A Q & A with NEEDTOBREATHE'S Seth Bolt
Daniel Island has been a frequent stop for southern rockers NEEDTOBREATHE over the years. As they’ve grown as a band, they’ve always kept the island close, making it the home of their annual charity golf tournament, the NEEDTOBREATHE Classic, and regularly performing in the area.
In honor of their upcoming gig at the Volvo Car Stadium on October 7, The Daniel Island News spoke with bassist Seth Bolt about the band’s new music and their love for the local Charleston scene.
The Daniel Island News (DIN): So what’s been happening with the band lately?
Seth Bolt (SB): We are currently on tour with JOHNNYSWIM, our headlining tour. That’s what’s bringing us back to Charleston on (October 7). The next music we’re releasing is a live acoustic album. It’s recordings from our first ever live acoustic tour, part of which was recorded in Charleston at the Charleston Music Hall. We played three nights there, and this is our first acoustic album release. And that will be coming out in about a month.
DIN: Are these going to be original songs that no one has heard before or are they going to be covers of older songs?
SB: It’s all from our catalogue, with the exception of a couple of covers that we tie into the show. Like, after our song “No Excuses,” we go into a really haunting cover of “House of the Rising Sun.” And our singer, Bear Rinehart, absolutely destroys it. He’s got such a strong powerful voice, and that’s amazing. That’s one of the highlights.
DIN: Why did you choose this collection of original songs to perform acoustically?
SB: We’ve always wanted to do a stripped down version of our favorite songs that we’ve written, kind of like an acoustic greatest hits record. Because we started playing music when we were kids on acoustic guitars, these songs were written primarily on acoustic guitars. We thought it’d be great to basically strip away all of the production and give ourselves essentially nothing to hide behind. We would walk out on stage each night knowing it’s only going to be as good as we make it. But, that was a great challenge for us and a growth point for us, and I think something that we do well. We really enjoy it, and the fans love it.
DIN: What songs did you guys choose for that?
SB: We picked songs that have been on the radio. There’s a good mix. It’s actually songs from almost every record that we’ve released, just our favorite songs from each one. “Drive All Night,” “White Fences,” we did do a cover of “Stand By Me,” “No Excuses,” “Testify.”
DIN: You guys have seen much more mainstream success as the years have gone on. How does that feel?
SB: We love it. We love having anyone take interest in our music and it feels great. Our goal always was to just make the most honest music we can and get it in front of the most people as we can. And that part’s been great, but the bigger lesson we’ve learned is to not really worry about quantifying success in terms of a chart position on the radio or anything like that, because so much of that is out of our control. Honestly, that stuff can drive us crazy, watching it, getting really emotional about how well something’s doing or not. A couple years ago, we decided that part was kind of unhealthy and now we just focus all of our energy into just making the best art, the best music we can, without so much of a means to an end. And I think we’re better because of it. The music becomes more pure and it seems to connect on a deeper level than when we were chasing radio success.
DIN: On your 2016 album “Hard Love,” you did a collaboration with Charleston natives Shovels and Rope. Do you hope to bring more exposure to the Charleston music scene?
SB: Absolutely. The Charleston music scene is what made us move from Upstate South Carolina to Charleston 10 years ago. Everyone in the band loved the band Jump, Little Children. There’s a lot of cool music coming out of Charleston. It’s sort of unapologetic about having its own flavor and its own thing to say, and sort of an irreverence towards pop music and mainstream music. We love Shovels and Rope, we love Band of Horses, we have a ton of favorite bands from the Charleston area. We really enjoyed working with them, when we collaborated with Shovels and Rope on “Great Night.” Actually, we worked with Michael [Trent] from Shovels and Rope on the pre-production for our entire fifth album “Rivers in the Wasteland.”
DIN: Do you guys stay connected to some of the artists from Charleston?
SB: Every now and then. I know Bear and Bo [Rinehart] wrote with Jay Clifford, the singer from Jump, Little Children maybe a year or so ago. And I’ve had some jam sessions with the bass player from Jump, Little Children. I remember every day, going to school, listening to their records when I was first able to drive my own car, just basically studying everything they did, so being in a room playing music with them is pretty surreal.
DIN: Your music has changed considerably from the first album. Can you give us a hint of what the next original album will sound like?
SB: I don’t think I can. In so many ways, we don’t know yet. We’re trying to make music more kind of like the way we did when we were a garage band, before we had a record deal. Literally, we would follow what inspired us and if that meant a rock song, great, if that meant a ballad, great. It wasn’t necessarily a formula or a mold that we were trying to force the music onto. And, lately we enjoy that the most. We’re blessed to have fans that have given us total freedom to enjoy that and explore the landscape that’s possible with music. I think, that means sometimes that means the songs are going to sound very right now, with electronic instruments, and sometimes there might not be any electronic instruments at all, it’s totally just us performing acoustic guitars in the room. It’s always been a mixed bag for us and I think we love that, and we’re appreciative that we get to do that, and I think it will continue to be that way.
DIN: Do you have any idea when either of the two albums are coming out?
SB: The acoustic album, I believe that drops in October or November. That’s coming out really soon. We’ve already started recording for the next full-length album and we’ve probably got half of it, and we’re going to work on it more over the winter. Next year, we’re touring pretty heavily, so I do not have a date for you on when the next album will come out, but we definitely have the material.
For more information on the band, or tickets to the upcoming NEEDTOBREATHE show at Volvo Car Stadium, visit http://www.needtobreathe.com.