Rascal Flatts’ Secret to Success: ‘We Kept the Side Mirrors Off’
Rascal Flatts have spent almost two decades as country music artists. The trio, made up of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, burst onto the scene with their Top 5 hit “Prayin’ for Daylight,” from their self-titled freshman album, in 2000, and never looked back. Now, as they celebrate their 14th No. 1 hit with “Yours If You Want It,” from their 10th studio album, Back to Us, the Flatts concede they may deserve some, but certainly not all, of the credit for their unstoppable success.
“We spent our entire career with side mirrors off and totally just focusing straight ahead,” LeVox told The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. “And then, once we switched record labels [from Lyric Street to Big Machine] and switched management and all that, we kind of had to take a look around and see what was going on and what we wanted to do, what we still had to say.”
Rascal Flatts have found success with uptempo hits such as “Mayberry” and “I Like the Sound of That” as well as with ballads such as “Bless the Broken Road” and “What Hurts the Most.” But one thing the threesome have tried not to do is emulate the success of others in the industry; they’ve only tried to beat themselves.
“We’ve not always been trendsetters, but we’ve always pushed the envelope and made our own way with our own sound, and pushed it,” explains LeVox. “We’ve always continued to push ourselves, [asking], ‘What is the next thing that we can do?’ We’ve got a couple songs that we pushed out that we kind of chased the fad, maybe a little bit, and they didn’t work out as well as what we thought. We loved the songs, we loved the music, but it wasn’t the core of what we were as an act.”
Back to Us is, in many ways, Rascal Flatts’ statement about who they are, both as artists and individuals.
“I think that’s part of the reason why this one hearkens back a bit,” explains Rooney. “[There’s] lot of good uptempo stuff on this album that we’re really proud of, really hit the right spot. Ballads — one song in particular, Gary sings the fire out of … you know he’s singing something he believes in. That’s all over this record.”
Releasing Back to Us might, in many ways, be the first chapter of the second act — and perhaps the best one — for Rascal Flatts.
“We took close to two years to do this whole project,” says Rooney. “I believe in my heart that this process was so much like the first album because … we were together most of the time, if not all of the time.”
Adds LeVox, “This entire record, Back to Us, was like, ‘Who cares about anything? Let’s just go, do what we do, put 110 percent into it,'” LeVox adds. “And if you put good stuff in at the top, great stuff is going to come out the bottom. If “Yours If You Want It” is any kind of debut of what the rest of the record and the tour’s going to look like, we’re in for another great run.
“It’s so weird all those years that went by, because we truly feel like we’re just getting started,” LeVox continues, “and we’ve got an amazing amount of music to make, but we’re really excited about it.”
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