Montgomery Gentry are one of the most successful duos in country music history. Consisting of Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, they landed a deal with Columbia Records and shot to fame with the 1999 release of their debut album 'Tattoos & Scars,' which went Platinum on the strength of hit singles like 'Hillbilly Shoes' and 'Lonely and Gone.'

That began a run of hits including 'My Town,' 'Speed,' 'Something to Be Proud Of' and 'Some People Change.' Montgomery Gentry's trademark blend of country and southern rock was even more evident in their celebrated live shows, which became an important part of their continued success.

In 2010 they left Sony, and in October of 2011 the duo released 'Rebels on the Run,' their first project under the auspices of Average Joes Entertainment, an independent label owned by country-rap artist Colt Ford. The single from that album, 'Where I Come From,' reached No. 8 on the charts, and in October of 2012 Montgomery Gentry released the digital-only EP 'Friends & Family,' which features their current single, the divorce-inspired 'I'll Keep the Kids.'

Taste of Country sat down with Montgomery Gentry at the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville to talk about their new label, EP and single, as well as their upcoming appearance at the inaugural Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain this summer. Even amidst the teeming throng of CRS goers, the guys aren't exactly hard to spot -- not only are they both very tall, but Montgomery's trademark hat is like a homing beacon all by itself. Look for the hat, then look down -- and there they are.

Taste of Country: Last year you left Sony and signed with Average Joes. What made that the right move at that time?

Troy Gentry: I think being at a major label for so long, they had done tremendous things for Eddie and I, obviously -- we've been around for 14 years. But at the tail end there was just so much coming and going; they were taking care of the superstars up there, and then they were trying to break so many new acts, and Eddie and I were kind of holding our own. So they didn't have to really pamper us, didn't have to watch over us. And we just felt at that time that when our contract came up, that we wanted to maybe shop around. We came across Average Joes, and it just seemed like a perfect fit.

It's a smaller record label, with more hands-on personal attention. We had already made our brand; we just needed a home that we felt comfortable with, where we could go back in and make the type of music that we wanted to make .

Eddie Montgomery: They gave us our creativity back a lot.

Troy: Yeah, and we just hit it off. It's been a great relationship over there. Our first album with them, 'Rebels on the Run,' we went into the studio with Michael Knox, and it was just, we had the freedom back. You know, Eddie and I were able to sit down and write a lot more than we had in the past, and it was pretty much Michael, Eddie and I picking the songs for the record. It was back like it was when we first got started, able to cut the kind of music we wanted to without having so many cooks in the kitchen trying to dictate what it should sound like.

Eddie: As the corporations were all combining down and getting smaller, everyone got a little scared. They were scared to put their name on album if it didn't do good, and they were scared not to put their name on an album, too.

Troy: I don't have anything bad to say about Sony at all. Without them we would not be where we are today, obviously. It was just time for both the record label and for Montgomery Gentry to make a change.

How did 'Friends and Family' come about?

Eddie: We've know Colt Ford for a while -- quite some time, actually -- and it just came together to have some friends on it at Average Joes and just doing stuff different. It's no different, I reckon, than rap artists doing that; y'know, they have so-and-so featuring so-and-so, and it just worked real good.

Tell us about the single 'I'll Keep the Kids.' What made that the choice?

Eddie: I kinda wrote that song not even thinking about recording it. I mean, I kinda wrote it for me, going through all of the stuff I was going through. But I played it for T and all of the people at the record label, and the band, and they were all like, 'Man, we need to cut this and release this.' And I did not know that nowadays, I think the percentage is 72 percent of all marriages end up in divorce or something. I can't remember where I heard that statistic, but it blew me away.

And we got it out there and everybody started talking about it, saying, "I love this song." They've lived through it -- either as a kid going through it growing up with their parents, or as an adult going through it now. You know, the thing about it is, nobody wins in a divorce except the attorneys. All the kids want to do is love Mom and Dad. And it seems like all the mess starts when couples end up -- even if they start out friends, when they attorney up it seems like that's when everything goes to hell. And it's a shame it's got to come to that, because you've got to have the attorneys and all to go through all of it.

Troy: The more we were playing the song for everybody, we were getting such great reactions; we were just getting a lot of, "Hey man, this is awesome." So we decided this was probably the right record to release as the next single.

You guys are going to be performing at the Taste of Country Music Festival this summer. What can we expect in the set?

Troy: Well, the great thing for us in being around for 14 years is we've got a long list of hits. [Laughs]. Thanks to radio playing us for so many years. We do have a new stage setup, and obviously there'll be a few new songs off 'Rebels on the Run.' But it's gonna be hit after hit.

Our show's always been high-energy, and we've always kinda compared it to a fingerprint. We're always off the cuff, we react to each other and the crowd, depending on the night. As Eddie says, "Anything can happen and it usually does." [Laughs].

Our show is really fueled on the crowd. As much as they want to get into it -- it's like throwing gas on a fire. We really get off on entertaining the crowd, and the more they get into it, the more it gets us fired up.