By Brian Ives
NEEDTOBREATHE surprised longtime fans with the sound of their new album, Hard Love, which shows the rock band experimenting with beats and synthesizers (which you can hear on the single, “Happiness”). It’s sort of their Actung Baby moment, and in an interview with Radio.com, the band agreed that the classic 1991 U2 album was something of a touchstone for their new sound.
Guitarist Bo Rinehart says, “[Bruce] Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love was another example,” noting that that 1987 album seemed like a big departure from Springsteen’s earlier catalog. “And you go back and listen to that record, it’s an amazing record.”
As far as the backlash for sounding different, Bo says, “He survived it. And I think he had to make that record, and U2 had to make that record and do something different.” Similarly, the band say that they needed to try something different this time around.
Singer/guitarist Bear Rinehart admits, “It’s a little bit scary, to put something out that’s that different. I don’t think we chose it, it kind of chose us. The last record was really stripped down and acoustic, [it was] live takes, old school. And it was partly because we were fighting; we wrote the songs separately. [On] This record, we’re in a completely different place, we got to spend a lot of time [together], we got a mountain house, and had a vision quest. We woodshedded, like we did back in the day. We put in a lot of the synth, and the beats; [it was] the opposite of what we were doing before. It felt fresh to us, and different. We didn’t really think about being scared about it until it was all done.”
Bo adds, “A couple of weeks before the release of the record, all of our families were telling us, ‘This does not sound like you guys at all.'”
While they were actually recording the album, it didn’t feel like such a departure, Bear says. “It’s like, when you see someone growing up, you don’t really notice it [the changes], if you see them every day. But yeah, that was the first sort of freak-out moment that we had; playing it for friends and they were like, ‘Whoa!’ But we’re proud of it and the reaction’s been amazing.”
However, it’s not as much of a departure as some think, according to Bear: “People thought because we had banjos on the albums, and we’re from South Carolina, that that’s what we grew up playing, and it wasn’t. I remember the day we wrote this record The Outsiders, I had just gone and picked up a bunch of redneck instruments. At the time, those were really fresh and new to us. None of really knew how to play them that well. So, it’s interesting to us when people say, ‘It’s so different, because what you do is this,’ and it’s like, ‘Well, we did that because it felt new and fresh at the time.’ We’re absolute idiots on the computer with programming and all that stuff.”
Bass player Seth Bolt jokes, “We just got computers in South Carolina!”
Keyboardist Josh Lovelace pitches in: “And running water!”
Bear Rinehart concludes, “Good songs can be dressed up in different ways, and with some records the goal is some kind of timelessness, but ours was more timely. We play them different live, anyway.”