It’s the first time South Carolina based four-piece NEEDTOBREATHE have come to Australia, and the Grammy nominated rock band couldn’t be coming for a better cause. Supporting Third Day on World Vision’s Make A Difference Tour, FDRMX caught up with lead singer Bear Rinehart before their Melbourne show and talked all things music, life, faith and family.
It is apparent through the topics discussed in their Rivers In The Wasteland album that the band are concerned with far more than their fame. “We love the idea that music has more power than just to, get people to dance… It’s partly that, but it has a much bigger purpose. It inspires people to do things with their life,” Bear shared with FDRMX.
While this is their first time down under supporting the work of World Vision, Bear has previously visited Uganda twice in support of the Palmetto Medical Initiative. His time there has proved invaluable, not only during the current tour, but in the shaping of his career “You get some perspective outside of your own life and your own situation, and it brings some balance to things,” he expressed. “For what we do obviously as musicians and so called ‘rock stars,’ it’s great for us to involved with an organization ongoing that reminds us of what is important.”
Released in April last year, Rivers In The Wasteland is the first album from NEEDTOBREATHE since their 2011 release The Reckoning. The 3 years between both musical offering means they both paint a vastly different picture, their more recent album containing far less “over the top production.”
“It’s pretty drastically different.” Says Bear about how the band has changed with this new chapter. “We were small town kids and we were doing it for the right reasons for sure… and we did it because we loved music,” but after ending up in hospital due to a fight with his brother and bandmate Bo, Bear shared how NEEDTOBREATHE reached breaking point. “It was sort of like a Lennon and McCartney thing. It was sort of like if he wrote a song I’d try to write a song that was better, and that got out of hand a little bit. And I think we just put success as a priority over family and over really everything.”
After their altercation, he says they realized “how screwed up we had gotten.” And with their time off came a new understanding of who they were as a family and as a band. “We needed to step back and reprioritize things and really that’s what this record’s about. It took us about a year to make it and in that year, a lot of, I guess a healing took place in the band and it’s changed everything about how we do things.”
Aside from containing some bona fide hits like Grammy nominated song “Multiplied,” the album which he says, “Just happened to us,” is also deeply personal. Citing “Wasteland” as his favorite track, it was written in a place of brokenness. “There’s a lot hope in that song…there’s a glimmer in the eye in that song even though I didn’t feel it at the time.” He says it is representative of the record as a whole. “The song was bigger than what I knew about it at the time. It was more important than my emotion the night I wrote it, and now I think about the song a different way than when I first penned it.”
The album title is literally taken from a scripture, and the band’s faith is weaved through each track on the record. “Our faith is a huge part of our life, and obviously when you go through something tough like we went through in the last couple of years, you lean on your faith even more. So I think in a lot of ways that’s how you see it come out in our record sometimes.” Both Bear and Bo grew up in the church, and it was in this tradition that they developed their own musicality. “When we’re personally going through it more, it (our faith) shines a little bit brighter in our songs. I think that’s a powerful thing.”
So how does the band stay grounded and keep rooted in their faith on tour? Well Bear is the first to point out that a couple of years ago, they thought they that it all figured out. “We had to learn some difficult lessons to realize that…you’re not done learning, and you’re not above anything,” he said opening up to FDRMX. “You’re not a rock star, you know. You’re a regular person, and you’re still trying to love the people around you.”
With their new single “Brother” featuring Gavin DeGraw out, NEEDTOBREATHE have a lot to be hopeful about. He says he reached out to DeGraw knowing that he would have a personal connection to the song. “Within five minutes he was like, “I love this song, let’s do this, make it work,” shares Bear.
And staying true to their family values, their upcoming Tour De Compadres around the US also features some of their close friends. “It’s gonna be cool,” says Bear. “We’re gonna have a lot of guys get up on stage with us and a lot of collaboration.” Switchfoot, Ben Rector and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors will join them on various dates, and it’s going to be a treat for fans. “It’s gonna be kind of wild, like a little mini festival every night, so it should be fun,” says Bear.
The journey to Rivers in The Wasteland has undoubtedly been a long one for Bear Rinehart and NEEDTOBREATHE. With it comes a fresh sound, pure sincerity, and an unabashed vulnerability when it comes to talking about what really matters in life. And now Bear says, “We’re having more fun than we’ve ever had before.”