On Thursday (Jan. 2), Dierks Bentley embarked on a new, uncharted chapter of his career. His goofball '90s country group the Hot Country Knights, fronted by his be-mulleted, windbreaker-clad alter-ego Douglas "Doug" Douglasson, signed a record deal with Universal Music Group Nashville.

Before the band officially announced their signing, Bentley hinted at a press event that he was excited for the future of the Knights, especially because it will allow him to explore a new skill set. "You know, I have kind of enjoyed stepping into more of a production role. I've never produced before," he notes. "So I'm trying on my producer shoes with these guys."

Bentley dryly adds that his thoughts on the Knights are a little complicated: Though he admires their talent, he concedes that their strong personalities have often landed them in trouble.

"The Hot Country Knights are one of the greatest '90s bands that ever really had a chance to ever break through, so I've taken a little sympathy on them," the singer deadpans, seamlessly keeping a straight face. "Great band, lotta talent there. Lotta anger. Lotta resentment. There've been some lawsuits as well, and legal trouble."

Indeed, the Knights have never shied away from controversial statements. Upon signing their new deal, the group said that they planned to restore a much-needed rugged masculinity to a genre that has lately drifted too far towards navel-gazing, singer-songwriter-dominated introspection.

"Some artists out there tried to put the 'O' back in country, that was a thing for a while ... but what it's really missing is the 'T,'" Douglasson remarked at the time. "Country music has Low-T right now ... it could use a pick-me-up, if you know what I mean. Those record label people over at Universal finally realized that only the Knights could be up to a task this big and hard."

While Bentley didn't comment on the Knights' mission statement, he did encourage his fans to keep their eyes on the rising act. "Go to Instagram, [find] Hot Country Knights -- the 'K' is silent," he added. "You can follow along."