‘Changed’ Flatts soars with stars


The country group Rascal Flatts with, from left, Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus, performs Saturday at the O’Connell Center. (AP Photo)

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 1:33 p.m.

Jay DeMarcus is a star who has a star. The bass player for Rascal Flatts, one of the most successful country groups of the last decade, recently attended a celebration in which his group was awarded a star on Hollywood’s famous Walk of Fame.

Facts

Rascal Flatts

What: Country group performs, with opening act Little Big Town
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: O’Connell Center, 2020 W. University Ave.
Tickets: $35-$65
Info: 392-1653

“I was a bit stunned,” DeMarcus says. “There are people who work a long time, most of their lives, and rarely have a chance to do that. I’m very humbled and a little bit shocked. It’s hard to imagine when you start out singing in a club that you’ll one day have a star there.”

DeMarcus and company perform Saturday at the O’Connell Center to support their new album, “Changed,” which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart in April.

“Each project, you’re trying to figure out a way to top what you did last time, so you have to take an even harder look at what you did because the last thing you want to do is be stagnant and be stale,” he says. “It becomes harder because you sort of know what your fans have loved, and you know what you do well, but it’s scary because you know that there are times that you have to reinvent the proverbial wheel and try to keep yourself relevant and fresh.”

After 12 years and eight albums, staying fresh is more than just an obscure concept for Rascal Flatts. One way they have managed to do it, while also crossing over to new fans, is through collaboration with people like Natasha Bedingfield, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Bieber. The work with Bieber also helped the group reach a younger generation of fans.

“We had a ball with him,” DeMarcus says of working with Bieber. “We spent quite a bit of time between making the video and doing the song. He’s just extremely talented, and he’s had a whole bunch happen to him at such a young age, and I think he’s dealt with it quite well.”

The collaboration is particularly interesting as Bieber is still a teen star at the beginning of his career, while DeMarcus and his bandmates are all near 40 years old with wives and families. But, rather than seeing their maturity as a bad thing in an industry obsessed with youth, DeMarcus says that, that has opened new possibilities for the band’s music.

“I think it taps into different parts of your creativity that weren’t necessarily there before,” he says.

And, although they’ve been at it for a while, he says the band still thrives on their relationship with their fans and the music they make together.

“It’s what I live for,” he says. It’s one of the best highs that you could ever imagine. At the end of the day, I think this thing has been so important to all three of us. I can’t remember a time in 12 years that we have gone out on stage pissed off at each other. Whatever disagreements we have, we can resolve them.

“I guess it’s a testament to the fact that we really do love and care about each other.”

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