After 20 years together, Rascal Flatts announced in January that they would be stepping out of the spotlight after a farewell tour (now canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic) and a year of celebrating their two decades as a band.

It wasn't a decision they took lightly, Flatts member Jay DeMarcus says, opening up about how they came to their decision.

In the fall of 2019, DeMarcus and bandmates Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney sat around a table at their management office, DeMarcus recalls. They knew their record deal with Big Machine Label Group was coming up for renewal, as was a touring deal with Live Nation.

"The more we got into it, the more we started to look at each other and go, 'This has been a wonderful 20 years,'" he recounts. "'Why don't we, at this point in our career, take some time to ... celebrate with our friends and our family next year, really blow it out, and then take some time to lay this down for a while to pursue some of our individual desires and some of the things we want to do before we're too old to do it.'"

98.1 Minnesota's New Country logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Since their debut in 2000s, Rascal Flatts have helped shape country music's new millennium sound with their three-part harmonies and pop-leaning melodies. Chart hits, Platinum-selling albums and a number of awards wins and nominations place them among the genre's most successful bands.

"Twenty years in a band together is a long, long time, and I love the fact that we're able to look back and say we still love and respect each other after 20 years," DeMarcus says. "A lot of bands can't say that."

All three Rascal Flatts members have solo work their want to pursue after their year-long celebration, in its altered state, is through. And, DeMarcus admits, they're really not looking at this as a final and permanent goodbye.

"I don't think we'll ever be one of those bands that goes, 'That's it. We're breaking up. You'll never see us again,'" he shares. "I think it was in an effort for us to go, 'You know what, it's been a great 20-year run ... Let's give ourselves some breathing room and some time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and do some other things we're passionate about.'"

On Friday (Oct. 2), Rascal Flatts will release a greatest hits album as part of their farewell celebration. The record features 13 of their No. 1 songs and seven other fan favorites.

What's the Best Country Song of the 2000s? Here Are Our Faves:

More From 98.1 Minnesota's New Country