|Rascal Flatts (QMI file photo)
When an artist hits platinum status, they've tapped into something.
Yet country act Rascal Flatts is an exception. Every album they've released has hit that prized popularity level.
"In this day and age it just doesn't seem to happen very often when it comes to platinum records," lead vocalist Gary LeVox says on the line from Florida. "We're just thrilled to death (latest album Nothing Like This) went platinum. Our fans have been great and country radio has been wonderful to us. So it's kind of mind-blowing."
The group -- who will headline Saturday evening at the CMT Music Festival in Oro, Ont. -- overcame a big obstacle with their newest record as Lyric Street, their label home for several years, went under. But LeVox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney persevered on a new label called Big Machine Records.
Rascal Flatts also created their own Country-palooza this year with Flatts Fest, a day-long concert with events such as a "Why Wait" wedding chapel (yes, a couple ties the knot) and a karaoke challenge.
"The whole karaoke thing has been incredible," LeVox says. "Every night we do this and the fans pick a winner. At the end of the year we're going to take the winners from every city and they will have a sing-off, kind of like a Flatts Idol. Whoever the winner is we're going to take them into the studio, cut three songs with them and have them open the tour for us next year."
The band also scored a coup when Justin Bieber collaborated with them on That Should Be Mine, which scored points with LeVox's two children.
"It was really cool; he's the biggest pop artist in the world," he says. "Justin's mom is a really big fan of ours so we were flattered. It came out really great. We've done a lot of collaborations and I think it just opens the door and lets people into country music and different genres, it's a win-win for everybody."
The recent tragedies involving stage collapses at Belgium's Pukkelpop and prior to Sugarland performing at the Indiana State Fair has made Rascal Flatts more aware of their surroundings at outdoor shows.
"It's terrible to think if you had been on that stage in Indiana," LeVox says. "We've been there and when there are really high winds you're always thinking about stuff with the speakers swinging. It's just a shame.
"Sometimes it becomes so routine, it's easy to get complacent. It's show time, you walk on stage and do the show night after night. We talked to all of our production guys and said, 'Hey, double check and make sure everything looks the way it should look.' "
While Rascal Flatts has been riding high, LeVox also garnered attention for He's Going Places, a song he wrote a few years ago. The song was recently reworked by Cledus T. Judd and renamed She's Going Places (A Tribute to Caylee Anthony) to honour the two-year-old Florida girl killed in 2008.
"I knew it was really important to Cledus and I was on the original writing of it and they took it to another level," LeVox says. "Cledus said it was really important for him to get all of the attention on where it was needed -- the victim."
For now Rascal Flatts will tour and release another studio album next spring. And if they decide to issue unreleased material, they already have the title.
"We've made jokes before about calling it Rascal Flatts: 10 Songs That Didn't Make the Other Albums Album."