Conversation: Bear Rinehart
Power chords and touchdowns
Bear and Bo Rinehart grew up in an Assemblies of God minister's home in South Carolina. They now co-lead the up-and-coming Christian band Need to Breathe. In college, Bear found himself leading a double-packed life, dividing his time between football and music. Though on a football scholarship, Bear started Need to Breathe his first year of college with his friend Joe Stillwell, the band's drummer. Bo and friend Seth Bolt came on board, giving the music its current distinctive. While traversing Nebraska en route to weekend shows with Jars of Clay in the Dakotas, Bear Rinehart spoke to Jennifer McClure, assistant editor.
tpe: With your involvement in college football and the band, it sounds like life in college was pretty crazy.
RINEHART: It was definitely busy. Furman University (Greenville, S.C.) is a difficult school academically. The band was playing, and we were playing football 120 times a year with games and practices. I was on a football scholarship, so that's a pretty serious deal. It has to be your first priority. It was quite hectic.
tpe: If you hadn't had that scholarship, would you have gone to that college?
RINEHART: Probably not. It was a pretty expensive school. My dad's a pastor, so we wouldn't have had the funds to do it. But it was close by and very well respected and academically had high standards, so when I got the scholarship offer it was kind of a no-brainer.
tpe: When did you decide to pursue music?
RINEHART: I was probably about 16. I started playing the guitar at church and learning worship songs. Honestly, the first couple times I got three or four chords together and it sounded like a song, that's when I got hooked. It was probably two or three months after I started playing guitar I started writing songs and had a band within four or five months. I've been doing it ever since.
tpe: Coming from a very musically talented family, it's interesting you and Bo never really pursued music until you were older.
RINEHART: It was weird because my mom was a piano teacher and my dad went to college on a music scholarship — he plays the trumpet. Actually, our sister was the great musician growing up. She played piano, flute and cello. Bo and I were into athletics growing up, and in a way didn't really have time for music. We've always loved music. I don't know what it was, but for some reason the practice time wasn't there.
tpe: What was it like to live at the campgrounds your parents owned?
RINEHART: That was great. We grew up in this little town of Possum Kingdom, S.C. Dad and Mom ran a church camp, and hundreds of kids came in during the summer. We were homeschooled and had most of the day free after school. There was a lake, a pool, a gymnasium and a water slide, but basically all year we kind of goofed off at a campground, which was really nice. Plus, being surrounded by kids during the summer from all parts of the country was a learning experience and helped culture us in a way.
tpe: How has your relationship with Jesus influenced your music?
RINEHART: Pretty much in every way. We don't really go into records thinking we're going to write songs about God or we're not going to write them about God, but because we are Christians it basically comes out in all the circumstances we talk about. God is such a big part of our lives that those things come out in the songs all the time.
tpe: What was the inspiration behind one of your worship songs?
RINEHART: On the new record there's a song called ÒSignature Divine.Ó I was thinking about how the cathedrals and some of the greatest works of art that have ever been made were actually meant to glorify God. The first line of the song says, ÒCathedrals have tried in vain to show the image of your face, but we are, by Your design, the signature of divine.Ó So many people have tried to show God in art, but we are, as Christians, the best reflection of God there is.
tpe: How long have you known Seth Bolt (bass player) and Joe Stillwell?
RINEHART: Since I was about 10. We all kind of went different paths growing up a little bit. We didn't get together playing in the band until we were in college, but we had all had different bands. Seth had a band in high school. Our band played his band in a battle of the bands in high school, and they won. So that's kind of funny. He reminds us about that every once in a while.
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