lyrics like, Hey pretty baby. You’re an 11, did it hurt when he fell from the sky? Fill up ’dem wings ’cause I’m going to teach you how to soar. That’s just something you couldn’t find anywhere else in country music. Maybe Dean Dillon on his best day. Maybe. But this is really just the genius of when you put 12 great minds together, in a minivan, you come up with something like that.
The K Is Silent comes out later this week, but the band has already released five music videos. Enjoy.
Full track listing for The K Is Silent:
1. “Hot Country Knights”
2. “Pick Her Up” (Featuring Travis Tritt)
4. “Moose Knuckle Shuffle”
5. “Then It Rained”
6. “Wrangler Danger”
7. “Mull It Over”
8. “Kings Of Neon”
9. “You Make It Hard” (Featuring Terri Clark)
10. “The USA Begins With US”