"The title just says it," Needtobreathe lead vocalist Bear Rinehart says of his band's new album, "The Reckoning," due Sept. 20 on Atlantic. "We want to be an important band. We want to be a band that people believe in and that people are impacted by. Being a band is more than just a single on the radio, and we've developed that relationship with fans now, so we put the pressure on ourselves to deliver something that they would love."
"The Reckoning" follows the South Carolina-based rockers' 2009 release, "The Outsiders," which debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and No. 9 on the Rock Albums chart, and has sold 274,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The new album marks the first time the band--which includes Rinehart's brother Bo, drummer Joe Stillwell and bassist Seth Bolt--has recorded an entire album at its own Plantation Studios in Charleston, S.C.
Rinehart says, "We could not imagine leaving home again. We had just gotten back from being on the road for two years, so we were not going to go spend two months in L.A. trying to make a record. We had the producer, Rick Beato, and his engineer come to us, and they lived in Charleston while we recorded."
"We've never had a song in a minor key," Rinehart says, pointing to album opener "Oohs and Ahhs." Other songs include the Celtic-flavored ballad "A Place Only You Can Go," which features uilleann pipes; the acoustic-driven "White Fences"; and the gospel-influenced "Able." The album's single, "Drive All Night," is No. 30 on Billboard's Triple A radio chart, and the focal point throughout is the Rinehart brothers' soulful songwriting.
"We've looked at all of the records as a process in the journey that we've been on," Rinehart says of the band's previous releases--"Daylight" (2006), "The Heat" (2007) and "The Outsiders," all of which appeared on Atlantic. "Each record has gotten better and we've learned from the past. On this one, we put pressure on ourselves because we felt like we were at a place where we weren't trying to figure out who we were anymore. Maybe [because] we're from a small town, we had this humble thing. There was always a chip on our shoulder to prove that we belonged with the better bands."
Needtobreathe is currently opening for Taylor Swift on her "Speak Now" tour, and will spend the fall doing "secret shows" at small clubs in 10-15 markets between dates, with ticket sales announced the morning of the show. The band made its first appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Sept. 14.
"The strongest way of spreading the word is giving the fans things to be excited about," Atlantic VP of rock marketing and A&R Anthony Delia says. "All along the way they've been posting videos from inside the studio. [We've] already put a couple of songs--'Drive All Night' and 'Slumber'--[on the band's site, needtobreathe.net]. We're putting 'The Reckoning' up this week, so we'll have a good amount of the record out there."
"The Reckoning" will be available in several packages, including ones featuring a limited-edition T-shirt, a clock or a poster. "We've got our preorder campaign rolling," Delia says. "Our goal to launch a record like this is to superserve the core audience."