Much to the chagrin of country fans, hit making trio Rascal Flatts had planned to step away from the limelight in 2020, revealing plans last winter for a big 20th anniversary celebration and farewell tour that would mark their final shows. But then COVID-19 intervened, and the band has had to scramble.
Like every other artist in the music industry, their farewell tour is now indefinitely on hold, and the band say they’re not even positive it will ever happen at all. But despite the potential that fans may miss their last dose of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, there’s still a small silver lining.
Earlier this month the trio unveiled a brand-new single, fittingly titled “How They Remember You,” and in a video-chat conference with reporters Monday (June 22), they revealed some more big news.
Featuring a pure-Flatts sound built on thick vocal textures and stadium-sized layers of guitar, bass and piano, the uplifting track is a stirring reminder to strive for your best — because ultimately, that effort is what you’ll leave behind. It’s a classic theme for a trio long steeped in faith and positivity, and it finds them boldly staring the future in the eye. … Not just their own future, though. The guys say it’s the perfect song for the times.
“We felt the message was perfect, the timing was perfect in this crazy madness,” said LeVox. “It really [points to] the question ‘With over 100,000 people dying from the coronavirus, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?’”
During the conference, the band revealed the song is actually part of a seven-track EP also titled How They Remember You, due out July 31 and offering fans a bit of a sonic consolation prize. Co-produced by the guys themselves to help keep the 20th anniversary celebration going, Flatts says the project is a hodgepodge of sorts, pieced together after they realized their plans were changing.
“It’s been a real work in progress and some of these songs have been around now for several years,” Rooney admits, noting they went back and spruced up several of the tracks to find a balance between country’s modern sound and the classic Flatts approach. “When we got the call from Scott Borchetta from Big Machine [Label Group], he said ‘Hey, you guys have this list of songs that are on the back burner, and some of them are almost finished.’ … We compiled seven of them, and it took a little while to get all the finalization done, but some of them really do harken back to the good old days of Rascal Flatts.”
Along with single, the EP also features an attention-grabbing collaboration with newcomer Rachel Wammack (“Quick Fast In a Hurry”), a blast of new school Music Row R&B on “Warmer” and tender cover of Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years,” among others. The songs were co-written by big name hit makers like Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Josh Osborne, Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley, and it’s all wrapped in some of the band’s richest vocal harmonies to date.
That’s good news for their loyal supporters, but small consolation for a trio who have been planning their farewell for months, if not years. 2020 was supposed to be one last go ’round before they rode off into the sunset, and now it feels like they’re just leaving behind unfinished business.
“No one saw this coming, and we were all thrown for a loop,” DeMarcus admitted. “Quite frankly 2020 has really sucked.”
“Going into this year we were gearing up for an emotional year for sure,” Rooney explained. “Every show was gonna matter so much more, and wow. Just to have your legs cut completely out from under you with all your plans, this has definitely changed that mix of emotions we thought we’d be feeling. Because it’s also a celebration of 20 years, which is an incredible milestone … We had so much we were looking forward to with this whole year, and this has just completely wiped that out.”
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Flattheads, after a lot of difficult conversations that we never thought we would be having, we have decided that in the interest of the safety of everyone involved we will not be moving forward with our Farewell Tour. Refund information is available at livenation.com/refund. 2020 is still an important year for us as a band and a milestone we want to celebrate with our fans, so please stay tuned for some fun surprises coming your way soon! We love you and can’t thank you enough for being on this journey with us! Thank you for understanding. Stay safe, Rascal Flatts.
“There’s definitely anger, but you can’t hold on to it,” LeVox added. “We should have already been almost a month in [to the tour] at this point, and this is what we’ve done every year for the last two decades, so it’s been weird.”
With the EP ready for release, the band is now back in wait-and-see mode — and focused on keeping busy however they can. Rooney says he’s been writing songs diligently, LeVox is working on a solo Christian album which will soon be announced, and DeMarcus is working with his newly launched Christian record label’s first artist, Jason Crabb.
But they’re also enjoying some time with their families that came a little earlier than expected, and thinking about what comes next. Only time will tell if they’re able to give fans that last go-round they promised. And if they can’t, they’ll still be proud of a career that has included 17 Number One hits and 11 million concert tickets sold … and they hope fans are, too.
“We’re taking it day-by-day and it’s a moving target,” DeMarcus said of their uncertain future. “There’s not really a timeline for when venues are gonna open back up and what the social distancing measures are gonna be. We don’t want to leave people hanging and just go away – we certainly want to celebrate with them – but as to when and how that’s gonna happen, we simply don’t know yet.”
“I hope when we do lay it down, the fans remember us for staying true to ourselves,” Rooney added. “And [for] making music that’ll live out way longer than what we could ever tour for.”
How They Remember You EP Track List:
- “How They Remember You” | Marc Beeson, Josh Osborne, Allen Shamblin
- “Feel It In The Morning” | Zach Beeken, Jared Keim, Jenn Schott, Will Weatherly
- “Quick, Fast, In A Hurry” (featuring Rachel Wammack)| Kelly Archer, AJ Babcock, Pete Good, Brandon Ratcliff
- “Looking Back” | Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett
- “Warmer” | Fancy Hagood, David Hodges, Brett McLaughlin
- “Sip Away” | Zach Beeken, Jacob Durrett, Jared Keim, Garrett Nichols, Jason Sellers
- “Through The Years” | Steve Dorff, Marty Panzer