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Not Just Another Christian Band

Needtobreathe hits the road after new release

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Bear and Bo Rinehart of the South Carolina-based alternative rock quartet, Needtobreathe (also made up of Seth Bolt and Joe Stillwell) could have avoided the ups and downs of the music industry. Bear, a talented football player at Furman University, where he also majored in political science, had other options. Bo appeared in the movie Radio and was later offered to star in the TV series One Tree Hill. But the Rinehart brothers chose to pursue a career in music.

Needtobreathe formed during the Rinehart's freshman year of college. Bear admits that playing music, football and studying was not easy. "School was definitely the one that missed out the most," he said. "We used to do crazy stuff where after a game on Saturday, instead of riding back with the team, I would get in the van with the band and go do a show."

The band released their debut album Daylight in 2006. They crossed the ocean to record with producer Andy Green in England. Their second album The Heat was just released on August 28. Produced by Rick Beato and Ed Roland, Needtobreathe recorded The Heat in Seneca and Atlanta. "We really wanted this record to take more of an organic turn than our last record did. It was very Euro, very Brit-pop. We had a lot of those ambient sort of sounds and on this record we really wanted to get back to some pianos, acoustic guitars, slide guitars, harmonicas and all that," Bear says.

Needtobreathe also wanted to mimic, in some ways, the sounds of Jump Little Children, who also used Beato. Their choice of producers and decision to record closer to home resulted in the album having a variety of crisp, natural sounds. Although Bear admits, "We spent a lot more time on this record. We spent six weeks on the first one and we probably spent 6 months on this one."

The music on The Heat shows a back-to-the-basics, Southern styled flare. Added is instrument diversity -- Needtobreathe plays an 1800's pump organ on the song "Second Chances." The 14-track album features a variety of homegrown rock tracks, but also a side kick of worship and gospel on tunes such as "Washed by Water" and "Signature of Divine (Yahweh)." The two previous songs are influenced by the bands faith in God and growing up in the church, where the Rinehart's father is a pastor.

Bear Rinehart says "Signature of Divine (Yahweh)" is a worship song Bo wrote and formerly sang in church. "We started thinking about how a lot of works of art were inspired by a God," he says. "We started thinking about cathedrals in Rome and those kinds of things. We would hope that we as people, as Gods creation, would be inspired by God and that sometimes our acts of love would be and can be the greatest vision of Gods art in the world."

So, does Needtobreathe consider themselves a Christian band? Oddly, no. Bear explains that the band signed their record label with Atlantic and prior to the signing they never considered signing a Christian record deal.

"If we were truckers from the South that would definitely come across in our music and being Christians definitely comes across in our music in different ways, but I think no more than being from the South or being an athlete or whatever, just as a trait," he says. "We think the genre of Christian rock; it's sort of weird to call it that. It's like saying are you a Christian doctor? That's kind of odd. Are you a doctor or are you not?"

Needtobreathe will be showcasing new material on their tour, in addition to songs from The Heat. Bear believes the band is beginning to have what it takes to produce their own recordings and hopes to start releasing EPs that will be available online or at shows, after every new record. Since The Heat was recorded, the still-considered-newbie band has already written 15 more songs. "We are trying to gear up for where we feel like music is heading. It doesn't seem like to me, records are heading where people are going to be able wait two years, every time before they put out a full record anymore," Bear says.

Needtobreathe will perform with Moses Mayfield at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, at Amos' Southend, 1423 S. Tryon St. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

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