CMA officially announced “CMA Fest,” The Music Event of Summer, will air Wednesday, August 16 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on the ABC television network. Thomas Rhett and
Rascal Flatts is undoubtably one of country music's biggest groups. Their success spans decades with hits like “What Hurts the Most,” “Bless the Broken Road,” “Here Comes Goodbye,” and “My Wish.” Their newest single “Yours If You Want It” is sure to join the band's roster of hits. With a new album release coming out May 19, band members Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney continue to build their catalog and their legacy.
Nashville Lifestyles (NL): Can you talk about the process of creating your tenth studio album Back to Us?
Joe Don: We went in three different times to record for this album, probably starting early last year looking for and writing songs. We were trying to find a first single, recorded two songs and they both made the album, but we didn’t have the single yet. At the end of last year we went back in and recored five or six more songs. “Yours if You Want It” was part of that collection. It reared its head up and said, “Hey, I should be the first single!” It really turned out great.
We did feel comfortable enough with that one to lead this album, but we still weren’t done with the project yet, so we went in at the end of January and recorded five more songs. Those all turned out really great and rounded out the album perfectly. One of those was called “Back to Us” and we thought that was the perfect title for this album, because after seventeen years of doing this and nine albums prior to this one, we need to get back to what brought us here. “Back to Us” exemplifies that in every way.
NL: Tell us a little bit more about what fans will hear on this record.
Jay: There are a few things that make this record feel like it’s an old friend. We’ve got a duet in there with Lauren Alaina that is a throwback to some of the songs that brought us to the dance and made us who we are. There's the types of songs we pick, like the big ballad, “I Know You Won’t,” and then elements of the way we mix our records with the vocals really up, present and in your face on the track.
NL: So, how did the collaboration with Lauren Alaina come about?
Jay: When you start talking about people that can go toe to toe with Gary as far as vocal chops-wise, that list gets pretty short, and she is certainly at the top of it.
We reached out to Lauren, sent her the song and she loved it and came over and sang the crap out of it! She spent a couple of hours in the studio with me, and she was a delight to work with. She was really thrilled to do it. They blend so well together. We were thrilled she wanted to be a part of it.
NL: Do you have a favorite memory or story from creating your 10th album?
Joe Don: When we were doing strings on “I Know You Won’t” we were tracking just off Music Row. The strings were so beautiful, and the energy near the end of the song was so amazing and powerful. Musically, it was like heaven. I noticed Jay tearing up, and I felt myself tearing up. We felt that same magic at the same time. That’s why we do this. We were reminded again of just how special this thing is and how wonderful it is to be a part of it. We hope that the fans and anyone who is new and not familiar with us yet will feel that same thing that we felt. It’s really special.
Gary: We have got such great up tempo songs. It’s tough to find great up tempo songs that have real, true meaning—that aren’t about drinking and tailgating. We have got the full gamut; we have mid tempo songs, stuff that is great and different than what we have done before. There’s a lot of clever lyrics on this record—we couldn’t be more proud.
NL: Looking back on your careers, what do you wish someone had told you early on?
Jay: Take moments for yourself to slow down and enjoy the ride. You can move at such a lightning, break-neck speed that you don’t get time to soak it up and enjoy it. It would be nice to go back ten or twelve years ago and tell your younger self that this goes by in a blink. You need to soak it up and enjoy it because it doesn’t last forever.