Working from a mix of Brit-rock, alternative pop, and Americana styles, South Carolina band Needtobreathe plows along with an unusually strong sense of grandeur. On stage or on disc, they don't sound like the typical Palmetto State rock band — especially on their brand-new studio album The Outsiders.
"We've gotten more and more honest with ourselves, and that what the whole theme of The Outsiders is all about," says lead singer and guitarist Bear Rinehart, speaking last week before a gig in Baltimore. "We're from a small town [the Piedmont town of Seneca], and we'll never move to New York or L.A. The record is about us being proud of that more than hiding behind it."
The band recently started the first of two headlining tours behind The Outsiders. The trip continues until late November. This Saturday, alt-rock quartet Needtobreathe celebrate the release of their third major label album at the Music Farm.
Rinehart and his bandmates — brother/guitarist Bryant "Bo" Rinehart, drummer Joe Stillwell, bassist Seth Bolt — moved to the Charleston area last year. Soon after, they built a home recording studio in Summerville where Bolt oversaw pre-production demo sessions for The Outsiders.
"This was the first time we didn't demo songs in Seth's dad's garage," says Rinehart. "No interruptions or distractions ... it helped us make a record that represented us more than any we've made in the past."
Three different studio producers worked on The Outsiders: Jim Scott, Rick Beato, and John Alagia. Some songs are already getting airplay on commercial FM radio, while others have been tagged for musical snippets on television shows. Local rock station The Bridge at 105.5 started playing several tracks in regular rotation a week before The Outsiders was released in late August.
The sons of an Assembly of God pastor, the Rinehart brothers share a similar family history with another anthemic modern rock band — Kings of Leon's Followill brothers from Tennessee.
"We have heard comparisons to the band," says Rinehart. "It's weird, how many times I've read about them being preacher's kids and all of that. There are a lot of churches in the South, and a lot of preachers' kids around [laughs]. It's been cool, because we are big fans of Kings of Leon. We don't see too many parallels, but the comparison doesn't hurt."
As for operating as a rock band with brothers at the helm, it's not much of a problem for the Rineharts and their bandmates. That's pretty impressive, considering how contentious such a situation can be.
"I think there's is something to that, just because of the competitive nature between brothers," says Bear. "My brother and I bring that, but we are very honest with each other and harsh about things, which keeps things real. Writing songs and playing music can be a tricky endeavor, especially between artistic people. But my brother and I have learned to deal with that. It's made us better as a band. When it comes to making an album, we're all talking about making things sound new and big, and broadening the band's style."