As the fourth or fifth best 90s country band in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the Hot Country Knights are coming into their own with their debut album, The K is Silent.
Established in 2015 by Dierks Bentley, the Hot Country Knights feature Bentley’s alter ego, Doug Douglason, and his road band who transform into the parody group honoring 90s country. After years of performing pop-up shows and opening stints on Bentley’s tours, the Knights officially signed a record deal with UMG Nashville in January 2020. Their debut album, The K is Silent, was released on May 1 and boasts 10 humorous tracks including lead single “Pick Her Up” featuring Travis Tritt and “You Make it Hard,” a duet between Douglason and Terri Clark.
The Knights’ origin story is set inside an Olive Garden in their hometown of Murfreesboro in the 1990s. Douglason had recently moved back after a failed attempt at an acting career in Silicon Valley, California when the guys convened at the Italian restaurant chain, bonding over their love of country music. They soon began booking steady gigs at local dive bar, Teasers, on Tuesday nights, serving as the formative days where the group developed signature dance moves like the “Doug Thrust” and “Reverse Rose Handout.”
Flash forward more than 20 years later to the release of the Knights’ debut album, co-written and co-produced Bentley. In a Zoom video conference call with members of the Nashville media, Douglason takes a few cheap shots at Bentley, referring to him by such nicknames as “Jerks Gently,” yet credits the hit maker for helping to foster their trademark sense of humor in the studio. “We’ve been a seriously fun band for a long time,” Douglason shares with Sounds Like Nashville and other media. “Working with [Dierks Bentley] has helped us embrace a little bit more of a comedic aspect, recognize that it’s okay to have fun.”
The group embodies this comedic edge on “Then it Rained.” You may recognize the melody as that of the Garth Brooks’ staple, “The Thunder Rolls.” However, Douglason insists that the Knights recorded “Then it Rained” before Brooks released his massive hit in 1991. Though they may have missed their shot in the 90s, Douglason believes that the song’s meaning is more relevant now with the COVID-19 pandemic causing the world to shelter in place. “I like to have songs that can have different meanings at different times, and I feel like this song is one of the songs that evolves. Right now, I feel like for a lot of men out there, there’s a lot of a tension with the Corona lockdown quarantine,” Douglason explains, adding that the song represents how the Knights are “innovators.” “This song doesn’t really go anywhere. It just leaves you hanging, it leaves you wanting more, it leaves you unsatisfied. This is a new category that hasn’t been serviced yet.”
Douglason also notes that while the Knights exhibit emotional and even sexual tension in their music, they also embrace a softer side, particularly on the introspective “Mull it Over,” which he cites as the most personal song on the record. “’Mull it Over’ is a dual meaning between mulling over a situation, and ‘mullet’ over, which is the hair,” the singer explains. “It’s the chance to showcase our vocals, our harmonies, as well as our great songwriting – and our hair, which is really what a lot of people come out to the show for anyways.” What makes the song particularly special is that it symbolizes the unbreakable bond forged between the band of brothers, especially in times of heartbreak. “I’ve had my heart broken before, believe it or not. I’ve had some moments where I had to mull it over,” Douglason reflects on the “tender” song. “The band really lean in with the lyrics, of the harmony vocals, and support me like a good pair of Huggies. Getting that emotional support from those guys, I appreciate that; it’s why we’re a band. That song really showcases the support we have for each other.”
Through The K is Silent, the eccentric group solidifies an unwavering fact: the Knights aren’t changing their ways no matter how many years pass by. “We’re always going to be the greatest nineties country band of all time,” Douglason proclaims. “We’re always going to be the Knights.”