The band from South Carolina share their thoughts on music, faith and loving your neighbour.
In my home country of Australia, we are holding our breath because NEEDTOBREATHE have just dived downunder for the first time. And I was there ready to meet lead singer Bear Rinehart and ask about the new version of the song “Brother” featuring Gavin Degraw, their exciting Tour de Compadres, and how young people can fight for social justice.
What do you think of Australia so far? On Facebook, I saw that you guys took a photo with the Sydney Opera House.
We don’t mind being the dorky tourists. The first time around, we have to do some of that stuff.
You’ve just released a new version of your song “Brother” featuring Gavin Degraw. How did you end up collaborating with Gavin?
We toured together five or six years ago and I’ve always thought his voice would sound great on one of our songs. We’ve always been a fan of his. And I had his phone number still in my phone from back then, and I hadn’t talked to him by the way in at least three or four years. And I just texted him and said, “Man, this song just means a lot to us, it’s about my brother, and we’ve been going through all this stuff”. And I was like, “Would you think about considering?” and he was like, “Man, send me the song, I’ve got a brother”. He just got the story right away. And he called me back three minutes later and he was like, “I’m there, whatever it takes. Let’s do it”. And so it was really quick, within maybe a couple of weeks we had it recorded. And he crushed it – he wrote this great bridge, we had this great song for around a year and I was always trying to write a bridge and never could quite get it.
On your Tour de Compadres, you’ve got some really exciting people touring with you …
It’s insane. We’ve always wanted to do this, you know, I guess everyone wants to do that – take your friends on tour. We’ve toured with pretty much everybody on this thing. Colony House is a new band but they’re great. Ben Rector and Drew Holcomb we’ve toured with before. And Switchfoot we’ve always talked about touring together, it’s just the first time that’s really seemed to work out so we’re stoked about that, it should be a lot of fun.
What can people expect from Tour de Compadres?
We’re having more fun than we’ve ever had. We’ve always been a loud band, it’s always been what we do, what we’re proud of. I would expect more of the same if you’ve ever seen the band. If you haven’t seen us, there’s a ton of energy. We try to make as many mistakes as we can, we try to make every night different and unique – try to let the fans know they play a part in the night, it’s not just the same every time. And I think with this tour coming up, it gives us a ton of opportunities to collaborate with other people – we’ll have the guys from Switchfoot up and play some songs together. I think it’ll be a bit of a freefall, but in a great way. So it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
You’re here touring with Third Day on World Vision’s Make a Difference tour. It’s the first night of the first year of this tour. Can you tell us a bit about the tour – why you got involved and what it hopes to achieve?
We’ve always been fans of what World Vision does throughout the world, not just here. So as soon as they called we were like, “Okay, how can we be involved?”. So I think we’re here in a couple of ways – we’re trying to raise money for World Vision, we’re trying to raise awareness about various causes that World Vision helps with. From sex trafficking to feeding the hungry and renewable resources and a bunch of different things that they do, their organisation is absolutely massive and crazy what they’re able to achieve around the world. And Third Day we toured with like ten years ago, they were one of the first bands that let us go on tour with them, and taught us a lot about it and were really nice to us early on, and we’ve stayed friends ever since, so it’s good to be back out on the road with them. And we had never been [to Australia] so there were like a million things about it when they called and said “Do you want to come down?” that it made sense so we’re thrilled to be part of it.
Bear, you and Seth went to Uganda a few months ago to help out at the Palmetto Medical Initiative. Can you tell us a bit about your experience?
Yeah it was my second time to go there, it’s crazy. We donate a dollar from each ticket at every concert we ever do. We try to raise money however we can and create a way to get our fans involved. And what [the Palmetto Medical Initiative] do is sustainable medical care. They built a clinic there, staffed by Ugandans, and treat like 1200 people a month. I’ve gotten to see the very beginnings of it when they were first building the clinic and now they’ve added an OB ward and a surgery ward, it’s crazy. They’re doing that now in Burundi and Nicaragua. It’s really exciting to be a part of. We were just part of the mobile medical clinic so we went with a bunch of doctors and nurses, we were kind of the lackies for that. We lifted the heavy boxes and checked patients in and took their heights and weights. It was an incredible experience.
You’re all Christians in the band. Does your faith influence you to take part in things like the Make a Difference tour and the Palmetto Medical Initiative?
I think it definitely does. I think for Christians it’s a definite pull. I mean, we’re called to feed the hungry and bring water to the thirsty. And obviously there’s opportunities then to share your faith with other people. But I think it’s so important that marriage of having a purpose and something to go for and developing a real relationship with people and show them you love them.
How can teenagers with little money and maybe limited transportation help others less fortunate in the world?
Man, I say start close to you. I think there’s under-served all around us. I think sometimes it’s easy for people to go, “I want to go on this mission trip to Africa but I’m going to walk past my neighbour who needs my help”. I think your love for people starts with loving the people who are closest to you, even your family, your parents. That’s just as important as going a long way away. And if you can’t love those people who are close to you, it doesn’t make any difference if you can go far away. So, I would say start with the people around you and try to be a servant to the people that you work with and live with and God will bless that for sure.
For tickets to the Make a Difference tour Feb 11-21: http://www.makeadifferencetour.com.au
For tickets to the Tour de Compadres visit: http://www.needtobreathe.com/tour