Rascal Flatts Gaining 'Momentum' Heading Into Vegas Residency, Summer Tour
Sheryl Nields

Fans of million-selling superstars Rascal Flatts might be wondering how their upcoming nine-show residency Rascal Flatts Vegas Riot! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas will be a little different from their normal touring show. At a Nashville press event last week to discuss the shows, the band's Joe Don Rooney said that it all comes down to taking their music and adding a fresh approach to it.

"I think what we've done is taken songs that have been really big hits for us, and musically, we have done something different -- put a new flavor on them," he said. "We have a different band we're working with now, so we are just taking out some of the background singers and are customizing this show just for Vegas. Then, once we get done with our residency there, we'll come back and put together another show for the summer tour. It's just going to be a new take on our older music, along with some of our newer stuff. It's really been a blast putting it together."

Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw & Brad Paisley Headlining iHeartRadio Country Festival

Rooney does promise a memorable experience, saying that the Hard Rock allows them to give the fans a more up-close and personal setting. "The only time I've been there was to see Jeff Beck. It was a phenomenal show. It is something we haven't gotten to do in a while, so we thought that doing nine shows in Vegas was perfect. There's only a certain amount of tickets. It is more intimate. It's a different way to see Flatts. If you've seen us the past eight years, you want see us like you see us in Vegas. I love the fact that the Hard Rock called us to be the first country artist at the joint. That says a lot about what they think about Rascal Flatts and what they think about us in general."

Jay DeMarcus said that coming up with the set list for the shows might very well be the biggest challenge of all. "It's a blessing and a curse to have so many songs that people expect to hear every night. It kind of limits what you can do with your live show. You can only change or switch it up so many ways. When I stop and think about it when we're off the radio, I actually miss playing those songs, because they have been such a huge part of people's lives. It's pretty cool to have to have certain songs that you have to play every night -- that's what we all hope and dream when we stand in front of our mirror with a Goodie comb and sing into it, to have a group of songs that touch people so much that they want to hear them every night. So while it might get old 50 shows in singing 'God Bless the Broken Road,' I'm so happy that we have that song to do it, and I'm so thrilled that people care enough to pay money to hear us sing that every year. I'm very honored and humbled that we've been able to do that in our careers."

And, 15 years into that run, the band remains focused on being as relevant as ever before. After a few years away from the nominees list, Rascal Flatts found themselves waking up to good news on the morning of Jan. 30, as they were nominated for vocal group of the year from the Academy of Country Music. Lead singer Gary LeVox said that was very rewarding.

"It meant the absolute world to us," he said. "It felt so good to be nominated again -- not that we went anywhere, but you miss what you don't have. We were so humbled and honored. We were just filled with joy. When you get nominated so much, and if you start winning them, it's easy to get used to. We are on cloud nine."

After admitting that they had come to a creative fork in the road a few years ago, Rooney feels the band has caught a little bit of lightning in a bottle over the past few years, from signing with Big Machine, being named as members of the Grand Ole Opry and now Vegas. "I think there is a newness to Rascal Flatts right now. I think it's part of this evolution. I think any time you have a lengthy career, you've got to reinvent yourself -- that might be a strong word, but you have to evolve, change and keep it fresh. A few years back, we looked at each other and thought we might be finished. We made some really tough decisions, and here we are another four or five years down the road, and it feels like we've got a little bit of momentum right now -- maybe more so in certain ways than we've ever done before. Probably because we've all grown in certain ways as husbands, fathers, bandmates, friends, brothers. I think it's got us to this place we are prepared for the next step of where the next journey is going to take us. We're ready for it, and Vegas is the next step."

LeVox agrees with those sentiments, saying, "It's a definite new season. We're rejuvenated. This past fall, we had as much time off as we've had in our career -- about two and a half months. For me, my batteries are full, charged and ready to go."

Rascal Flatts Vegas Riot! Dates:

Wednesday, Feb. 25
Friday, Feb. 27
Saturday, Feb. 28
Wednesday, March 4
Friday, March 6
Saturday, March 7
Wednesday, March 11
Friday, March 13
Saturday, March 14

Tickets start at $39.50 (plus service fees) and can be purchased at the Hard Rock Hotel Box Office, online at AXS.com or by calling (888) 9-AXS-TIX.