With their acid-washed jeans and mullets, the Hot Country Knights aren't just nostalgic for the '90s era of country music. They are stuck in a bygone period.
The band, which is fronted by Doug Douglason, the onstage alter ego for real life country star Dierks Bentley, brings back memories (the good, bad and awkward) about the golden days of commercial country.
The Hot Country Knights have been a staple of Bentley's touring show for years, but during a break in recording and touring, Bentley produced a full album of parody songs called The K Is Silent that hearken back to a time when country stars wore American flag shirts and let their locks grow long in the back.
The fascination with that decade of country music history and its icons is at an all-time high. Billy Ray Cyrus of Achy Breaky Heart" fame earned two Grammys this year for being a guest singer on Lil Nas X's country trap hit Old Town Road," and contemporary artists like Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen are unabashedly influenced by artists from that era.
In an interview with The Associated Press while doing high kicks in jean shorts in Bentley's garage, Douglason talked about comparisons to The Tiger King and whether their music is too sexy for country radio.
AP: Have you seen the The Tiger King? You kind of look like Joe Exotic.
Douglason: TV producers out there in Hollyweird are stealing our ideas. Everyone knows my nickname is the Cougar King. Tiger King, what's that? I'm the Cougar King. I've always preferred my gals to be a little bit older and wiser in the sheets.
AP: You've been touring with Dierks Bentley for years. Why put out an album now?
Douglason: People are buying into the Knights finally. We're not selling out. This is our chance to cash in finally. All these guys have learned from us over the years. You name it, anybody with long hair or used to have long hair. Lots of these guys cut their hair off in the back because they didn't want to give credit where credit is due.
AP: Are some of your songs too sexual for country radio?
Douglason: Our songs are very straight ahead. They are only sexual if you think they are. A song like You Make It Hard with Terri Clark, she does it make it hard for me to leave the room. Always been that way. I walk a little hunched over when I see her. I don't think our lyrics are suggestive at all and anybody that thinks that needs to check their country music history. There's always been Conway Twitty.
AP: You have a patriotic song called USA Begins With Us that seems very timely right now. What is the meaning behind that song?
Douglason: We're kind of color blind. We only see red, white and blue. And this is how we feel about America. We wrote this song before the corona (virus) hit and this is what it is going to take to get us out — all of us coming together. Four score and seven years ago, hallowed be thy name, we came together. Something like that.