The country music star and his family gave producers "free rein" in their Nashville home for DeMarcus Family Rules

By Topher Gauk-Roger
August 19, 2020 07:21 PM
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The DeMarcus Family is ready to let fans into their home for an inside look at their lives like never before.

Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus and wife Allison are gearing up for the premiere of their new Netflix reality series, DeMarcus Family Rules, and admit to PEOPLE they had reservations about making their lives so public.

"We were trepidatious about it at first and it's no small undertaking to have cameras around all the time. I probably needed a little more convincing than Alison did since she always wants to steal all the camera time anyway," Jay jokes.

"He's so full of it! I think we went through phases at different times where Jay felt better about it than I did, and then I felt better about it than he did," says Allison. "Fortunately it was always a different time, so we never completely tapped out."

Jay and Allison DeMarcus attend the 2018 CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on June 6, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

It took a dinner with friend and neighbor Todd Chrisley, who executive-produced the show, to convince them to do it.

"He said, 'You guys are so funny together and your kids are so fun and unpredictable, and you've got a crazy bunch over there, and I think people would enjoy having a glimpse behind the scenes of what it's like for you being off the road,'" says Jay.

"We were concerned at times, but you know, watching the Chrisleys handle themselves with such grace through all that they've been through and knowing them and knowing that Todd would be an executive producer on it had a huge bearing on our participation," added Allison.

The couple, who have been married since 2004, let the cameras into their Nashville home to show their chaotic life with kids, Madeline, 9, and Dylan, 8. Nothing was off the table for the family, good or bad.

"Whether it was Madeline's birthday party, because that's a lot anyway, a camping trip, or having the entire family here for Thanksgiving, just adding more people in the house to film it was a little crazy," says Allison. "But you watch families who have done shows and people can feel if you're being authentic and open about things, or if you're not. So when we signed up for it, we knew that we were either going to share our lives or not, you know? People weed out those that are not really sharing, like the Housewives whose husbands are never on the show."

The pair gave producers free rein to shoot anything they want — "outside of us going to the bathroom" — and were worried about seeing the final cut of the show.

"It was nerve-wracking, but I got about two or three episodes in and I realized — I'm really funny," jokes Jay. "It really was a relief being able to finally watch it. I think the show has a lot of heart and more importantly, I think people are going to see pieces of themselves in our family. Everybody deals with the same crap. We all have crazy family members that you sit around and wonder, 'How in the world am I related to this person?' And if you can't think of a crazy family member, then you're probably the one."

Allison is prepared to take any negative reaction "with a grain of salt. Somebody is going to have something to say about everything, so we just tried to put everything out there as best we could, that we would be normally doing with our family."

The entire season was shot prior to the coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay at home, and Allison says the family had fun doing the show because it was a rare "time where we really could focus and spend time together. Little did we know two months later, we'd all be spending plenty of time together."

Rascal Flatts had to cancel their 2020 "farewell tour" due to COVID-19, but Jay has enjoyed having more family time than ever before.

"I've spent most of my adult life on the road and certainly the past 20 years with the Flatts, I've missed out a lot on a lot at home, so it was really nice just for me personally to be here with my family and watch my kids grow and change daily into these wonderful little human beings," he says. "So it was a blessing for me in a different sort of way, because I've missed so much of that, so it was kind of great for me to just exist here with them and be with them as much as I've been able to."

One episode of the show finds the couple arguing over adding one more child to the DeMarcus crew, but as Jay explains, "she shut that down immediately. I've always wanted to have a bigger family and wouldn't mind having more kids at all, but I think that ship has sailed."

"Big families are fun for sure, but I don't know, I don't do really well with no sleep," Allison confesses. "Babies are so cute, so I just feel like maybe we just need to invite more friends over and share their babies and then send them home so they can sleep at their parents' houses and we can get a full night's sleep."

Allison opens up about her own struggles trying to start a family on the show, including going through IUIs, and admits it's out of character for her to be such an open book. "I'm not good like that. The creative touchy feel-y person, whereas he verbalizes his feelings and emotions very well as a song-"

"An excellent communicator," Jay jokingly interjects.

"I'm not so much, but that is something that I really do talk to my friends about because it was tough," says Allison. "Every single time when you go back and back and back and get negative results, it's hard, and you're already on an emotional roller coaster because they're jacking your hormones straight up and straight down."

"I think that any female, when you talk to somebody else who says, 'Oh, I went through the same thing and how horrible was this?'" she adds. "It's just helpful the more things are normalized, because especially in the South, everybody whispers, and I think the more we talk about things, the better off we all are because everybody's dealing with something."

Allison DeMarcus and Jay DeMarcus in episode 1 of DeMarcus Family Rules
| Credit: Netflix © 2020

Their key to their successful marriage? "Separate houses," Jay jokes. "I've got to be honest, the second year we were married, we started seeing a marriage coach, not because we had these huge problems that were insurmountable, but because we needed help."

"We've joked about the fact that I can communicate pretty well and Allie holds a lot of things inside, so we needed some help on communicating and living our lives together and sharing our lives together. And it's been a wonderful thing for us because there's no textbook, there's no handbook on how to share your life with someone and how to spend your life with someone," he continues. "So it's really great for us to periodically check in with someone that helps us find different ways to keep connect with each other, to talk about the issues that we have, to talk about life, to share our feelings with each other. It seems like such a simple thing, but as life unfolds and you have kids and you start living life together, it's a little more difficult than what you think. It's a wonderful thing to admit that you need help and to go seek it when you do."

"We've just always approached it as we're going to figure it out. It's not always going to be pretty, but we'll figure it out because we're going to see this through for our relationship and for our children, and be healthy about it. Not just exist just for the sake of existing, "adds Allison.

"I mean, anybody who says they have an easy, perfect marriage is completely lying. 'I love being his wife.' Okay, but what really pisses you off? Although Jay thinks everybody would believe it if I said it," she laughs.

Rascal Flatts recently marked 20 years since the release of their debut album, and Jay says younger him would be shocked by the life he leads now.

"I think he would be very, very surprised that he would have married such a wonderful, wonderful woman and had the kids that he would have," he says. "And I think he would be proud of what he has done, but I think that what has happened to us over 20 years is far more than that Jay would have ever imagined."

As for whether or not his Rascal Flatts' bandmembers will tune into the series, Jay isn't counting on it. "I'm excited for the guys to see it, but they're probably going, 'Oh God, we've seen enough of him for 20 years.'"

DeMarcus Family Rules is now streaming on Netflix.