For the country trio Rascal Flatts, the past two years have been filled with seemingly endless changes, a metamorphosis of sorts for the Grammy- and CMA-winning trio of Joe Don Rooney, Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus. A new album, aptly titled “Changed,” finds them at their most introspective to date; a new label has given them a fresh start and new perspective on making music. And Rooney says their personal lives have never been more fulfilling and blessed (DeMarcus and his wife, Allison, just welcomed their second child on July 20).

Rooney talked to the Sun-Times recently about this new phase for Rascal Flatts.

Question: “Changed” seems to be the most intimate album that you guys have released to date.

Joe Don Rooney: We kinda joke that it’s taken us seven studio albums over 12 years to make this album. We used every experience we’ve had on the road, all the people we’ve met and worked with. We homed in our strengths in studio recording and we poured our souls into the songwriting. This album just found us in a place where it was just time to cut this album. Everything that Rascal Flatts is about is reflected on this album. Even if you’ve never heard of us, you’ll know exactly what we’re about after you listen to it.

Q. Sounds like this album was almost a catharsis for the three of you.

JDR: Our guard was down. I think spiritually and mentally and physically we were all just prepared for this project.

Q. Speaking of spiritually, you recently told a radio interviewer that you felt Christianity was under attack in this country. What prompted you to say that?

JDR: He asked us about our beliefs, and why we haven’t been more open about them. I think we have been very open if people read our liner notes. We always thank God and the Lord Savior Jesus Christ. We have professed our faith publicly a whole bunch. The reason I said what I did is that I feel like we’re losing the fabric of what made America America a little bit. It’s slipping through our hands a little when it comes to the Christianity on which our forefathers founded this country — putting God first. So Gary, Jay and I, we know who we are and what our faith means to us and our fans. A majority of them and our contemporaries in the business are Christians and we’re just not afraid to share that publicly anymore. I grew up saying prayer in school and the Pledge of Allegiance with the word God in it. … The way I was raised wasn’t staunchly religious but we went to church. It was nice to put your hand over your heart and pledge your belief in God and country.

Continue Reading on www.suntimes.com