NEEDTOBREATHE emerges from the wasteland to the Promised Land...
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not
perceive it? I am making a way
in the wilderness and streams in
the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
All of us, from the wealthy
to the poor, the lofty to the
meek, will inevitably encounter
a wilderness season at some
point. Whether alone or with a
friend, a spouse, a Savior, our
paths in life will not bypass
Needtobreathe knows this
well. Despite marked success
in the Christian and secular
music marketplace, a tour
with Taylor Swift, appearances
on Conan and countless
accolades our world deems
important, the last few years
have been more of a desert
than an oasis.
All of this comes to the fore
on their latest album, Rivers in
Bo Rinehart shared with
just what that wasteland
has looked like and how it
spurred, quite possibly, their
most compelling music to
We’ve been going at this for a long time now.
We’re a band who’s always prided ourselves
in hitting the road, chasing down every
lead and opportunity that came along. The
season in which this record was made was
no different. We did 200-plus shows in the
last year, but it was taking its toll on us. This
record was probably the hardest one we’ve
ever made. When we started, we were in a
pretty dry place, and we knew the record
was going to be about the wasteland.
There was a lot of stuff going on, and life
was coming at us pretty fast. We started
to lose sight of what we were doing. We
had lost a little bit of inspiration and were
holding on pretty tightly to our identity as
Needtobreathe. Sometimes God uses drastic
events to teach us. We had a watershed
moment, took some time off and really
pondered what were doing and how to get
our priorities straight.
We didn’t know that God was already
doing something new, but the record
eventually became a storyline of the process.
In Isaiah, God says He is making a new thing,
putting rivers in the wasteland. The picture God was painting during the whole record
cycle eventually helped us realize our own
value in God’s eyes. We were coming to grips
with who we were and what we stood for. We
began to find our identity in Christ instead of
within what we do.
After the last record, we took some much needed
time off. We needed to push away
even though we felt there were so many
opportunities we could keep on chasing. You
can feel like if you don’t do something, you’ll
miss the opportunity. That then leads you to
thinking that it’s your own hard work that’s
going to make the difference.
Things got tense, and we got to a place
where we weren’t even communicating. After
a lot of prayer, surrender ultimately became
the catalyst of becoming free. I’m such a
tiny part of the whole process; I needed to
see and experience what God can do with or
without me. If Needtobreathe was supposed
to go on, we were on board. Once we could
see our value in Christ and in His plan and His
will, we came into one accord.
Now, we’re looking at it a lot differently.
We don’t feel like we have to take every
opportunity. God will open doors that we will
need to go through. Even when we had lost
sight, I think God was already arranging the
lyrics and songs and His plan. We’ve come to
a new understanding that, ultimately, it’s not
Sonically, there’s a little flavor of the things
we attempted on all of the previous records,
which was the original intent. We didn’t
want to rely on studio tricks; so when we got
there, the majority of the record was a live
take. Some are just first or second takes. We
wanted to have a vulnerability and rawness.
… We sound better live than on our records,
but trying to achieve that is a difficult thing.
Part of that is the vulnerability — these
details we feel like we have to fix or correct.
In the shows, any moment there could be
something a bit off. It’s hard in the studio to
live with one take that may not be the best or
perfect take; but as we were going back, we
depended on the band and the music and let
some things slide.
I love it — there’s a complete freedom in just
relying on God instead of ourselves. I feel like this process has taught us that. It brings a
certain joy and takes some of the stress off
of us. Because of that, I’m seeing eye-to-eye
with my brother and am encouraged and feel
blessed to be a part of something rather than
feeling totally responsible for it. There’s a
newness to the band. We feel refreshed. The
sky’s the limit.
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