WATCH: Behind The Meaningful Music Of NEEDTOBREATHE

South Carolina-based rockers, NEEDTOBREATHE, declare in the chorus of one of their most popular songs, “With everything we’ve learned, we’ve finally come to terms, we are the outsiders.” It’s a tune they often end their show on as it serves as an unofficial up-tempo anthem of sorts for both the band and their legion of loyal fans.

Band member Bo Rinehart even has the words “The Outsider” permanently adorned on his forearm. This term, outsider, along with much of what they do musically, has many layers of meaning. It is also an appropriate moniker for a band that doesn’t quite fit into any particular musical mold. And, they like it that way.

Southern Living caught up with the guys aboard their tour bus on a recent stop in Birmingham, Alabama and discussed their musical roots. Band members Bear Rinehart, Bo Rinehart, Seth Bolt, and Josh Lovelace all approach music with different influences. Their range of musical inspiration runs from Tom Petty to Otis Redding and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Peter Gabriel and even Woody Guthrie.

All of those influences and the four distinct personalities of the men in the band blend together to produce the perfect sound of Southern music with a hint of church.

In fact, that hint of church has led the band to battle over a particular genre label. NEEDTOBREATHE is often listed as Christian Rock, and while that influence is certainly there, their hope is to cast a wider net of appeal. They see their music as a more inclusive experience.

Front man Bear Rinehart explained it to us. “We grew up playing in our dad’s church. He’s a pastor. It gave us a place to play and learn how to use instruments,” Bear said, gesturing to brother Bo.

“I always used to say [that] you can’t play in clubs when you’re eight years old,” Bear joked.

He then stressed that through church they learned the importance of music, and, specifically, the importance of gospel music.

“We learned what gospel was and the fact that it’s a lifeline for people. It’s more meaningful than some pop music that you come by. People are living this and I think that’s something we carry into our music now.” Bear continued, “We think of ourselves as a rock and roll band, but I would hope that there is some higher meaning in the things that we do and that people get inspired by it.”

But, they make the conscious choice to leave it open to interpretation as to what that meaning is for each individual who comes across their music. From the seats in the audience, looking around to the packed room, it’s clear to see that for some, a NEEDTOBREATHE concert is a religious experience. For others, it’s a great rock show with songs, lyrics, and melodies to which they can dance or sing along. The men behind the music have given license to their fans to feel how they wish to feel about their songs.

Bandmate Josh Lovelace told us that all four of them grew up with close ties to the church so the influence is there but that, for them, it’s just about honest, genuine storytelling through music and sharing their life experiences.

“Everybody wants to believe in something. So I think that people can take the music however way they want and inspires them to think of something more than themselves.”

It’s also clear to hear that their music does indeed have deep and very personal meaning for each of them. In particular, the song, “Brother.”

“Bo and I actually got into a fight that was pretty serious. We went home for a little while and said, Maybe we’re not going to do this anymore. We didn’t talk to each other for six weeks,” Bear explained.

Each brother wrote out what Bear described as “manifestos” about what each of them needed in order to continue with the music and their relationship. It was then that Bo wrote their hit song, “Brother.”

“Really it’s about that story. How can we defend each other rather than tear each other down? And obviously it’s huge. I’m ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it in some ways because, well, we’re grown men. You can get along with your brother, you know? But really it was a lesson we had to learn the hard way.”

NEEDTOBREATHE’s music addresses the full spectrum of human emotions and experiences. Some of the songs are lighter in tone, like the super-romantic “Let’s Stay Home Tonight.” They also present a universally hopeful message of striving for a better moral compass in the optimistic ballad, “More Heart, Less Attack.” These Southern soulful rockers have a little something for everybody and we like it a lot.

When you purchase the band’s latest single, “Walking on Water”, you can join the guys in their hurricane relief efforts. All of the proceeds for this song will go to Dream Center Network in partnership with OneWorld Health to help those in need after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left so many devastated.