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  • Tracy Heck

Rick Monroe & The Hitmen playing Freedom Hill with Ted Nugent

Tonight, Rick Monroe & The Hitmen will be hitting the stage at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill opening for Ted Nugent on his Detroit Muscle Tour.

The Nashville-based country band has toured the world opening for acts like Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Aaron Lewis, Charlie Daniels and Dwight Yoakam.

Recently, Rock Life spoke with frontman Rick Monroe, who talked about the new tour, upcoming music and what's next for the band.

Rock Life: Where are you at today?

Rick Monroe: I'm in Nashville. I'm actually at home before we take off for almost a month.

RL: I know you're going to be out this way in Detroit in just a couple of weeks.

RM: Yeah, that's going to be cool. It should be a lot of fun. It's kind of a bummer because our buddies in Saving Abel are playing The Machine Shop and I really wanted to go play that, but then we picked up this tour and it was like well, we can go play one show with you guys or tour with Ted Nugent. It was like, well, we'll catch you later! [laughs]

RL: What does it mean to you guys to be able to do this tour?

RM: It's been awesome so far. We've only done a couple of dates so we go out next week and really hit the meat of the tour. It should be a lot of fun. Every night has been great and sold out and the crowds have been amazing and Ted himself is just a great guy.

RL: What do you want people who are coming out to know about your set?

RM: Well, we're from Nashville and we're kind of a country band, but we definitely have a set with teeth in it. We start with something that's going to kick people. Some stuff that we're playing is unreleased material.

We have "Devil" and "Bad Stretch of the Road," which are the first two songs and those are something that we just did with Malcolm Springer (The Low-Down Drifters, Nappy Roots, Matchbox Twenty, and Collective Soul.) And then there's "Cocaine Cold and Whiskey Shakes," which is off of the Smoke Out the Window album and we do our cover of "Ace of Spades" because we thought that one would go over well, which it has. Then we have one of our older songs "Gypsy Soul," which is how we close the set.

Yeah, so it's pretty cool. It works out really well. We also have a newer song called "World Gone Crazy," which a lot of Nugent's fans can relate to so it works. If people think they are just coming to see a country band, I think they are going to be surprised.

RL: And you have the "Common Ground" single out with B. Stille and that definitely appeals to a wider audience.

RM: Yeah, unfortunately we don't have B. out with us. If we could we would definitely do it. If I tried to do it without him it would just look and sound stupid. I mean I could do it, but it just doesn't sound the same. We've done a couple of shows with him actually coming out and doing the song and that was amazing! That came together really great and I always say when I hear people saying I don't like this or that, hey, common ground, just take a breath and maybe we'll find something we can both agree on.

I have a podcast called Road Life and B. was just on it and he was like, man, there's pretty much five things that we probably don't all agree on and for everything else we pretty much do. He was like, I like movies and you like movies and I like comics and you like comics and was just going through this list of things that people have more in common with.

It's weird because it used to be things like politics and religion and things that people do fight about just weren't talked about. You just never talked about them because why fight with people? And it's so weird because when you get in person with people they are so different from when they are online. We've done a couple of these things where we asked people what common ground is and they were all kind of like well, when we're here at the bar we're all the same, but when we get online people start fighting.

RL: What's the plan for the rest of the year?

RM: Well, we've got this tour until September and then we got a festival called Taste of Madison in Wisconsin and we're playing a bunch of dates there. Then we've got another festival called Lost Highway, which I don't think has been announced yet. We're also doing the Country Luau with Brantley Gilbert and Brett Young. Then we're going to Switzerland to co-headline a festival called Schupfart. October will be kind of the same bag of stuff and then we'll just see where we go in November because we'd like to pick up another tour. This one has been good for us and word is getting out that we're a good band to take on tour.

RL: You've been able to get a lot of experience on the road, but as an opener, what do you feel is the best way to get the crowd involved?

RM: Well, first you kick them in the teeth with a couple of songs right off the bat. You let them know you're here to do some damage. Then you start interacting with them a little bit and as the show progresses, you keep bringing them in. We close with "Gypsy Soul" and at the end they're all standing up and singing. If you give them all you've got, they'll feel it.

RL: With the "God's Ear" track you had the partnership with St. Jude's, is that something you'd like to do more of?

RM: Oh definitely! This year, another event that we're doing is UCI out in California, which is their "beat cancer" contest or something like that. It's a really cool thing and they are doing a big 5K and 10K and a bike ride and all of that. We're doing the national anthem and playing a show. Monster Energy is our main sponsor and this is one of their big projects that they sponsor. Cancer research is important to me because I lost my brother and my dad and most recently my dog. Anything I can do to be apart of that is important and we also like to do a lot of military stuff.

RL: When can fans expect some more new music?

RM: We went in and did an entire new album with Malcolm Springer. We cut like thirteen songs and we've been slowly rolling those out. We will be coming out with a new song fairly soon and keep that rolling. Eventually we'll do a pressing of a vinyl and maybe do some cds.

RL: Anything you want to say to the fans coming out to the upcoming shows?

RM: Just be ready to have a great time! Ted's like 74, but he's playing like he's in his twenties. He's just killing it! We're having a great time and we're very accessible. We'll be at the merch table and we want to see and meet people as much as we can so come find us.

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