Needtobreathe is still one of my favorite bands today. But after seeing them in concert about two years ago, I thought they were just another “Christian” band that made it mainstream and were slowly fading away from having anything to do with God. I still remember the surprise and the feeling of disbelief I had when I listened to their first couple songs off their new album, Rivers in the Wasteland! I remember thinking, “Did they just sing about God?!”, and pressing repeat to play the song over again. I have learned that at their concerts they go into a little bit more detail of what caused the change, either way I am glad they are back and ready to go!
Bo Rinehart describes Needtobreathe’s latest release, April 15’s “Rivers in the Wasteland,” as “the toughest record we had to make.”
Rinehart says after 14 years together, he and band mates Bear (his brother) and Seth Bolt were feeling the stress.
“We were trying to chase our opportunities as much as possible. There are only so many things we can control, and you never know if you’re going to get a good break or what’s going to happen that’s out of your control,” Rinehart says.
Over the years, the South Carolina rock band — which plays tonight at the Gillioz Theatre — has seen considerable success. Every year since 2008, the band has been nominated for a GMA Dove Award. Every year since 2009, Needtobreathe has taken home awards for nearly every category in which the band has been nominated, including five wins for Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year and three wins for Group of the Year.
But the pressure just got to be too much, Rinehart says.
“It was a downward spiral from there. We put a lot of added pressure that we didn’t need,” he says. “…We just kept hitting a wall and at some point we had to take a break and slow things down and regroup and figure out what was most important.
“Early on as things started to get bad, you start to blame one another. We, of course, went down that path. It took us a minute. We finally had to step back from the project for a couple of months before we started realizing we needed each other and our identity didn’t need to be Needtobreathe. Our identity is in Christ,” Rinehart says.
Rinehart says that realization changed everything for “Rivers in the Wasteland,” which is ranked No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart.
“I think it crossed all of our minds that this could end any second. I think really embracing that concept and that idea was what allowed us to step away from it fully for those three months and get our heads on straight.
“We wanted to know if we backed away from this right now, would that be OK?” he says.
They realized it would be, that there were more important things than the band.
“I began writing songs immediately once that release and surrender came. I felt that was the freedom I needed to keep going,” Rinehart says.
It also liberated the band from overworking the sound in the studio.
“We just really wanted to make a record that was as honest as we could be. The best way we could do that was to allow ourselves to be more vulnerable so some of the errors and mistakes would show up in the music,” he says.
Rinehart says the result was worth the journey.
“I think the excitement is back. We’re completely ready, we’re anxious. This is the first time in a long time that we’ve been sitting at home jotting down what we need to do during the sets,” he says. “We have a love for what we do. The show will be fun. It’s going to be loud at times, it’s going to be intimate at times, but I think we’re ready for putting on a show that’s the best of Needtobreathe and what we can do.”