’94, so I love Nirvana and Metallica and
groups like that, too. I love all kinds of music.
We’ve always just tried to sing the songs
the way we felt like we should. Gary just
opens his mouth and he sings how he sings:
He’s got a little bit of pop-tunes sensibility,
but he also has that country slant from his raising. Jay and I are the same way. I think we’ve
just tried to be true to that and to our roots.
In terms of the crossover thing … we’ve
had a couple of songs get some pop air. “What
Hurts the Most” was a big pop air song. But
that kind of stuff you just can’t figure out or
plan for. Those things grow legs of their own.
CC : As a band, you’re hitting the seven-year
itch. How are you different now compared to
when you first started playing together?
Rascal Flatts brings a little
country into the mainstream
JDR: I think we’ve come to a place where
we know who Rascal Flatts is. And I think
now we finally can really start stretching our
wings out a little bit further and take some
chances, where maybe we couldn’t in the
past. I think that’s a really, really cool thing,
and I think you’ll hear that on the Still Feels
CC : You guys still like to travel, perform live?
Is it still a thrill?
By Tim Talevich
JDR: Yeah, that’s how we got the song Gary
wrote that became the title track. It does still
feel good after all these years, all this relentless touring. I don’t know how many times
these wheels and tires on these buses have
turned, but it’s pretty remarkable.
POP MUSIC FANS typically don’t pay much attention to country music. But that’s
not the case with Rascal Flatts, a country band that’s finding a lot of fans across
the board. With a sound that blends fiddles and mandolins with pop arrangements,
backed with catchy and sometimes soulful lyrics, the Nashville-based band has
sold more than 14 million albums since their debut in 1999. Gary LeVox, his cousin
Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney have rolled out a series of award-winning
hits, including “What Hurts the Most,” “My Wish” and “Life Is a Highway” (written
by the late country legend Chris LeDoux), recorded for the hit movie C ars. The
Connection caught up with lead guitarist Rooney while the band
was on tour for their new album, Still Feels Good.
CC: What’s next for Rascal Flatts?
The Costco Connection: Tell us about
the new release. How does it compare to
your past works?
Joe Don Rooney: I feel like we’ve put a
lot more time and energy into this project.
There’s always pressure in this business, but
we put pressure on ourselves to try to better
ourselves with each project. With this one, I
think we just felt like we had a lot to prove
because we’ve had success, obviously. But
now it’s like “OK, are these guys going to be a
mainstay, going to try to be here a lot longer, or
are they done?”
A lot of artists get to this place where it’s
real easy to get complacent and feel like you
can relax a bit and just chill, but luckily we’re
not cut from that mold. We’re more of the
school of “just keeping
working hard, keep trying to get better.” You
always got a little better
CC : Mention Rascal Flatts
and many people think
country, with their toes dipped
in pop music.” How did this
nice mix come about?
JDR: We feel like in a way we’re just getting
started. In this business, to get to
a successful place, there are a
lot of hills to climb. Early on,
there are a lot of shows you
gotta do, you’re touring 200-
plus shows a year, 200-plus
days a year, and it takes
a lot to get to a place like
this. Now we have some
long-term goals. We wanna
leave behind a legacy,
much like Alabama left.
We wanna be inducted
into the Country Music
Hall of Fame one day.
We wanna get some accolades we
haven’t gotten yet. It’s really fun, where
we’re at now. It’s like “game on, man!”
We’re looking forward to the future. C
JDR: We were definitely raised on country
music, all three of us. But we were also raised
as ’80s children—we love rock and roll, we
love the kind of pop music [produced] in the
’80s and ’90s. I graduated from high school in
The Costco Connection
Rascal Flatts’ latest release, Still Feels Good,
is available at all Costco warehouses.