After scoring their first Number One in two years when “Rewind” hit the top spot on the Mediabase chart in June, Rascal Flatts’ return to chart dominance stumbled a bit with the follow-up “Payback,” an oddly aggressive track with a rock beat that stalled just shy of the Top 20. With new single “Riot,” however, the trio of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney are on more solid ground. A soaring mid-tempo ballad written by Jaren Boyer and Sara Haze, the love song is right in the CMA Award-winning vocal group’s sweet spot.
“‘Riot’ is one of the songs that we felt strongest about from the first day on the record. We’re thrilled that that one is going to have a chance to see the light of day. Once people hear it, they’ll figure out what an incredibly crafted song it is. Sara Haze and Jaren Boyer did a fantastic job crafting that piece of music,” DeMarcus tells Rolling Stone Country.
The already high-registered LeVox reaches for even loftier altitudes to sing the hook: “There would be a riot if I ever lost you.”
“The vocal was a fluke,” LeVox says with a laugh. “But it worked on that song and it’s a really fun song to sing. It claims and declares so much passion. It was a day where I got in the mode, in the story, and I was thrilled to be able to sing it.”
But LeVox’s vocal acrobatics can often make it more difficult on his comrades. DeMarcus, who took a key role in producing Rewind, says he and Rooney must tailor their harmonies to whatever LeVox decides to sing.
“Luckily, Jay has an oxygen tank in the house,” quips Rooney.
“And there’s helium in the studio,” LeVox deadpans. “It’s on the rider.”
In the end though, DeMarcus is the one with the ace in the hole.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have the luxury of recording Gary’s vocals, so after he sings multiple takes, I pick the ones that are best suited for us to sing,” he admits with a grin. “I sit there and go, ‘I don’t think we can sing to that — let’s find another take.'”
Rascal Flatts recently announced a Las Vegas residency at the Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel. The series of nine shows make the band the first country act to set up shop inside the Hard Rock’s club, where Kiss and Def Leppard have already performed successful residencies.