measure, Rascal Flatts has entered elite territory. Five years into a career
marked by superlatives, they have become country music's premiere young
headliners. Hits like These Days, I'm Movin' On, I Melt and Mayberry have
taken them repeatedly to the top of the charts. They have sold four-million
records, with their second CD, Melt, charging to platinum in less than a
month. They have pulled in a host of awards and accolades, and are the
reigning CMA, ACM, CMT and ASCAP Vocal Group of the Year. They have played
for the President and First Lady, become national spokesmen for the American
Red Cross, and hosted a farewell tribute to the legendary group
to whom they continue to draw comparisons.
It is sometimes difficult to
remember that they have accomplished all this with just two album's worth of
material. Now, with the release of their third, Feels Like Today, they are
poised to take their extraordinary careers to yet another level.
Today finds Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney taking their
trademark vocals and soaring harmonies into new territory, with songs that
reflect a maturity in both style and outlook befitting the five years of
life-changing success they've put behind them.
songwriters are the best in the world," says Jay, "and they've stepped up to
the plate with some unbelievable material for us. We've taken advantage of
that this time around, and I think people will be surprised at the way we've
stretched. We're older now, singing about some different things and tackling
some heavier subject matter."
collection, Feels Like Today explores love and loss, nostalgia and regret,
fulfilled promise and lost chances. The title track and first single deals
with the moments that turn into life's breakthroughs. "We've been living
with that song (Feels Like Today) for over two years," says Joe Don. "It's
got a different feel and a different message, a way of presenting today as
the day to get over that struggle in your life. It's a positive spiritual
song, and being passionate about music and spirituality, we always tend to
gravitate toward songs like that. It's one of those that hit us right
between the eyes."
helped spur the group into some of its best studio work yet. "As soon as
Gary put his vocal on it," adds Joe Don, "it just soared." The trio
co-produced the project with Mark Bright and Marty Williams, with whom
they've worked on all three albums.
there was no need to fix something that wasn't broken," laughs Jay. The trio
again took hands-on roles in adding instrumental as well as vocal tracks,
and all five pushed each other throughout the recording process.
It's a work
ethic that has infused every aspect of Rascal Flatts' career and has paid
off in every direction. On the road, relentless touring has made them among
the genre's best showmen, and has given them the enviable position of
bouncing back and forth between headlining tours--like this fall's 28-city
Here's To You extravaganza--and dates with the likes of Kenny Chesney.
the guys wrote four songs for the album. Bless The Broken Road is a song we
heard a couple of years ago. It's probably our favorite ballad on the
record. Not just a song, we call it a piece (master)," says Gary. Then I Did
is another great Jeffrey Steele tune. He is such an amazing writer. We
thought it sounded like a These Days Part 2. We were pleasantly surprised
how great the track turned out," says Jay. Fast Cars is a cool way to tell
your woman that she still looks as good as she did when you first met and
she doesn't need make up," says Gary. "She is still as beautiful and you
love her as much as you did the first day."
Joe Don wrote
a tune about his home state titled Oklahoma-Texas Line. He tells, "the three
of us started this song after a show one night on the road. We started with
a melody that we thought was hooky. We are all big fans of the Tasty
Freeze's across the world…and falling in love."
the group since its inception have been personal as well as professional.
Since their last release, Jay has gotten married,
has had his second child, and Joe Don has moved into his new Nashville-area
home. The three carved out a little time at home during the brief break they
took to record Feels Like Today, but since then, they have gone straight
back to the road reality that has been their admittedly welcome lot in life
for half a decade.
vowed never to be gone longer than 14 days," says Gary, "and I think we've
got it down to 12 now, even on some of the West Coast runs. It's something
our families all know how to deal with, and it's at the core of what we do."
they have done extraordinarily well since joining forces years after their
boyhood dreams of musical success first began taking shape.
For Gary and Jay, it began in Columbus,
Ohio, where the second cousins
learned to love music during frequent family jam sessions. Jay took his
voice and instrumental skills (he plays guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin,
and others) to Nashville in 1992, earning his first record deal as part of a
Christian group called East to West. In 1997, he finally convinced a
reluctant Gary to leave behind his job with the Ohio Department of Mental
Retardation and follow his musical dreams as well.
writing together," says Jay. "We caught up on lost time and sang every
chance we got. We just hit it hard. We'd stay up endless nights writing
music and playing together."
Jay met Joe
Don when both landed jobs in Chely Wright's band. Joe Don had grown up in
tiny Picher, Oklahoma, gleaning influences from his brothers and sisters,
whose tastes ran the gamut of musical styles. As he and Jay worked in
Wright's band, Jay and Gary were working in a Printer's Alley club with a
part-time guitarist. When he couldn't make it one night, Jay invited Joe Don
to sit in. A few bars into the first song they sang, they knew they had
something special. They recorded some demos, which caught the favorable
attention of Lyric Street Senior VP of A&R Doug Howard.
first album out, they hit the road hard, gaining thousands of new fans and
opening for the likes of Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina, and Toby Keith. Their
star rose dramatically from the outset and reached dizzying heights with the
release of I'm Movin' On, a phenomenon that still leaves band members
shaking their heads.
I'm Movin' On
became bigger than us," says Jay. "It's one of those songs with such a
powerful message it can move anybody in any phase of life. If you're 12 and
lose a parent, 35 and going through a divorce, or 70 and losing somebody to
cancer, you've got to face moving on. It's a universal song that really did
more than we expected. It's turned our lives upside-down. We're still
catching up to it."
kept coming. They played the Grand Ole Opry, appeared on the soundtrack of
We Were Soldiers, and recorded Walk The Llama Llama, a song penned by Sting
for The Emperor's New Groove soundtrack. Along the way, they were the
subjects of two one-hour live television concerts and were voted the ACM's
2001 New Vocal Group of the Year.
The hit songs
and relentless work ethic drove them inexorably toward platinum status and a
host of awards and milestones. Their debut CD was one of only three
million-selling debuts in half a decade, and it spawned four top-ten
singles. They toured with Brooks & Dunn, then headlined their own CMT "Most
Wanted Live Tour." They received the 2002 CMA Horizon Award, the ACM's Song
of the Year award for I'm Movin' On, and the CMT Flameworthy Favorite Group
or Duo Award for the These Days video.
all, they have seen a great deal change in
often for the better. "Some of the people we used to bring on stage during
our early club gigs, like Billy Currington, are out there getting hits of
their own now, and it's great to see," says
Gary. They remain delighted
for their friends, and amazed and grateful at their own continuing success,
which they see as a prod to further excellence.
"I try to
remember that it can be gone in the blink of an eye, and we never want to
become complacent," says Jay. "We keep pushing each other to get better than
we were the day before."
The result has
been a relentless drive for self-improvement applied to the best songs they
"Each of the
songs on this album, like each of the singles we've released, has got a
different thumbprint," says Joe Don. "They've each been a little different
from the next one. It's been a great rule to live by, and I think it's why
we're still here."
The task at
hand, adds Gary, is its own reward. "We're going to continue to try to cut
songs that move people. We're having the time of our lives and that's what
will enable us to keep the ball rolling."
Return to Top
Top New Duo or Group at
2001 ACM Awards
2002 Country Music
Association "Horizon Award" winner
2003 Country Music
Association Vocal Group of the Year
2004 ACM "Group of the
2004 Vocal Group of the
Year at the Radio Music Awards - nominee (Oct. 25 NBC)
2004 Vocal Group of the
Year American Music Awards - nominee (Nov. 14 ABC)
2004 Country Music
Association "Vocal Group of the Year"
2004 Academy of Country
Music "Top Vocal Group"