Rascal Flatts is rebooting, and part of its re-energized harmony is the first broadcast-television special it's headlined.
Widely popular for such hits as "Bless the Broken Road," "These Days," and the current "Why Wait" and "I Won't Let Go," the award-winning country music trio recently changed record labels and parted with its longtime managers. The band's new career phase is highlighted Saturday, March 12, on ABC, as the hourlong "Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This" showcases a January concert performance in St. Paul, Minn.
"We've been trying to get something like this together for a long time," lead singer Gary LeVox says, "and now that we finally did, we're really excited about it. It took two days to shoot, so that we could stop and start between songs for lighting situations." The first day of filming involved a relatively minimal audience of 1,000, but the second was a typical Rascal Flatts show in a packed arena.
"A concert situation for television is difficult," LeVox says, "because you've got all your fans out there, and you're trying to give them a good time. When you're filming a TV show at the same time, you're not thinking about where a commercial is going to go in your set."
Regardless, Rascal Flatts' members -- the others being Jay DeMarcus, a second cousin of LeVox, and Joe Don Rooney -- are confident their followers would roll with such breaks in a show if needed.
"Our fans are just the best," LeVox says. "They'd probably love it, because they'd want to talk: 'Hey, why didn't you guys do "My Wish"?' 'Hey, I have some fan club ideas for you!' "
Natasha Bedingfield also turns up in the show to perform with the group on "Easy," from the latest Rascal Flatts album, "Nothing Like This" ... which debuted on Billboard magazine's country album chart in November at No. 1, the band's sixth consecutive album to do so. The trio also teamed recently with teen superstar Justin Bieber on the song "That Should Be Me," indicating its willingness to make fresh moves now.
"We've been born again at year 10," LeVox says. "We're so excited about the future. This management change, this label change (from the Disney-owned, now-defunct Lyric Street Records to Big Machine Records) and all of it is for the better. This is a path that was laid out for us, and we'll see what's at the end of the rainbow."
Having such faith suits Rascal Flatts. Its road to stardom has been serendipitous from the time it began in Columbus, Ohio, the hometown of both LeVox and DeMarcus.
"There's no question about that," LeVox says. "When Jay and I first sang with Joe Don, we all knew that what we had and what our future held was preordained. It was just a matter of holding on and seeing where it went, but God gets all the credit for this. He uses us as a tool, and we're grateful for it."
If there is a milestone in the Rascal Flatts catalog, it's "Bless the Broken Road," which spent five weeks at the top of Billboard's country singles chart in 2005.
"People are still trying to get married to it at our show every night," a bemused LeVox says. "We have to tell them, 'Well, we're trying to do an entire show.'
"In a career like this, the first thing you want is to hear yourself on the radio, then you want to sell records, and you want fans. And in the end, what you want to do is create music that outlives you. You want to create masterpieces, and we were part of lending a voice to one with 'Bless the Broken Road.' To think that had been lying around and was cut three times before we did it, it's just an amazing story. Again, that's where faith comes in."
Having received numerous honors from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association over the past decade, including many for vocal group of the year, Rascal Flatts embraces such recognition.
"It's awesome when your peers really appreciate what you do," LeVox says. "Our fans employ all of us, and to stand up there at an awards show and see all those faces from (Nashville's) Music Row giving you a standing ovation, it's very humbling."
Also slated to make an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday, March 10, Rascal Flatts is glad to still be enjoying such a level of country music success at a time when the genre is composed of so many styles and personalities.
"There will forever be only one George Strait, one George Jones, one Merle Haggard and one Conway Twitty," LeVox reasons. "If everybody came out and tried to sound like that, you could never emulate them. If 50 new artists tried to sing just like a Ronnie Milsap or a Keith Whitley, it wouldn't be very exciting ... and they couldn't do it anyway."I mean, who ever thought you'd hear Bon Jovi on country radio? Country music gets it, and that's why every rock and pop artist is trying to get a song on country radio. I think it's flattering, but country is what we've always done and what we will always do."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun