On Rascal Flatts’ new album, the band flexes its musical muscles and shows the secret of its staying power.A decade into its multiplatinum career, country-music outfit Rascal Flatts is right where it wants to be.
“Starting off, people would ask us what our goal was,” says lead singer Gary LeVox. “Even from the beginning, it was to have longevity. There are sprinters and there are long-distance runners; we always wanted to be that long-distance runner.”
So far, so good for LeVox and his Rascal Flatts bandmates, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney. With the release of the band’s seventh album, Nothing Like This (Big Machine, $14), the pursuit of longevity remains. “When you look at all the really wonderful acts that had long careers, like Alabama and Brooks & Dunn, at the end of the day it’s because they continued to make great music. As long as you keep that as the center of what you’re doing, you can continue to have a blessed career.”
Nothing Like This keeps that focus on the music. Recorded with producer and frequent collaborator Dann Huff, the band fashioned the album as a back-to-basics effort. “We wanted to make it more about the songs and our vocals and what our vocal blend is about, just the three of us, and not that big, bombastic sound,” DeMarcus says.
Buoyed by lead single “Why Wait” and another surefire radio smash in “I Won’t Let Go,” the album also finds the Flatts fellows branching out on tracks like “Easy,” where LeVox duets with an unlikely partner, U.K. dance-pop songbird Natasha Bedingfield. “It was something different for us as far as a collaboration, but I think it works,” DeMarcus says. “When you do something for 10 years and you’ve had success in it, it’s easy to be complacent and not push yourself to grow and to change. I think this album was important for us because we were at such a crossroads, and we were able to stretch a little bit.”
Though Rascal Flatts got its start by appealing to young crowds, the group has seen its fan base change and grow over the years. These days, the band’s live audiences run the gamut when it comes to age, background and musical preference. “Now we’ve got generations of people coming,” DeMarcus says. “And that’s always a good thing to see when you want to be in it for the long haul.”