NEEDTOBREATHE is an American rock band that will be performing with special guest Sean McConnell at Rudder Auditorium on Sunday, March 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale with $1 of each ticket going straight to the OneWorldHealth organization.
What is the origin story of NEEDTOBREATHE?
Two brothers, so obviously we grew up together, and the guys in the band we’ve known since we were kids. It really is a small town kind of garage band that’s turned into almost 18 years of music touring over a thousand shows.
Why the name “NEEDTOBREATHE?”
When we were in college we heard this story about Socrates teaching his students about water. One of the students asked how would he know if he is really doing the thing in life he’s supposed to be doing and instead of answering, Socrates ducks the students head under the water pushes him down there and kinda gasps for air. When he comes up Socrates says if you need that thing in life as much as you need to breathe that’s when you know you’re doing the right thing.
So does this band spawn that feeling for you guys?
I think back then it certainly did. I think we were looking for something more of a calling than just a business, and I think the band name says that.
What is it like to work with your brother for a living?
It’s good and bad. I mean there's tons of advantages early on, especially when we didn't have to worry about hurting each other’s feelings and we could be direct with each other and very competitive. You get to see the world with other people in your family and it’s amazing. It’s also tough because of the same reasons. Brothers fight when they’re growing up and that has continued in the business and especially with guys that write the songs together. It can make it difficult and it can bring things into the conversation that shouldn’t be there. I think we’re in a different place than we have been in the past, but that was definitely a tough place to get over.
What inspired your extremely powerful song “Brother?”
A lot of fights, a lot of late nights. We were making a record that was really tough to make at the time and thought we finished the record. We kind of fought our way through it. My brother and I hadn’t seen eye to eye in a couple of years and let some things personally get out of hand. We weren’t really talking to each other and had this big fight. We sort of got back together and decided that if we were going to be in this band, we needed to be brothers first and in the band second, and I think that sort of idea spawned the song.
When writing your 2016 album “H A R D L O V E,” you guys went to a secluded area in North Carolina. Why?
When we first were making records, we were in the band all the time. We were doing 200 shows a year and were just together all the time. Now everyone has their families and goes their own way when they go off tour, so it was really a way to get back in the garage. We had a mountain house and basically went up there and got somebody to come in and cook for us so we didn’t have to leave. We would just go there 10 days at a time and not leave, and it really felt like when we first started, when we had to work in our bass player’s dad's garage.
Who has been your musical role model?
I think Springsteen is a pretty good role model. We had a chance to meet him and just a really humble person. You’ll have a hard time finding somebody who’s met him and not said he’s a great guy or a great hang and I think that's important to us. Especially a career band like we are, we know we'll be here 10 years from now and for a long time, we want people to have that experience with you on a different level.
You guys have millions of fans and have had to expand your tour because it sold out too quickly. How does it feel to have made it in a tough industry?
It feels amazing. I think we talk about that a lot. We’re really aware of what it's like because it was so hard to get here. We weren’t an overnight success, it was like every year we were slightly bigger, and having toured the band for so long and having f----- around at clubs for so long, when you get to sell out Red Rocks [Amphitheatre] or go on the tours we’re on now it’s pretty amazing. We try to be as thankful of that as possible.
What’s something that you do for entertainment when on the road for tours?
I play some golf to get outside. I suck at golf but I like to stay out in the sun, and it’s the only sport that forces you outside for three or four hours.
You have a great relationship with OneWorldHealth, an organization focused on giving healthcare to developing countries. What was the start of your relationship with them?
The guys that started it organization are from Charleston, where we were living for 10 years and my wife is a nurse practitioner. It's a medical mission where they build health clinics in Uganda and Nicaragua so she was like, ‘Let’s go on a trip to see what its about.’ So I went to Africa and was so blown away by the organization and their long term plan so I came back and said, ‘We have to do something.’ One thing led to another and we started a golf tournament and started to give a dollar of all the tickets and we've done a bunch of promo stuff. Our fans have raised over $2 million for OneWorldHealth over the last several years.
You guys have been categorized as a Christian rock band but have been moving away from that label. Why?
I think when we first started the band we never wanted to be categorized as anything. I remember a lot of people were asking us when our first record came out all those years ago if we were an emo band. … We said we were a rock ‘n’ roll band. I think the last thing you want to do when you are a creative band is find a niche and stay there. We were like we want to be able to make every record different … and be like artists like Jack White, you know, kind of come out with whatever, and the fans would trust them to go on that journey. I think that was important for us. It seemed to limiting to have any one genre claim us as their own.
What has been the craziest thing to happen to you guys since your journey began?
I think the craziest thing is that we were kids when we got in this band and our only goal was to do this for the rest of our lives. I think the craziest thing is that this turned into a real job and we haven’t had another job in the last 15 years and that absolutely blows us away everyday.
What’s next for you guys?
We’re working on a new record so that will definitely be the next step and I think we’ll go out and do a big tour next year. Another sort of amphitheater, arena tour. So up and up, it’s going to be fun.