I'll be the first to admit it: I've never been a big fan of alternative rock, until quarantine hit. One night out of sheer boredom I found myself listening to it, and it rocked my world (get it?). Since then, I've been listening to artists like Switchfoot, and of course, NEEDTOBREATHE.
NEEDTOBREATHE has an incredible way of telling stories in their songs in a way that feels so fresh and new. Their songs are relatable, and truly are masterpieces in song form. Even if you're not familiar with the name NEEDTOBREATHE, you've probably heard some of their songs if you listen to Christian radio. Some of their hit songs include "Something Beautiful," "Brother," and "Hard Love."
NEEDTOBREATHE is comprised of lead singer Bear Rinehart, keyboardist Josh Lovelace, and bassist Seth Bolt. I had the chance to chat with Josh and Seth about the band's new album Out Of Body, their newest radio single "Who Am I," and other interesting topics.
Earlier this year, Bear's brother Bo announced that he was leaving the band. How has that changed the dynamic of NEEDTOBREATHE?
Josh: I think we're still trying to figure that out in some ways. It's still pretty new to us. We've been a band for a very long time, so I think that we've gotten used to doing things in a certain way, and relying on the people that are in our circle. We've lived life together forever, too, so it's different. I think the three of us are learning how to stretch new muscles and do things that we've never done before. But, also do the things that we've always done. We're just having to do it a little bit differently.
But all that said, it's been a really rewarding season for us. The three of us have been able to look at each other and say, "We're in this together, and we can take this one day at a time." This is a season that we're all really proud of.
What has the pandemic been like for the band?
Seth: We were actually in the studio finishing up Out Of Body in March. During that time everything with the coronavirus and quarantine was developing. So, from that point on, we decided that we would quarantine together with our families, so we could have a "home team." This way we could continue to work together and make music.
It's been a strangely fruitful time for the band. Being forced to be at home has forced us to have a lot of great conversations and write a lot of new songs, and connect and get on the same page. It's been good for us.
Recently, radio picked up on your new single "Who Am I." What's the story behind that song?
Josh: "Who Am I" is a song that Bear—our lead singer and primary songwriter for the band—wrote with a couple of guys in Nashville: songwriter Jordan Reynolds and country singer Thomas Rhett. Thomas has been a friend of the band for a while, so it's exciting that they got a chance to sit down and write together. "Who Am I" was one of the first songs that we all looked at each other and thought, "Man, this is a really good song." We were all excited to go into the studio to record it.
"Who Am I" is great because it's universal in so many ways. Everyone in the world—especially right now—wants to feel loved. They look in the mirror and think that they're not worthy of love, whether it's current circumstances or ones in past. This song reminds us that who we are is not defined by what we've done. Rather, who we are is defined by whose we are in light of our faith.
This song also reminds us of the love of the people that are around us, who have stuck by us when we were trying to make it as a band. We have so many people in our corners that look at us and say, "Yes. You're worthy of love, and we love you."
"Who Am I" is universal in the sense that it's about different ways to express love. It's also one of the most personal songs on the record for all of us. All of us see it in different ways, but that's what's great about music.
You released an incredible music video for "Who Am I." What was it like filming that?
Seth: Filming the music video for "Who Am I" was pretty wild. It was the first time we had done anything like this during the quarantine. We had to make a few music videos in two days with a very small crew in one warehouse. It was awesome getting to see people again. And, it was very cool to be with the guys playing music and making music videos. Some videos were performance pieces where the whole video was one-shot.
For the "Who Am I" music video, we had our long-time lighting director Jonathan Woolridge. He was running lights for the video. This was pretty cool because it was the closest thing we've done this year that felt like doing a concert. We were also working with Jared Hogan, the director who did the music video for our hit, "Brother." We, Jared, and Jonathan came up with a lot of different cool concepts for these new music videos, "Who Am I" being one of them.
Making these videos allowed us to escape the craziness of quarantine and the coronavirus. It allowed us to be together and create art again. We're really thankful for the people who contributed to the music video. They crushed it.
Talk about the inspiration behind your new album, Out of Body?
Josh: We had a theme in mind when we started working on the album. We had this idea of losing ourselves in this project and being completely open to whatever would happen. The idea of 'out of body' is different for each of us in different ways.
For me, it was losing my preconceived thoughts of what the band has been, and what my life had been up to this point. I need to take it one day at a time and walk into this next season wide-eyed and open to whatever. You can hear that there's a thread of innocence throughout the whole record that brings that idea back to the forefront.
It's amazing to be a part of this band. And, even after these years, we still love what we do. There's a feeling of being outside of ourselves, and surrendering to the process.
Seth: We went in not just wanting to have fun, but needing to have fun. Nearly everyone in the band has kids. Everyone gets to watch their kids be fearless and have fun, and run at things. For us when we go to make a record, we think, "What does this record need to be? We need to do a song like this, and like that."
In the past, we've made records where we've been too inside of our own heads. For Out Of Body, we wanted to take a different approach. We wanted to release our ego. Have high expectations with low attachments. We decided to have fun and trust one another in the process. If one of us said, "Hey, you should try this." We were going to try it. We leaned into that mentality, and we had lots of fun. These songs took twists and turns that we weren't anticipating, but we just went with it.
What are your favorite songs from the album?
Josh: There's a few that stand out. One song that's grown on me over time is the title track, "Out Of Body." When that song was first presented to me, I wasn't necessarily feeling it. It hadn't proved itself to me. After getting in the studio and working on the song, it took on a whole other thing. Now, it's one that I love to listen to.
Just a side note (which I'm pretty proud of), my six-year-old son sings in the kid's background vocals at the beginning of the song. He's super excited about this new track. It's funny—when we were doing band photoshoots for this record, my son asked if he needed to come with us since he was a background singer. It's pretty cool to have your six-year-old excited about what you do—to be involved.
Seth: "Survival" is the song that stands out to me. It features Drew and Ellie Holcomb: two artists who have toured with NEEDTOBREATHE more than anyone else. They're like family. They crushed their performance on that song. We always love working with them.
Another one that stands out to me is "Child Again." It's a personal song that Bear wrote. I remember when he sent me the demo. I loved it. The song's message—the desire to feel the innocence of childhood again, and the safety that goes along with it—really resonated with me. At the time, I was in a place where I was dealing with some really tough stuff. I was feeling like that innocence was stolen by reckoning with humanity when it mistreats you, and when people don't take care of you. It's an emotional song. I think a lot of people will be able to resonate and connect with it.
After Out Of Body comes out, what's next for NEEDTOBREATHE? Are there any other upcoming projects?
Josh: You bet. We finished Out of Body with way more material than we normally have for a record. Most of the time, there are five to 10 songs that we leave. Songs that we may never play again. We might not put any of the songs on the album, but they might come out on a deluxe record or some other release. But, for this album, we had about 50 songs. So, there's plenty of material that we have that we would love to use. The idea is trying to figure out how to get that stuff out quicker.
We had four years between Hard Love and Out Of Body, so we don't want to wait that long again. We're going to try to figure out a creative way to get back into the studio as soon as we can. Right now, the world is a crazy place. We can't tour at the moment, so the next best thing for us is to continue working in the studio. Try to make as much music as we can.
Finally, how can we be praying for you as a band?
Seth: Right now, everyone's going through a season that has elements of uncertainty. It's a painful time. There are so many different strains on us in so many different ways. Like Josh was saying earlier, we finished this record feeling more united than we ever have. Yet, at the same time, we're still going through a process of healing. So pray for healing and restoration.
Nobody's perfect, and we certainly aren't. Oftentimes, our songs are just trying to struggle well through the tough stuff in life. I don't know if there's ever been a season where that hasn't been the case. We're just learning as we go.
Grace Chaves is a fan of all things Christian music. She is one of NRT's youngest writers. Homeschooled, Grace loves concerts, Jesus, and songwriting.
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