Although they have been together for almost two decades already, rock band NEEDTOBREATHE just wrapped their first acoustic tour knowing that it’s never too late to start something new — especially because simplifying their style is something they have longed to do for years.
Popculture.com sat down with lead vocalist, Bear Rinehart, and his brother, Bo Rinehart, the band’s backing vocalist, to discuss their desire for this new style.
“We’ve always wanted to do it to be honest with you,” Rinehart said. “I mean a lot of the songs start on acoustics or pianos and they kind of get carried away on records sometimes, I feel like, that’s been our favorite part of shows, are when we stripped it down to the two acoustic songs we do.”
The idea of stripping away all of the glitz and glam of a standard production and going back to the basics led the South Carolina band to the concept that each performance should only consist of a few hundred audience members.
“We downsized a little bit, I mean, more than we probably thought we were going to,” Rinehart said. “I think we thought maybe anything over five or 600 people would be too much, and that wasn’t true. Some of these bigger rooms, like the Ryman, we played [for] 2,500 [and that] is about perfect. But we wouldn’t want to do an arena or something like that.”
However, those who work closely with the band weren't wild about the idea of downsizing.
“We’ve always asked to do it and the agencies and managers were like ‘I don’t know if it’s a good idea because you’ve got to play smaller rooms,’ and so we sort of did a trial run this time and it went way better than we thought, and we loved it,” Rinehart said.
There was nothing intimidating or new about scaling their audience size back — for the band at least. It's a spot they have not only been before, but a place in their career they enjoy visiting from time to time.
“Every couple of years we say ‘can we scale it back and can we get a taste of what it was like to be in a small dingy club or something,’" Bo added. “So a couple of years ago we did what we called ‘The Stomping Grounds Tour’ and we went back to the clubs that we first played, and I think that gave us a taste of ‘we can bring this thing back’ and see what it feels like this way, and just getting back to the roots of what we did, which is how the songs were written.”
This allows the group to ignite more conversations with their fans. The “quieter” and “more intimate” setting allows the band of four to hear the audience react, which “adds to the conversation.”
“You just know that there are mistakes that are going to happen,” Bo said. “So they are on their toes and we are on our toes, and so you can feel that energy in the show and you can hear them. So if somebody shouts something, you are right there, you can hear it clear as day, so there is a lot more interaction between the band and the audience.”
“It feels like we’re sitting in our living room together and you can harmonize better and the dynamics between the bands,” Bo added, regarding the band’s bond and the benefit of performing acoustic shows. "So we’re playing loud and soft and there’s this flow where you can key off one another in the band and when it’s acoustic like that, you can really hear the other guys.”
Bo and Bear told PopCulture.com they are halfway through their next album, but are taking their time with this one. The band believes this one will be a “turning point” in their career.
NEEDTOBREATHE will head back on the road for their second acoustic tour starting in February. Their tour dates can be found here.