View the original article at: http://www.countryweekly.com/vault/10-years-rascal-flatts
In this online-only exclusive, Joe Don looks back at the group’s beginnings, its present and its collective hopes for the future.
“We started at the Fiddle & Steel Guitar Bar in Printer’s Alley in Nashville, and some other clubs on Broadway, back in January 1999. That’s where I met Jay. He introduced me to Gary and we started singing together. Ten years have gone by fast, in the blink of an eye.
“We burned up the road for a lot of years. The first six years, we were doing 150 dates a year. That’s a lot of living out of a suitcase. But we always felt like there was a purpose and a direction. We tried to go with that, to go with the gut, go with the heart and cut the best songs we could find—whether somebody else in town wrote it or we got lucky enough to write a good one.
“We have a lot more control over our schedule now that we’re headliners. We don’t have to do as many shows in a year, which frees us up to spend more time with our families. We can have a little downtime, recharge the batteries and be fresh and ready to go at it. And anytime we go somewhere and do something we have a lot more energy, a little more oomph behind us because we’ve got some hits in the bag now.
“I think [the future] is what we want to make of it. If we want to dig in deeper and work harder, I think we can do some even bigger things. It’s all up to us, and it always has been—it’s just taken us until now to realize that, I think. We have goals set for ourselves. We want to win a Grammy, we want to sell out football stadiums, there are plenty of big things to shoot for. The ultimate goal is to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame and maybe be members of the Grand Ole Opry someday. That would be our long-term goals, for sure.
“We’ve been reflecting a lot in the past few months on it being 10 years and how blessed we’ve been. It’s really cool. In a lot of ways I feel like we’re just getting started.”