For the members of Rascal Flatts, new single “Back to Life” doesn’t just contain a winning formula for a hit; the midtempo ballad is also a sweet testament to the women in their lives.
Lead singer Gary LeVox says the Big Machine Records trio was initially drawn to the song — written by Cary Barlowe, Niko Moon, Dan + Shay’s Shay Mooney and Fred Wilhelm — because of a melody he calls “so infectious” that’s also reminiscent of some of the band’s previous hits. “We’ve had such great success with those 6/8 waltzes in the past,” he says, such as “Easy” and “Come Wake Me Up.” Additionally, “We thought that melody on the B section going into the chorus was so different, and we just really, really loved it and thought it would be a great song for the end of the summer.”
The track went to country radio Friday (Sept. 28). Billboard premieres the lyric video below:
The lyrics also resonated with LeVox and bandmates Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, all happily married. With lines like “Taking my hand, pulling me up when I’m going under” and “I don’t want to think about where I would be without her,” LeVox says, “That’s how we look at our wives, as just being the anchors, and our moms. They’re the ones that keep us from going under half the time.”
Adds DeMarcus, who produced the single along with his bandmates, “It’s a pretty empowering song for women to let them know how much power they really have when it comes to being a support system for their husbands, and how much life they can bring to us whenever we’re going through dark times.”
After 10 albums, Rascal Flatts are trying out a new, singles-based business model, which means that while “Back to Life” is a brand-new song, it’s not necessarily the lead single from a forthcoming album.
“I don’t know about a full album,” explains Rooney. “We’re kind of going single-by-song.” With about five new tracks in various stages of completeness, the bandmembers say they’ll likely release them one at a time.
“We’re kind of at a place now where we’re fighting our old catalog, and there’s a lot of music out there that’s Rascal Flatts already,” Rooney continues. So a singles-based model “might be the new paradigm for Flatts for some time in the future. I don’t know how far that will be, but for now that’s kind of how we’re thinking.”
Adds DeMarcus, “It seems like the new business model [now]. So we’re picking some songs that we love, cutting them and, like Joe Don just said, putting them out as we go, trying to still give our fans a lot of content.”
LeVox says that breaking free of the traditional single/album/tour cycle almost 20 years into their career is “a huge breath of fresh air, and it also helps the song process.” Focusing on just one track at a time, he says, aids the band in honing in on making sure each release is “spectacular” without the added pressure of “trying to put 11 singles on a record [like] we’ve always tried to do. … This really gives us time to breathe, time to focus, time to write, time to really just concentrate on the song that we’re going to put out.”
For the band that has sold 10 million tickets, charted more than 50 singles on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and won more than 40 awards, the key to longevity has always been “songs, and how they impact the fans,” says DeMarcus. “It all boils down to a song that resonates and hits people right where they live. As long as you do that, you will have better chances of being around a long time. … Music is powerful in that it can be a support system to every phase of life.”
With the release of “Back to Life,” the band is continuing its quest to provide what DeMarcus calls the “soundtrack” to its fans’ lives. For now, however, those songs will be coming one at a time.