In Needtobreathe’s 20-year music history, they’ve won Dove Awards, have been Grammy nominated, toured with Taylor Swift, headlined sold-out shows at iconic music venues around the world, and still continue to be “a rock n’ roll band from South Carolina” who write songs for fans to live by.
Keyboardist Josh Lovelace joined Laura Bennett on the UNDISTRACTED podcast ahead of the release of their new album, Into the Mystery, and said they’ve grown so much since the early days of doing “over 150 shows in six months” – he no longer sees “success” the same way.
“When I first joined the band, we were all in a place where we’d cut off our left arm to be successful,” Josh said.
“We’d just do [anything] figuring out how to ‘make it’… but we couldn’t sustain it.”
“Over time, as we’ve had kids and gotten older, we’ve realised that ‘success’ for us has been the long game. There hasn’t been one moment where we ‘made it’, and I appreciate that.”
Even if gradually, the band has gained a lasting reputation for phenomenal live shows and writing lyrics that get to the core of human emotion and experience.
Both lead singer Bear Rinehart and his brother Bo, who left the band in 2020, have always written songs that Josh said allowed you to look at the world “from another perspective”, whether that’s on issues of love, faith, friendship or growing up.
“We’ve always kept ourselves in check by asking, ‘Is what we’re saying honest?’” Josh said.
“That gives us free reign to skip around different topics [and ask] ‘What’s the honest approach to that subject, and how can we say it in a way that’s not tiptoeing around it?’”
In 2015, they got really honest about the challenges of being in a band, releasing their chart-topping single Brother that spoke of a rift between Bear and Bo, and what it took for them to overcome their disconnection.
“In different seasons we’ve [handled hardship] better than others,” Josh said.
“When Brother came out we were at a spot in our band where we were able to stand on stage and say, ‘Man, we’ve made a lot of mistakes but we’re still here’.
“With any job you can’t love it everyday, but we’re just so fortunate.
“Being in a band like ours, where we write songs that can make people want to be better or do better, in those times when it’s tough and you don’t enjoy it, I feel like we can make a pretty quick 180 on those feelings, knowing that people are just really living to the music – which as a fans of bands, I know is pretty special, and pretty rare.”
Full UNDISTRACTED interview
Finding the balance between what he does with Needtobreathe and what’s important outside the band was a surprising gift of 2020 for Josh.
“When COVID first came on the scene, I think for the first three months I was very, very depressed,” Josh said.
“I wondered if [Needtobreathe] would still be relevant, or if we’d be forgotten when it was over. I kept waking up thinking, ‘Am I ever going to get to play music again?’
“It’s funny how things work out though, because being at home gave me the energy boost that I needed to realise that all the music and all the touring and all that stuff will go away definitely, the thing that we can kind of control is the legacy that we’re leaving behind with our families.
“When I play my last note they’ll still be there, and that’s important to me.”
Needtobreathe’s new album Into the Mystery is out July 30. Listen to Josh’s full UNDISTRACTED interview with Laura Bennett in the player above.