Josh Lovelace, keyboardist and vocalist for Needtobreathe, a Christian Southern rock band, started in music as a toddler. At three years old he was standing on boxes, singing to his mother’s officemates. He started writing songs in elementary school and took his craft seriously.
“I really wanted to make it, and now I look back on it and I actually did,” Lovelace recalled. “For me, it’s like a full circle thing — to be able to still do it at 36 years old. I have videos of singing on stage when I was two years old, so I’ve been singing on stage for 34 years. It’s pretty crazy if you think of it that way.”
After a two-year break, Needtobreathe — along with Switchfoot and The New Respects — is preparing for an “Into the Mystery Tour,” which kicks off Sept. 7 in St. Louis, Missouri, and finishes in Atlanta, Georgia, at the end of October.
‘Bigger and better’
“Our band’s been touring for a very long time and are pulling from seven or eight records of materials to condense into an hour-45-to-two-hour show,” Lovelace said. “In March or April of this year we kinda started figuring out what we’re gonna do. We pick which songs we want to play and which songs we know the fans will be mad if we don’t play.
“Most of us are dads and so we’re like, ‘Oh no, now we’ve got to get in shape because we’ve got to run around on stage for our 40 shows,’” Lovelace laughed. “Preparing for that part is something that we are having to do, just because we’re old. That’s just the truth.”
According to Lovelace, this tour is going to be bigger and better than any before. The short-list is about 32 songs and includes some medleys. Describing it as “very intense,” they also have some surprises in store,” he said.
“We’re really excited to finally get back out there. When the pandemic hit … you kind of wonder if we would get to do this part of our job ever again. Every night we’re going to give more energy than we ever have. This tour is going to be pretty epic.”
“Into the Mystery,” Needtobreathe’s latest album, presents a mystery in the title song’s video, which opens with a statement about quarantining together and that the band “did something we can truly say we’ve never done before.”
Lovelace solved the mystery: The entire album was recorded during the quarantine.
“Instead of sitting around waiting for the world to open back up, we decided that we would all quarantine together for three weeks and make a record. We’ve never done anything like that,” Lovelace said. “It was a little bit of a crazy undertaking for us to come in and feel confident about the songs we were bringing in.
“Our band always takes a long time to make records. For us to get it done in three weeks, that was the goal. The goal was never to make a polished masterpiece. It was, ‘Let’s time-capsule this moment … right now.’
“It ended up being something we’re really as proud of as any other record that we’ve ever done,” Lovelace added, “because we all were on the same page, we worked hard together, and I feel that we made something that is one of our most beautiful collections of songs that we’ve ever done.”
The name “Needtobreathe” comes from a story attributed to Socrates, quoted on a t-shirt the band sells: “When you desire wisdom and insight as badly as you need to breathe, it is then you shall have it.”
‘Most rewarding thing’
Lovelace’s solo career reflects his role as a father. Writing songs so his children could hear his voice while touring, he later released them on his album “Young Folk,” winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. This was followed by, “Growing Up.”
“It has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of because my kids love it and still sing some of the songs,” Lovelace said. “There are kids and families all over the world who are sending me messages that say, ‘I actually like it. I don’t hate it. I’m not annoyed by your kids record. We can listen to it together.’
“That’s as important as anything I’ll ever do in the band — bringing families together and hopefully [making] families smile and love each other a little bit deeper.”
Lovelace feels fortunate that he gets to balance being a father, husband and band member who is constantly getting better at his craft.
”Our band has always been about honesty. I don’t have it all together, and I don’t know all that I’m doing, but it’s good to ask the question. We never set out to teach anybody anything. But we definitely want to inspire and offer hope and an escape from a crazy world.
“It’s the best job in the world and an honor for us that we get to carry that to a world that’s really scary and hard to understand sometimes.”