Festivals Interviews

Rascal Flatts

No new name to the country scene, Rascal Flatts have released six studio albums where 10 of their singles have hit No. 1. Not to mention, their fan base spans worldwide. With a summer U.S. tour in the works and new album, Unstoppable climbing the charts, the trio had much to say in the CMA press conference. Whether it was joking about Cascada’s remake of their hit, “What Hurts the Most,” or talking about their current tour, one thing is certain: Rascal Flatts is one class act that’s not going anywhere.

This is the only music event that allows you to go one-on-one with your fans with meet and greets and signings.
Joe Don Rooney: It’s a wonderful opportunity. This is the only thing this town does where you can get as many country music fans in one place at once. And it’s really great for us too because we get to see a lot of the artists that we’re friends with that we don’t get to see all year long because we’re all busy and we’re all on the road. It’s a chance to reconnect with some of our friends in the business as well.

The best part is being able to see so many fans at one time. It’s just a wonderful event. I think we’re probably the only genre that does this kind of event where artists are so accessible to the fans. We’re very proud to be a part of that.

Jay DeMarcus: That’s what I’m most proud about too: that we’re the only genre that gets to do it. Even people in other genres, when you go to the Grammy’s and AMA’s and that kind of stuff, like Snoop, or someone will go, “I think that’s the coolest thing, having all your fans there. Ya’ll crazy, but man that’s cool.” We’re really proud to do that.

Did you hear the dance version of “What Hurts the Most?”
Gary LeVox: Yeah, that’s the thing that hurt us the most. [Laughs]. [In London] they thought that we were doing the remake. They’re like, “You’re doing Cascada’s song.” We’re like, “No, no. That was our song first.”

Jay DeMarcus: Every time we did an interview over there they were like, “Why did you remake Cascada’s song?” And we were like, “Nah-uh. You got that backwards there pal.”

You just launched the “American Living” tour. You have a few stadium dates, Wrigley Field and then are going home to Crew Stadium.
Joe Don Rooney: Chicago is going to be fabulous. Brian O’Connell with Live Nation brought that to the table a few months back and asked us if we’d be interested in doing Wrigley Field. I think we said, “Are you crazy?” It’s going to be awesome to go back and play. We’ve got Darius Rucker with us and Vince Gill is going to come out with us. I don’t know how we talked him into it, but he’s going to come out with us, which is great.

Gary LeVox: It’s really cool to be able to do Wrigley because we’re the third act ever to do Wrigley. I think Elton John and U2 maybe.

Joe Don Rooney: I do think Jimmy Buffett was one of the two. It’s going to be crazy with all this history with Wrigley Field, which never had to do with music, but we’re taking music to Wrigley Field, which is really special. It’s going to be a great night.

Jay DeMarcus: Columbus Crew. It’s funny because growing up all I wanted to do was to play soccer and there was no soccer stadium. So, now there is and now I’m playing music in it. It’s actually the last night of the Ohio State Fair so it’s great to be home and it’s great to play outside.

Your fans voted for you in two categories for the CMT Music Awards.
Gary LeVox: Fan-voted award shows are our favorite. I wish all of them would be fan voted. When we go into the studio to make an album, to make music, to go tour, they’re our employers. That’s who we make the music for. It’s great that they have a voice in it and we’re honored every time that we’re up for a fan-voted, fan-nominated award show. It’s a great honor. They’re the reason we make music. It’s great that they’ve nominated us for things that we’ve done in our careers. It makes it big. We’ve enjoyed doing it for them. We do have the greatest fans on the planet.

From the start, your career has gotten bigger every year. How big can it be? What’s the ultimate show for you to put on?
Jay DeMarcus:
I think we’re going to get so big we’re going to explode one of these days and have to go right back down to an acoustic. I don’t know. It presents its challenges year after year to try and top what you’ve done and try to be bigger and better than what we were the year before. Actually, what we did this year, is we scaled back a bit. We made it more about the music.

The set’s a little more simple and a little more sleek. It’s still a great show with a lot of interactive video and lights. But, we made this show, and this tour in particular, more about the music and we’ve tried to cram as much music into 90 minutes as we possibly can. People are going to be very disappointed that I don’t get to do a standup routine this year. It’s going to disappoint a lot of fans. We’re really packing a lot of music in and I’m proud of that. We’ve taken a step back from the big, bombastic sets we’ve done in the past.

Does that feel more comfortable?
Jay DeMarcus:
It’s a change. The last couple tours we’ve done have been huge and the sets have been gigantic. You get to rely on those things; those technologies and the things that make your show spectacular. Now, the entertainment value is squarely on our shoulders and we’re proud of that. It’s something that we look forward to. It’s an interesting challenge to be responsible for all the entertainment.

You’re so well known for putting together a well-constructed show for your fans. What’s the difference playing a shorter show at a festival like this? Do you work on your set list a different way?
Jay DeMarcus: It’s a different stage experience for us because we feel like we’re just getting started by the time that it’s over. We definitely like to take our crowds on a journey and there is very little time to do that within 25 to 30 minutes. We try to pick some songs, obviously do some of the big ones that people want to hear and do our current singles, which we’re so thankful for. “Here Comes Goodbye” we just celebrated being the No. 1 record last week. We’re definitely going to do that tonight. It’s difficult to do all the things that you like to do as an artist within a limited amount of time.

Joe Don Rooney: And we’re outside. It’s the biggest party in Nashville for country music so you don’t want to get up there and do a whole bunch of ballads.

Jay DeMarcus: Which is tough for us because that’s all we sing. [Laughs]

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