Rascal Flatts Are Enjoying Their Final Year Together With Gratitude — and a Healthy Dose of Sadness
Rascal Flatts have announced that they're calling it quits at the end of 2020, after a blowout year they've scheduled in celebration of their 20th anniversary. While there are lots of reasons for fans to expect that they haven't seen the last of the trio, even after the year ends, there's one strong piece of evidence that the breakup is indeed for good: Rascal Flatts just seem so dang sad about it.
At the 2020 Country Radio Seminar, the three bandmates -- Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus -- appeared on a panel that looked back at their two decades together. They remembered the day that they became members of the Grand Ole Opry, laughed at their early 2000s outfits and watched footage of Keith Urban presenting them with their first-ever CMA trophy, the 2002 Horizon Award.
"I forgot Jennifer Aniston gave us that award. She hasn't changed a bit," deadpanned bassist Jay DeMarcus, cracking a joke at the expense of Urban's then-blonde and shiny hair.
Those familiar with Rascal Flatts know their penchant for ducking serious questions in favor of jokes, which is part of what made their obvious sadness about breaking up so poignant. The trio took a moment during their panel to reassure fans that their decision to part ways had nothing to do with their feelings toward each other. There hasn't been any big falling-out between the bandmates, they explained -- in fact, it's quite the opposite.
"We love each other probably more now than we ever did when we first started," DeMarcus adds. "We just got to this point in the road where we're forking, and entering into new seasons of our lives.
"Just know that we didn't sign a pact to say we're never gonna work together ever again," he continues. "This isn't a ploy to get everybody to come out and see this tour so that we can turn around next year. There are no immediate plans to do any more immediate plans to do any Rascal Flatts shows past Oct. 30.
DeMarcus' bandmates agree, adding that "this was a decision that we didn't reach lightly."
"It was a very tough decision, and it's going to be very sad next year, but we feel like it's the best thing for all three of us at this point in our lives right now," they say. "We still all get along. We didn't arrive here in three separate vehicles, like some bands do."
Though they may have showed up to their CRS date in the same vehicle, the three musicians are open about the fact that they have been taking separate buses out on the road for a long time. However, they say, that's one of the keys to sustaining a healthy long-term working relationship.
Rooney was the first of the three to discover the magic of the private bus, the band recalled, branching off from his two bandmates in 2008. DeMarcus and LeVox rode together for a while, until one trip, when DeMarcus brought his wife and kids out on the road and took out a bus of his own to accommodate them. While the experience was supposed to be temporary, it taught both him and LeVox that Rooney's separate-bus strategy had some merit to it.
"I went to get back on our bus after a couple of weeks and Gary had put all my stuff in trash bags," DeMarcus said, getting a laugh from the crowd in response.
"It was weird, at first, because we'd ridden around as the three of us for several years, and there were a lot of times were were sitting around by ourselves," the band continues. "But it was all for the best, when we started becoming dads, having kids and families."
Rascal Flatts' Best Live Shots
Over the years, the trio's family lives and personal lives have become inextricably intertwined. Their most-cherished personal memories correspond to moments of their career: For example, DeMarcus met his wife, Allison Alderson, while filming the music video for Rascal Flatts' 2002 hit "These Days." Alderson, an actor, was a co-star in the clip.
"I walked in early in the morning and sat down in the makeup chair beside Allison Alderson. And she was incredibly beautiful, and didn't really talk much, but I was taking with her immediately," he recalls. "I didn't know it at the time, but she was engaged, and they had made her take her ring off because she was playing Gary's love interest."
After the shoot, DeMarcus kept running into Alderson around Nashville, and, eventually, they decided to go to lunch. The meal lasted five hours.
"Seventeen years later and two kids later, we're still together, and, I mean, I'm the best thing that ever happened to her," DeMarcus jokes.
Every step of the way, the bandmates were together for the big moments in each other's lives, and though they offered some humor when asked about which was harder, 17 years of marriage or two decades of being in a band, the truth is that Rascal Flatts' partnership has become like a marriage over the years. "We've been in a marriage. You marry one of us, you marry all of us," DeMarcus concedes.
"I'd like to say that Jay is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Because I wouldn't have met Gary, and I wouldn't have had a job when I first moved to Nashville," adds Rooney.
Rascal Flatts have a busy year ahead, with many memories together left to make. However, the three bandmates are already thinking about how emotional the last time they step onstage together is going to be.
"It's gonna be really, really sad. It's gonna be emotional. And this time next year, when there's no tour planned and I can't look over to my right and see my cousin and Joe Don standing next to me, it's gonna be -- this has been the biggest part of my life, my adult life," says DeMarcus. "It's gonna be a really sad thing. That's all I can say."
No one knows what the future holds, and as the trio has said, working together in the future isn't entirely off the table. Still, as sad as they are to say goodbye, the bandmates talk about the end of their tour this year with a real sense of finality. At least for the time being, it seems this really is the end for Rascal Flatts.
"The connection the three of us have together is something that no one else on this planet knows about. It's so powerful. So special," Rooney relates. "It started from just an innocent way, the way it's supposed to, just meeting together and singing at the club one night. The love, the connection, was there immediately, in some ways that, you know, I don't think we'll ever have that with anybody else in our lives.
"There's no other way I could have handpicked two other people in this world to do this with," he continues. "And I love you guys so much. I do."
On the Other Hand, Maybe It's Not Really the End for Rascal Flatts After All. Here's Why:
Test Your Rascal Flatts Knowledge!