NEEDTOBREATHE

Growing up in a rural South Carolina church taught the NEEDTOBREATHE boys about faith and family, and instilled in them the roots of real Southern rock. Meet the Charleston-based band as they journey to the other side of the country to spread the good news.


Published:

NEEDTOBREATHE

The Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre is cut into a canyon on the campus of San Diego State University, home to surfers, high-tech wannabes, tanned sorority girls and laidback frat boys. But on the night Charleston-based rock group NEEDTOBREATHE takes the stage, the atmosphere is decidedly more family-friendly. 

The crowd is eclectic, polite and grows by the minute as a parade of musicians perform set after set of inspirational rock, soul, blues and folksy hip-hop for this stop on the 53-city Tour de Compadres. By the time the headliners take the stage, the place is packed with stylishly faded T-shirts sporting Christian band logos and Bible verses. Millennials are out in force, and so are Gen-X parents with teens and tweens in tow. 

In a tight, eclectic set of new tracks and old favorites, the band – Bear Rinehart (vocals/guitar), Bo Rinehart (guitar/vocals/strings), Seth Bolt (base/vocals) and Josh Lovelace (keyboard/vocals) – introduces its fans to the best of its sixth studio album, H A R D L O V E, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Albums chart in July and is not what anyone necessarily expected from the Southern roots rock band with the loyal Christian following. 

“We’ve made a dance record,” says Bear of H A R D L O V E, which is laced with synth sounds and layered instrumentation. “I think it’s a big departure (from 2014’s Rivers in the Wasteland). But that’s what we always think.”

Though in some sense departing from the album that peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Albums Chart and earned the band its first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Multiplied” seems like a questionable move, leaving behind the discord from that album’s creation was no doubt a step toward the light. 

“We were in a dark place when we made the last record,”

Bear says of Rivers, which took much longer to produce because Bear and Bo had so badly damaged their bond as brothers and band mates due to competitive spirits and unchecked egos. They eventually reprioritized family over fame, and came back stronger and closer than ever. 

And if that whole chapter in NEEDTOBREATHE’s history seems to echo of another pair of Southern rock brothers, it’s a pretty fitting coincidence. 

NEEDTOBREATHE concert

“The first band that really changed things for me were the Black Crowes,” says Bear of Georgia natives Rich and Chris Robinson, who earned both critical and popular acclaim in the early 1990s before public feuds repeatedly ripped them apart. “They were soul and rock and gospel, all these things meshed. And I think that’s inevitable. Even if we’re trying to make this modern record, a lot of the throwback stuff sinks its way in.”

That “throwback stuff” echoes all the way back to the Rineharts’ childhood. The sons of a pastor, Bear and Bo were born in the (very) small town of Possum Kingdom, S.C., and later moved to nearby Seneca where they befriended Bolt when he was just 7 years old. The threesome soon started playing music in their church after hours, eventually “borrowing” the church van to travel to gigs.

NEEDTOBREATHE got its informal start playing coffeehouses and other small venues around Furman University, where Bear was a standout wide receiver, winning the 2002 South Carolina Player-of-the-Year Award by the Greenville Touchdown Club. After releasing independent recordings in 2001, they were signed by Atlantic Records in 2005. It was a huge milestone for the group, as they had turned down a Christian label, not wanting to limit their music’s audience and airplay. But the challenge of remaining true to who they are and where they’re from inside an industry that’s constantly trying to copy, warp, critique or reinvent a band’s sound started pretty much right away.

“The first thing they told us was ‘You should be more international,’ which meant ‘Be less redneck’ — no harmonicas, no banjos. That sound was not popular at the time. It is now, but at the time it felt very rebellious,” Bear says of their early roots rock style. “It wasn’t popular to be rootsy. Everyone thought of it as bluegrass.” 

But the band kept their influences intact, and the music scene began to catch up. “There were some great bands like My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon that have made Southern music modern and they put their own spin on it,” Bear says. “And I think we kind of grew up in that.”

Josh Lovelace, raised in Knoxville on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains, joined the band in 2011, the same year they put out “The Reckoning” and, oh yeah, went on tour opening for Taylor Swift. They’ve also done the TV circuit, performing twice on Conan as well as on The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Late Show With David Letterman and a string of others. 

While River gave them a renewed focus and a crossover hit with “Brother,” their collaboration with Gavin DeGraw that earned them a 2015 Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year and a 2016 Billboard Music Award nomination for Top Christian Song, this latest album is a much more upbeat take on the layers of life and love – and the faith that serves as the foundation for both.

“The roots show through,” Seth says. “This record has a lot more gospel choir.”

Such hand-clapping church choir vocals might be a new sound on this album, but it’s an old influence, the bandmates say, that’s actually more about the message than the harmonizing. 

“We grew up in this whole gospel environment where songs are meant to be a lifeline, they’re meant to be inspirational. They’re meant to be something powerful,” Bear says. “I think that comes across in our music the most. We sing songs that you can hang onto. They move you in some way.”

They prove this point easy and often to their San Diego fans, perhaps most notably with the band’s first single off H A R D L O V E, a crowd pleaser called “HAPPINESS” that debuted at No. 5 on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs chart in the spring.  

“We added a choir (to this one) in the studio. But we didn’t think about the live show,” Bear says by way of introducing “HAPPINESS” to the thousands on their feet before him. “You’ll have to sing that part!”

The request feels more like a gift, and the eager audience cheers as Bo dances to the undeniably catchy anthem while his brother sings.

“I’ve got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night / Telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life / There’s a light I see but it’s far in the distance / I’m asking you to show me some forgiveness / It’s all for you in my pursuit of happiness.” 

Jubilant fans raise their arms in praise and their voices in joy:  

“Singing ohh, happiness!”

“Singing ohhh, happiness!”

And it fills the night. 

 

To get the full scoop on NEEDTOBREATHE and their Tour de Compadres, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South Magazine.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

South's Greatest Photographers 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most creative photographers. If that is you, or you know of any, don't hesitate to nominate!

South's Greatest Kids Contest 2017

When it comes to cute, the kids of the South are all way above average! Share the cuteness and nominate your kids today.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Charleston Cars & Coffee

    Jun 17, 2017
    7:30 AM - 10:00 AM @ Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

    7:30am - 10:00am  FREE ADMISSION  Mount Pleasant Towne Centre,1712 Towne Centre Way,Mt Pleasant, SC 29464,USA A bunch of car and...

  • Charleston Farmers Market

    Jun 17, 2017
    8:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Marion Square

    8:00am - 2:00pm  FREE ADMISSION  Marion Square,329 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403,USA Join us every Saturday in beautiful Marion...

  • Rodin: The Human Experience

    Aug 07, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Rodin: The Human Experience presents a selection of 32 figures in bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the French sculptor who left behind 19th...

  • Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection

    Oct 13, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Academy

    When the world gets urban, the South gets Southern. That’s one way to sum up Scenic Impressions: Southern Paintings from the Johnson Collection,...

  • #art912, Avanguardia

    Nov 17, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Avanguardia, an exhibition by Savannah-based artist Lisa D. Watson (American, b. 1967), explores the encroachment of the constructed environment on...

  • Kirk Varnedoe: In the Middle at the Modern

    Sep 22, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Can you have an art exhibition without any artworks? Is a curator an artist? Who or what decides an object’s value? Through the lens of an art...

  • Martial Arts Kung Fu for Kids

    Jun 12, 2017
    4:00 PM @ Atlantic Warriors Wing Chun Kung Fu

    A way for the kids to work hard and laugh hard. It teaches life lessons through physical activity. Atlanticwarriors.org $129 monthly (904)...

  • Party at the Point!

    Jun 16, 2017
    5:30 PM - 9:00 PM @ Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

    5:30pm-9:00pm  Charleston Harbor Resort,20 Patriots Point Road,Mount Pleasant, SC 29464,USA COST: $7 Join us every Friday at the Charleston...

  • Margarita Monday Sail on the Palmetto Breeze

    Jun 19, 2017
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM @ Red's Icehouse

    6:00pm- 7:30pm  Red's Icehouse,100 Church St,Mt Pleasant, SC 29464,USA COST: $35/person. Ladies for $25 per Board PALMETTO BREEZE,...

  • ALJ Monday Night Ceramics

    Jun 12, 2017
    6:00 PM

    Students will learn how to build ceramic sculptures as well as hand crafting with various techniques in form and technique $60 for 4 sessions, $80...

  • Reggae Nights Summer Concert: Mystic Vibrations

    Aug 04, 2017
    7:30 PM - 7:30 PM @ James Island County Park

  • Jacob Lawrence, Lines of Influence at SCAD Museum of Art

    Sep 07, 2017
    All Day @ SCAD Museum of Art

    Jacob Lawrence Lines of Influence Sept. 7, 2017 - Feb. 4, 2018 The SCAD Museum of Art and the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence...

  • Animal Instinct

    Jul 15, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    The diversity of animal imagery in Animal Instinct reveals the wide-ranging roles animals inhabit in an anthropocentric world. From wild...

  • "Rodin: The Human Experience"

    Sep 01, 2017
    All Day @ Jepson Center

    Rodin: The Human Experience presents a selection of 32 figures in bronze by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the legendary French sculptor whose...

  • The Candy Apple Happy Hour

    Jun 13, 2017
    3:00 PM @ The Candy Apple Cafe

    Repeats every day until Sun Jun 18 2017  11 am Cocktail Artist Series The restaurant will serve cocktails inspired by select Broadway...

  • "Savannah Live!" @ The Savannah Theatre

    Nov 02, 2017
    8:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ The Savannah Theatre

    222 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401 8:00pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays Admission: $40 for adults and $20 for children This dazzling...

  • Chocolate Bar Your Way Class

    Jun 14, 2017
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Sweet Pete's Candy

    4 pm sweetpetescandy.com Learn the art of old fashioned candy making in one of Sweet Pete’s Candy’s most popular classes. Sweet...

  • ALJ Cartooning and Illustration Classes @ Balis Community center

    Jun 14, 2017
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Balls Community Center

    Cartooning Illustration Class with William McMahan Wednesdays 6:30pm-8:30pm and/or Saturdays Noon-2:30pm • Ages 12 - Adult • All...

  • "Rewind" @ The Savannah Theatre

    Nov 01, 2017
    8:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ The Savannah Theatre

    222 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401 8:00pm on Wednesdays and Fridays Admission- $40 for adults and $20 for children Rewind back to the first...

  • "A Christmas Tradition" @ The Savannah Theatre

    Nov 23, 2017
    8:00 PM @ The Savannah Theatre

    222 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401 8:00pm on Tuesdays- Saturdays, 4:00pm on Saturday and Sundays Admission- $40 for adults and $20 for children...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Savannah Children's Book Festival 2017

This Saturday brought thousands of visitors to Forsyth Park for the annual Savannah Children's Book Festival. Hosted by the Live Oak Public Libraries, the day-long event showcased the talents of eleven featured authors and thirty-nine indie authors, illustrators, and performing artists from around the country. This year’s festival includes book signings and readings, arts and crafts, community partners and nonprofit organizations, as well as food.

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!

Thursday night was the night to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day at 39 Rue De Jean in Savannah! The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau symbolizes the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine. Attendees enjoyed heavy hors d’oeuvres, an oyster roast outside on the patio, and Henry Fessy Beaujolais Nouveau.

Taste of Savannah Food and Wine Festival 2017

This signature, festival event was a huge hit at its new location, the Georgia State Railroad Museum! Guests wandered the grounds savoring hundreds of wines, spirits, craft beers and more.

13 Secrets Jewelry One-Year Anniversary

Boutique owners Chad and Manu celebrated the one-year anniversary of 13 Secrets Thursday, Nov. 9. Event highlights included gourmet appetizers by local chefs, a wine tasting, door prizes and great networking opportunities! Here's to another great year!

Lip Syncing with Ghost Coast

One epic battle took place on Halloween night, and it all went down at Ghost Coast Distillery in Savannah. Visitors wore their funniest (and scariest!) costumes for the 2017 Halloween event. Many donned costumes that portrayed the singer they would be on stage during the lip sync battle.

Celebrity Chef Dinner

A night featuring dishes by some of the South's best, James Beard Awarded, Chef's of 2017. The night included multiple courses, each paired with the perfect wine to complement the flavors. Simply put - a dinner one will not soon forget!

Telfair Masquerade Ball 2017

Telfair's annual masquerade ball was once again one of the best events of the year! Party-goers donned masks, suits and ball gowns and danced the night away. Libations were flowing, appetizers were aplenty, and the DJ had everyone on the dance floor movin' and groovin'.

Pride Festival Savannah 2017

Downtown Savannah was colored rainbow Saturday Oct. 28 for the 2017 Pride Festival. People from all over the community came out to celebrate equality and love. The family-friendly event included live performances and entertainment.

Buy Local Savannah at Cohen's Retreat

The final Buy Local luncheon of the year kicked off on Thursday to a large crowd, plenty of delicious food, and great speakers. Many guests were in attendance and enjoyed listening to Jeff Kmiec, the general manager of the Desoto Hotel in Savannah, speak about the importance that the Desoto is placing on sourcing locally whenever possible, and how it helps both the business and the local community.

Good Times Jazz VIP Pre-Opening

The Good Times Jazz VIP Pre-Opening ceremony started off with a bang. Folks gathered at the Good Times Jazz Bar and Restaurant on Oct. 25 to sample food, enjoy libations, and network. The venue came about as a desire to bring Southern cuisine, fine wine and the best jazz to the heart of Savannah. Good Times Jazz Bar and Restaurant's grand opening is on Oct. 30 at their location at 107 W. Broughton.