For the first time in three years Rascal Flatts find themselves in the Vocal Group of the Year category leading up to the ACM Awards. The trio admit that throughout the 2000s they’d gotten used to being included, so being back after a two-year absence is very sweet.

"It really means the absolute world to us. It felt so good to be nominated again," Gary LeVox tells Taste of Country. "Not that we went anywhere. We've been humping like we have every year. But you miss what you don't have."

“Humbled,” “honored” and “filled with joy” are words the “Riot” singers used to describe the nomination. Bassist Jay DeMarcus admits he’d stopped checking the nominees when they came out because it’d been so long since they scored a nod.

"It was a great way to wake up. It was a fantastic way to start the day,” he says before recalling his very first ACM Awards. That was in 2001, and he was wearing a pink suit as the trio won Top New Vocal Duo or Group.

“I remember standing on the curb outside the theater there (in L.A.), and the first person that I called was my mom and I just burst into tears. And I’m crying and I’m so emotional and Brooks and Dunn had just won for Duo of the Year and Kix Brooks walks up to me and patted me on the back and says (impersonating Kix Brooks), ‘Congratulations pal, you got you a bowling trophy too, didn’t you?’”

Like Brooks and Dunn, Rascal Flatts begin their Las Vegas residency this year. They’ll play the Joint atthe Hard Rock Hotel beginning February 25. They’ll begin the “Riot” Tour on May 29 in St. Louis, Mo. Scotty McCreery will open.

Watch: Rascal Flatts Perform "Riot"