Rascal Flatts is one of the hottest bands in country music. Their live shows are packed with pyrotechnics and lighting effects… and really great tunes. This Saturday, March 12, Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This Presented by JCPenney will bring their big show to the small screen. In a recent exclusive interview lead vocalist Gary LeVox, bass guitarist and keyboard player Jay DeMarcus and lead guitarist Joe Don Rooney talked about how the show came together, artists they like on the country scene and Justin Bieber.
Rooney recounted how the band’s first TV special came about after years of hoping to bring their live show to the small screen. “The past three years, roughly, we’ve been trying to get a network special.” They turned to their friends Robert Deaton and George Flanigen, who produce music videos and oversee the County Music Awards, which also air on ABC.
Rooney explained that Deaton brought the concept to the network, “He pitched the idea to ABC a couple of years ago and they all jumped on board. So finally that’s how it came to be.”
In preparation, the creative team has been filming a lot of coverage of the live shows and backstage action while Rascal Flatts has been on the road. Rooney recalled, “In the past year we’ve been shooting a lot of b-roll footage, a lot of behind the scenes footage, just preparing to get ready for a possible network special date for airing.”
During the special the band will premiere their new video “That Should Be Me” with pop superstar Justin Bieber and sing a duet of “Easy” with blue-eyed soul singer Natasha Bedingfield. They noted that they enjoy crossing over into other genres and collaborating with stars who make all kinds of music. It’s not surprising considering how diverse their influences are. Rooney revealed, “We all three have a ton. What’s amazing though is we all three have similar influences since childhood — from gospel music to straight ahead country music to pop to pop rock. I even like a dab of heavy metal now and then.” DeMarcus jokingly chimed in, “A little dab will do ‘ya.”
But at the heart of the bands music is a love of their chosen genre according to Rooney, “I think we always just try to make the kind of music that makes us proud. The kind of stuff that’s just from our heart. We all moved to Nashville wanting to do country music. We love country music. So it’s our kind of country music the way we perceive it. That’s what you hear from Rascal Flatts.”
And when push comes to shove, the core of great songwriting is the power of the written word. Rooney continued, “We’re all about the lyrics. That’s the most important thing to us period. You cannot deny a really good country lyric when you hear it. It definitely hits you in the heart.”
The band also has an appreciation for up and coming country artists. LeVox talked about a few of their favorites. “We’ve got Chris Young and Luke Bryan on tour with us right now opening up and both of those guys are great. And with both of them it was just weird how it kind of worked out but our single ‘Why Wait’ went number one. And then like two weeks after that, Chris Young, his single went number one. And then Luke Bryan’s went number one right after that. Chris and Luke are really great artists and really have such a passion to have greatness and to have a long future in this business. So both of those guys are real exciting. And we wish them the best in the future. But there’s a lot of great talent in country music coming up right now.”
Rooney added, “I heard a song the other day I think it’s Sunny Sweeney called ‘From a Table Away.’ I thought that was a pretty great song. So that’s a brand new artist I believe. There’s a lot of great new artists out there. Laura Bell Bundy… I think what Darius Rucker is doing is great. He’s not a new artist but he’s new to country music and his music’s great — real honest.”
And, of course, there’s Bieber. Rooney admitted that the one of the highlights of Saturday’s show is the J.B./R.F duet. “There’ll be a world premiere of our video, the duet we did with Justin Bieber. So it’s just gonna be a blast. I can’t wait for it to come. It’s a thrill.”
Rascal Flatts’ exciting ride doesn’t end this weekend. Joe Don rattled off what they have on the agenda. “Well we’ve got the end of the tour, which wraps up this weekend in New Orleans. And then trying to take a little bit of time and regroup. And then we’re gonna go back in and start cutting a new album in April and working on some new music. And we’ve got a little mini-series that we’re gonna be acting in, too, called To Appomattox. And we’re writing the music for that. So we got a lot of stuff going on and we’re really, really excited to kick the tour off again in June. So we got a busy year ahead.”
Catch the boys before they dive into all the action on Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This Presented by JCPenney on Saturday, March 12 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on ABC.
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