This is the only music event that allows you to go one-on-one with your fans with meet and greets and signings.
Joe Don Rooney: Its a wonderful opportunity. This is the only thing this town does where you can get as many country music fans in one place at once. And its really great for us too because we get to see a lot of the artists that were friends with that we dont get to see all year long because were all busy and were all on the road. Its a chance to reconnect with some of our friends in the business as well.
The best part is being able to see so many fans at one time. Its just a wonderful event. I think were probably the only genre that does this kind of event where artists are so accessible to the fans. Were very proud to be a part of that.
Jay DeMarcus: Thats what Im most proud about too: that were the only genre that gets to do it. Even people in other genres, when you go to the Grammys and AMAs and that kind of stuff, like Snoop, or someone will go, I think thats the coolest thing, having all your fans there. Yall crazy, but man thats cool. Were really proud to do that.
Did you hear the dance version of What Hurts the Most?
Gary LeVox: Yeah, thats the thing that hurt us the most. [Laughs]. [In London] they thought that we were doing the remake. Theyre like, Youre doing Cascadas song. Were like, "No, no. That was our song first."
Jay DeMarcus: Every time we did an interview over there they were like, "Why did you remake Cascadas song?" And we were like, "Nah-uh. You got that backwards there, pal."
You just launched the American Living tour and have a few stadium dates including Wrigley Field.
Joe Don Rooney: Chicago is going to be fabulous. Brian OConnell with Live Nation brought that to the table a few months back and asked us if wed be interested in doing Wrigley Field. I think we said, "Are you crazy?" Its going to be awesome to go back and play. Weve got Darius Rucker with us and Vince Gill is going to come out with us. I dont know how we talked him into it, but hes going to come out with us, which is great.
Gary LeVox: Its really cool to be able to do Wrigley because were the third act ever to do Wrigley [besides] I think Elton John and U2 maybe.
Joe Don Rooney: I do think Jimmy Buffett was one of the two. Its going to be crazy with all this history with Wrigley Field, which never had to do with music, but were taking music to Wrigley Field, which is really special. Its going to be a great night.
Your fans voted for you in two categories for the CMT Music Awards.
Gary LeVox: Fan-voted award shows are our favorite. I wish all of them would be fan voted. When we go into the studio to make an album, to make music, to go tour, theyre our employers. Thats who we make the music for. Its great they have a voice in it and were honored every time that were up for a fan-voted, fan-nominated award show. Theyre the reason we make music.
From the start, your career has gotten bigger every year. How big can it be? Whats the ultimate show for you to put on?
Jay DeMarcus: I think were going to get so big were going to explode one of these days and have to go right back down to an acoustic. I dont know. It presents its challenges year after year to try and top what youve done and try to be bigger and better than what we were the year before. Actually, what we did this year, is we scaled back a bit. We made it more about the music.
The sets a little more simple and sleek. Its still a great show with a lot of interactive video and lights. But, we made this show and this tour in particular, more about the music and weve tried to cram as much music into 90 minutes as we possibly can. People are going to be very disappointed that I dont get to do a standup routine this year. Were really packing a lot of music in and Im proud of that. Weve taken a step back from the big, bombastic sets weve done in the past.
Does that feel more comfortable?
Jay DeMarcus: Its a change. The last couple tours weve done have been huge and the sets have been gigantic. You get to rely on those things; those technologies and the things that make your show spectacular. Now, the entertainment value is squarely on our shoulders and were proud of that. Its something that we look forward to. Its an interesting challenge to be responsible for all the entertainment.
Youre known for putting together a well-constructed show for your fans. Whats the difference playing a shorter show at a festival like this? Do you work on your set list a different way?
Jay DeMarcus: Its a different stage experience for us because we feel like were just getting started by the time its over. We definitely like to take our crowds on a journey and there is very little time to do that within 25 to 30 minutes. We try to pick some songs, obviously do some of the big ones that people want to hear and do our current singles, which were so thankful for. Its difficult to do all the things that you like to do as an artist within a limited amount of time.
Joe Don Rooney: And were outside. Its the biggest party in Nashville for country music so you dont want to get up there and do a whole bunch of ballads.
Jay DeMarcus: Which is tough for us because thats all we sing. [Laughs]
For more on Rascal Flatts, give their MySpace a listen and if you like what you hear, catch them currently on tour.
Annie Reuter is a freelance writer and music blogger who covers concerts and music festivals around the country. In constant pursuit of the next show to attend and band to interview, Annie keeps up her own music blog, You Sing, I Write, where you can read more on the latest up-and-coming bands.