With the release of “Survival,” premiering here on Sounds Like Nashville, NEEDTOBREATHE gives fans a taste of their highly anticipated album, Out of Body, slated for an August 28 release via Elektra Records/Centricity Music.
“We were on a cruise and I wanted to write something for the record that’s more jangly and has an older NEEDTOBREATHE rock and roll thing so I wrote the song and roped them into it,” lead vocalist Bear Rinehart tells SLN of enlisting husband/wife Drew and Ellie Holcomb to sing on the song. “They were all for it and that’s how it happened. We have been friends for so long and we play with Drew and Ellie probably more than any other artist in terms of opening [for NEEDTOBREATHE] or at random events so it just made a lot of sense.”
“Survival” was recorded during the pandemic and Rinehart says it marks the first time the band recorded over Zoom. “They just killed it I thought and we could have used any of the takes they did,” he says. “Her voice, in my opinion, has gotten better over the years. That’s not to say it wasn’t good in the beginning, but she’s really come into her own as a vocalist and really has a strong presence to what she does now. When I wrote the song, I was thinking about high harmony and said, ‘This is going to be incredibly high for a guy for falsetto so it’s going to be a girl,’ and she was the one I thought of immediately, and just the phrasing and the way the verse felt, it felt like it would fit Drew’s voice. I didn’t know it would be that easy. Sometimes you think it’s going to work and you get in the studio and it’s just kind of weird, but this was a really smooth day.”
A lot can happen between the time a songwriter writes a song and when the public hears it. Rarely has that been more apparent than in “Survival,” which was written months ago before the current pandemic and protests. After a 35-second acoustic intro, Rinehart’s voice bursts forth on the opening line “Got the devil on my throat.” Coming on the heels of George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, the song’s opening line definitely commands attention.
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All it took was a kind note and a bottle of bourbon for us to become friends with @drewholcombmusic and @ellieholcomb. We met them backstage at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO and since then, they've toured with us more than any other band to date. They're some of the most hardworking people we know and they'll be the first to tell you that they nearly gave up a number of times. If there was ever a song to collaborate with them on, 'Survival' would be it. We can't wait for y'all to hear this song Thursday at 9AM ET…look out for the album release date and pre-order info too 😉
“I’ve had that lyric for a long time,” says Rinehart. “Part of how I write songs is these mental pictures that you get from a lyric and I’ve always felt like that lyric was more about me when I wrote it — do I have the right words to say or is my voice strong enough? It was more about that, sometimes the way [people] feel kind of silenced at times. . . It is more powerful now in this moment. I think a lot of times songwriters are like that. We’re in the moment and we don’t really know what it means when we write it. People, I hope, are spurred on by that image of George Floyd because I think it’s impossible for a human to see that and not want to change things or not want to make a change in yourself.”
NEEDTOBREATHE has built a solid career out of writing and recording songs that prompt the listener to contemplate life, faith and their response to the world around them. The band signed with Universal Music’s Group’s Lava Records in 2005 and since then has built a diverse fan base, which has helped them score hits on both the contemporary Christian and mainstream rock charts. They’ve toured with everyone from Train to Third Day to Taylor Swift to the Zac Brown Band and have sold out their own headlining gigs as well.
Rinehart says Out of Body is the “most spiritual record” NEEDTOBREATHE has ever made. “We are more comfortable right now as people and that obviously translates into your songwriting,” he says. “We’ve feared being pigeonholed a lot of times. I still have that same fear in some ways. . .That’s probably why we’ve always wanted to distance ourselves a little bit from it—not that we don’t believe in Jesus—that we’re not sure we agree with the whole Christian establishment. This record is probably the most spiritual record we’ve made. It really is talking about ourselves in an honest way and I’m really proud of that. People hopefully will be accepting of that.”
“Survival” is definitely from the viewpoint of a believer as Rinehart sings in the chorus “Jesus come quickly, I need you for my survival.” “We didn’t write it as a protest song,” Rinehart says. “There is an important message in the song in the sense I need you for my survival. That’s kind of the beginning of this conversation that we’re all having is that we’ve all failed and we need something bigger than us. That’s the premise of what our band is always talking about. It starts with understanding how wrong we are and I think that’s very powerful now. I hope people will take the song in that way at least to say, ‘Man, we did not have it figured out.” It feels like these conversations have been really tough in the last week.”
Out of Body marks the first album Rinehart and fellow band members Seth Bolt (bass, vocals) and Josh Lovelace (keys, vocals) have recorded since Rinehart’s brother Bo exited the Grammy-nominated band. “It was a longer process for us to sort of understand that this was a possibility and for it to actually happen,” Rinehart says. “We had a longer time to grieve this idea that we’d be moving on. It wasn’t our choice and as it came closer to time, it was like, ‘Oh maybe we are going to record and maybe he won’t be there.’ That was weird to think about. We’d been doing this together for so long and I would say we went in there pretty humbly the first time. We went in for a couple of weeks into the studio and we believed in the songs and thought they were good, but we said, ‘What is this going to look like?’”
Their belief in the new songs helped them find their footing as they recorded the new album, and decided to move forward as a three-piece band. “We were really taking it day by day and about half way through the record is when we realized, ‘Man, we CAN do this and we believe we’re supposed to do this,’” Rinehart says. “We started to feel really good about it and we had a lot of good times making it. And it happened pretty quick, at least for us, and so we’re really proud of it. I think it does come across that we were kind of like, ‘Okay let’s batten down the hatches a little bit and all get together and really depend on each other.’ And that’s really a strength of the record.”
Out of Body was recorded in Nashville with producers Cason Cooley and Jeremy Lutito. In addition to “Survival,” NEEDTOBREATHE has also released two other new songs from the album—the contemplative “Seasons” and upbeat anthem “Hang On.”
Rinehart is anxious for fans to hear the rest of the record. “The world has kind of is just hurting around us. It’s the first time I’ve had the sense that I really feel our music is medicine in a way,” says Rinehart, who lives outside Nashville with his wife and two small children with another child on the way. “My wife is a nurse practitioner, so I’ve always kind of thought what we do is not as important as what she does and I think now, it is. Being here in this pandemic, every time I heard a new song or something and somebody else goes, ‘Whoa! I really needed to hear that today.’ I feel like we kind of poured into that.”
Pre-order Out of Body, out August 28, now.