Whether he’s performing onstage with ZZ Top in front of a crowd of thousands, kicking it with his friend Dave Grohl at a Foo Fighters gig or racing ATVs with extreme-sports star Travis Pastrana, Tim Montana has a knack for always being in the right place at the right time. But don’t chalk it up to luck. Rather, it’s Montana’s innate talent, unrelenting hustle and magnetic charisma that have made the country-rock singer-songwriter a dude that everyone — from the famous to the blue-collar — wants to be around.
Raised in the wilds near Butte, Montana, Tim Montana (yes, it’s his real name), entered the world as an off-the-grid thrill-seeker. He and his buddies would take to the nearby mountains to fish, hunt and raise hell as an escape from their rustic home lives — Montana grew up without electricity. Soon, however, he sought out a different high: the kind that only comes from performing live music. Eager to perfect the guitar playing he began when he was just 6 years old, he moved to Los Angeles to put his time in studying his craft—now signed to Music Knox Records/BBR Music Group and about to make his label debut with Cars On Blocks, his hard work paid off.
“Music was an escape from being secluded in the woods. When I played guitar and closed my eyes I was leaving Butte and seeing the world,” Montana says. “When I moved to L.A., I went from having no electricity to living on Hollywood Boulevard. It was quite the culture shock.”
In a uniquely Tim Montana way, he somehow found himself in the company of David Letterman during a trip back home to Montana, and the talk-show host personally invited him to perform on his show. In 2008, Montana sang his song “Butte, America” for a national audience on the Late Show.
Eventually, he ended up in Nashville, where he formed his band the Shrednecks and established himself as a thrilling live performer. He’s a gregarious personality and struck up friendships with such diverse figures as Kid Rock and the Navy SEAL who led the raid to take down Osama bin Laden, Rob O’Neill. During the pandemic, Montana tapped a smattering of his notable circle of friends (Charlie Sheen, Lee Brice, Chris Kirkpatrick, Michael Ray, Chase Rice, Travis Pastrana, to name a few) for the video for his and Mat Best’s song “Quarantine.” He also enlisted Sheen to direct his video for “Mostly Stoned,” off his album, American Thread.
In Kid Rock, Montana found a kindred rebel spirit and began one of his most prolific creative periods, opening for the rap-rock icon and co-writing two charting singles for Rock’s Sweet Southern Sugar album: the Top 10 country hit “Tennessee Mountain Top” and the Number 16 rock anthem “Greatest Show on Earth.”
“We have a lot in common,” he says of his relationship with Rock. “The way we write songs is very similar, our performance style is full-throttle and we instantly hit it off.”
But it’s ZZ Top’s legendary Billy F. Gibbons with whom Montana has formed his longest and most prosperous relationship. Natural collaborators, the pair has written, recorded and performed together countless times, co-writing songs like “Weed and Whiskey,” “Rust and Red” and “This Beard Came Here to Party.”
“Billy and I bonded over beards, and now he is part of the family,” Montana says.
Now, as the Whisker Brothers, Montana and Gibbons have launched their own hot sauce company, Whisker Bomb Pepper Sauce, with the backyard anthem “Good Ol’ BBQ.” Their sauces are now available online and in HEB stores. Barbecue is a cornerstone of Montana’s life, and he regularly gives followers the meat sweats with epic grill photos posted to his Instagram. A brand ambassador for Traeger Grills, Montana has performed with Dave Grohl at the company’s all-star weekend and taught a how-to-barbecue class to music-industry executives. In addition to Traeger, Montana is a spokesperson and influencer for Black Rifle Coffee, Snap-On Tools, Polaris, Fender, Gerber, Giant Bicycles, Indian Motorcycles, Kicker Performance Audio, Orange Amplifiers, Weather Guard and more—and stars in his own show, “Tim Montana’s Wild Side” on Velocity Outdoor Channel. He is also a passionate advocate for the U.S. military, helping tell the stories of patriots like Rob O’Neill and the late “American Sniper” Chris Kyle.
“Working with brands is something I never set out to do, but it happened because I genuinely love products that fit my outdoor lifestyle. I couldn’t sell teeth-whitening stuff, but I can sell a grill,” he quips. “And my heroes have always been soldiers. I love getting to help those guys and acknowledge their sacrifice. I’ll always support the military.”
While Tim is a true renaissance man who moonlights as a foodie, marksman, adrenaline junkie, father, husband, businessman and TV personality, it’s music that remains at the core of the man. The Country rocker whose sound is befitting of the hell-raising outdoorsman, has been used by Fox Sports for its NASCAR telecasts, appeared in the Action Figures 2 film as well as the Tom Berenger film, American Dresser and was selected as the theme song of the Boston Red Sox as they fought to a World Series championship, and later Music City’s NHL franchise the Nashville Predators.
Recently signed with Music Knox Records/BBR Music Group, Tim just released his new project (produced by the award-winning Michael Knox), Cars on Blocks. The project is inspired by Big Sky Country, especially his hometown—often referred to as “Butte America” because its unique makeup of people and otherworldly experiences. Originating as a mining town which attracted many immigrants, today, the area has become synonymous with Evil Knievel, action sports, homemade cars, diverse backgrounds, mountains and trailer parks.
“Cars On Blocks is really an ode to the junkyard dogs and my trailer park upbringing—it took me about a year to write the title track alone because I wanted to make sure people know that it’s a celebration of that low class, ‘if you’re not dirty, nobody trusts you’ mountain life. I am Butte American and damn proud of it.”
The music, befitting of its lyrical themes, is Country rock—but don’t mistake it for southern. With geography impacting Tim’s musical influences, he’s located somewhere between Seattle and its grunge, Texas’ roadhouse, Nashville’s Country, Wyoming’s Chris LeDoux, and the Heartland’s rock, the first four tracks on the project, released November 20, lean into more of Tim’s rock n’ roll influences, which include early days of listening to Tom Petty and Nirvana (on a battery-powered radio).
The title track (inspired by his childhood home, which still has the wheels on it) and “River Kids” both paint a clear picture of Butte life, with “Stronger Than You,” and its apocalyptic melody, displaying the grit acquired from that existence. The four-song release also includes the fast-paced “Do It Fast,” a song inspired by Butte’s lifelong ties to daredevils and Travis Pastrana. The X Games champion and Montana became friends while Pastrana was making his voyage to his idol, Evel Knivel’s hometown (of Butte). Sonically reflecting the sentiment of the lyrics, especially “the key to hard living is to do it fast,” the music video does the same with Pastrana starring alongside 70mph donuts in a Subaru, a flamethrower and will have you checking to see if you got mud in your hair.
“It wasn’t easy for me on Music Row, so I had to work a little bit harder,” he says. “Now we’re doing things in Nashville in a way that hasn’t been done before—and we’re having fun doing it. I loved collaborating with some of Nashville’s best songwriters and getting to share my kind of Country which has a little more barbed-wire and scars—probably more than they’re used to.”
With more music on the way and businesses to keep growing, Montana has recently been tapped to add acting to his growing resume—Montana is set to begin shooting a feature film this winter.
All of this builds on what Montana has already accomplished since breaking out of Butte all those years ago.
But he’s nowhere near finished.
For Montana, the Big Sky is the limit.