NEEDTOBREATHE: An ‘outsiders’approach to songwriting


First time I saw NEEDTOBREATHE live in 2008 I was living in NYC and developing ideas for this yet unnamed website. I was, and still am, drawn to people who purposely choose not to please everyone. NEEDTOBREATHE is that kind of rock ‘n’ roll band – they write for the outsiders.

Bo Rinehart enjoys breaking out his banjo, knowing full well some of the existing fans won’t enjoy the vibe;  his brother, Bear, writes lyrics drenched in vulnerability, alienating some of the potential pop-radio fanbase.

Last year, I caught up with the band during their first show show in London – right before their tour with Taylor Swift – to interview Bo and Bear on what they want the band to be remembered for and how they approachsongwriting – and props for being one of the few bands that sounds even better live than in studio. Video duration 9 mins:


0:10 – Do you start with the lyrics or the melody?

1:47 – Is there a specific message you try to pass on with your music?

2:48 – Have you alienated some people with your lyrics?

Yeah I think so, I think that is kinda the point. – Bo

That’s the trouble with being honest. The more you learn, the more in deep you are. And in some ways I think a lot of bands get worse when that happens, and they don’t want to do what they used to do, and a lot of fans go. For us it’s been cool, because we’ve done that on every record and we’ve gotten better. [Sometimes] we look back and wonder why did we do the things we did. But it was a part of a process for us, something we were pursuing. We were being as real as we could at the time. That’s what we liked, that’s what we did, and that’s what we are doing today. – Bear

I think to be a real fan of the band over time, you have to understand that part. We’re going to make some mistakes, but we’re going to be doing it full speed the whole time – we feel that music is a great responsibility. – Bear

We don’t really want fans to like NEEDTOBREATHE, we want them to love us. In order to do that, you have to set your boundaries, you can’t be everything to everybody. – Bo

On playing festivals: We don’t care about the reaction of the whole room, we care that we do our thing so strong that 50 people out of the 1000 people there ‘got it’. – Bear

6:35 What do you want NEEDTOBREATHE to be remembered for a 100 years from now?

I think everybody hopes that their music will last, but I think our music is particularily transparent; and I hope people feel that for years to come… What matters is if I was being honest about my experiences, so that people can relate them to their own. – Bear

If you are new to NEEDTOBREATHE, why not start with their lastest album, ‘The Reckoning’, and get the scoop on how it came together. Video duration 6:40 mins (LOVE the lyric “Never run away a boy, when you can walk away a man”):