Raised in the small town of Possum Kingdom, South Carollina, brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart of the band NEEDTOBREATHE are spreading their majestic noise even further.
Both parents instilled a love of music in their boys – mom taught piano, while dad's younger years were spent touring as a trumpet player with such country legends as Roy Clark and Glen Campbell. In addition, the constant influx of new campers exposed the Rineharts to a wide variety of musical styles.
"Even though we were out in the boonies,' Bear says, 'every kind of kid from around the state would come to the camp, so we were exposed to a lot of music – rap, country, rock."
As the brothers approached their teens, the Rineharts moved to the slightly larger South Carolina town of Seneca . While growing up, they were first introduced to Christian rock bands like DC Talk and early Switchfoot. They soon discovered the wider musical landscape of bands like Pearl Jam, Travis, and the Black Crowes. Having learned the rudiments of guitar and piano at an early age, Bear began seriously playing guitar at 16 and almost immediately started writing original songs. It wasn't long before Bo also took up the instrument and began writing.
"Bo's incredibly artistic and creative,' Bear recalls. 'When he first started to play guitar, his attitude was like, 'I don't want to learn the rules. I'd rather just see what happens.' He was already thinking out of the box, trying to make his own way."
It was during his freshman year in college that Bear, and his longtime friend, drummer Joe Stillwell, started NEEDTOBREATHE. Brother Bo joined in along with friend seth Bolt on bass and before long, the band amplified their sound and quickly began booking frequent gigs around South Carolina .
NEEDTOBREATHE toured constantly, playing dozens of gigs around the Southeast, from Alabama to Virginia, both as headliners as well as with such artists as Switchfoot, Graham Colton, Edwin McCain, and Collective Soul. Their hard work saw the rise of an ardent fan following, known as 'the Breathers' who act as an independent street team spreading the word about their favorite band.
'People were always saying to us, 'If you ever need anything...?'' Bear says.' We thought, 'Well, we do need something,' it's really about kids telling other kids about us.'
Along with the non-stop road work, NEEDTOBREATHE also laid down a series of recordings at Plantation Studios, the studio Bolt – who has a degree in record engineering – opened when he was just 16. The band recorded three self-released EPs at Plantation, ultimately selling more than 15,000 copies.
When time came to make the album proper, they opted to record in England with producer Andy Green (Keane, KT Tunstall) at the controls. Their Lava/Atlantic debut, "Daylight" was released in 2006. With songs like ‘Shine On’ and the powerful first single, “You Are Here,” the album is rich with sweeping sonics and heartfelt emotions that are both deeply individual and wholly universal.
The bands eagerly anticipated second album, "The Heat" was released in 2007. Songs such as the acoustic-tinged “Again” and the rejoiceful “Signature of Divine (Yahweh)” see the band melding warm, organic textures to their powerful brand of skyscraping, heartfelt rock. With “THE HEAT,” NEEDTOBREATHE blazes a new musical trail, revealing not just the depth of its spirit, but the far reaches of its soul.
“There are moments in music – maybe it’s a whole song, sometimes it’s just a portion – that when you hear it, it just breaks you down,” says singer/guitarist/pianist/songwriter Bear Rinehart. “We really wanted to get those kinds of moments on this record. We wanted this record to hit people in a really strong way.”
“There was this vibe that we were all working on this record and nobody had any real ego things, which is very rare,” Rinehart says. “It was a completely fluid relationship, which I think made the record a lot better.”
We felt like we could be more ourselves,” Rinehart explains. “When we were in places like San Francisco and played a song with a southern vibe, people still got it. It gave us a confidence that those things have a universal appeal. So making the record, if we wanted to use harmonica or slide guitar, things that are more southern, we went for it.”
The use of such instruments as an antique 1800s pump organ (on the band-produced closer, “Second Chances”) are striking but completely right, adding history and depth to the album’s rich texture. Songs such as “We Could Run Away” and “More Time” sound heartfelt and alive, given strength and identity from a musical approach that Rinehart describes as adding “a little grit to things.”
"Having grown up in church, the sounds of gospel are intrinsically woven into the Rineharts’ musical DNA. As NEEDTOBREATHE reached inward, inspirational sounds began to inform their work, notably on “Washed By The Water,” which recasts an old time spiritual as rousing modern rock, and the self-described “worship song,” “Signature of Divine (Yahweh).” Anthemic yet down-to-earth, the track seamlessly knits touches of gospel and R&B into the band’s cinemascope sound.
NEEDTOBREATHE returned to the studio and released "The Outsiders" in 2009.
With "The Outsiders" ready to rise, NEEDTOBREATHE have already gotten back to their first love – playing live. 'We're really excited about going out there and just hitting it as hard as we can,' Bear says. 'We get a lot of validation from playing to new crowds, from playing to people who have no idea who we are. We just go out there and all of a sudden, these people that never heard our music before are being moved and hopefully inspired by what we do. We all think there's a great reward in that.'