After dropping their massive debut album Disgusting back in 2014, Beartooth spent last year enjoying one hell of a victory lap as they dominated festivals and tore up the road with the likes of Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon. They exploded into the metal scene, and Caleb Shomo found a new voice and lease of life after he parted ways with former band Attack Attack.
Well, they may be off the road, but the brakes are not on - the band are already back in the studio. So as we look ahead to what 2016 has in store, we catch up with Shomo to talk about his state of mind, their next record, Beartooth fans and his favourite new music.
You said that Disgusting was written to 'get your head on straight' - where would you say that your head is at now that the album's been out for a year and so greatly received?
"I feel great, I just feel way better. I’m glad that we’ve toured it so much because I’m at the point now where we’ve played the songs so many times that in no way is it weird for me to play them - emotionally, I’ve very much gotten over all that shit I was going through. Life's good, everything’s good."
You said you just wanted to write 'honest songs that wouldn't change the world' - does that sudden release of energy feel cathartic in any way?
"It was good, it was amazing. I mean, the whole record cycle so far has really helped me keep my head on. I’m just writing songs for me to get my emotions out, at least Disgusting, that was the whole point of that album so I’m feeling much better."
Disgusting is amazing and received some pretty great reviews. How would you describe progress on new material since then?
"I have a good bit of stuff done, I have four songs finished right now and about nine in total that I’m working on. The touring is all wrapped up and now our only priority is finishing the new album. Already I think the stuff I’ve written is a lot better than the first record so I just can’t wait to get it out. Very excited about it."
So do you think we can hear the new album soon?
"Yeah. We’re not positive when but as soon as we can. The reality is we’re just finishing it now but we’ll get it out as soon as we can. I just hope we can release a single soon or something, I’m itching for people to hear the new stuff. I think I want people to hear our new stuff for the time in their car jammin’ it or in headphones. I want them to hear the recording first and be able to soak that in - rather than at a show and be like ‘Hey, we’re gonna play a new song that none of you know and you’re gonna stand there for three minutes and stare at us - and then we’ll play one you know and you’ll have more fun!’"
What is the writing process like for you and Beartooth?
"I have a studio in my house. Honestly, i just go down whenever I’m bored and just write. It changes a lot, sometimes I’ll write vocals first and then write guitar to that. But sometimes I’ll write riffs, track drums and get a whole song mapped out and then do the vocals. It varies but because I’ve written so many Beartooth songs and so many songs in general I’ll usually do instrumental first then kinda write vocals, then go back and maybe change the instrumental to compliment the vocals afterwards. It’s just easier to write vocals when you have something to write to."
You've been very busy recently with yours across the USA with Slipknot and Atreyu. That must have been incredible. How was it working with them? Do you think you learned anything that you will take forward?
"Yeah, that was fun. The way Slipknot run their shows, like behind the scenes, is better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Their crew are all very, very nice, everybody was super welcoming and it just ran smoothly every day. It was super cool, I definitely learned a lot from them. If some day we’re at the point where we’re doing bigger production shows - how to run it."
You've also been touring Europe with Bring Me The Horizon. We love them, but they've come under fire from old school fans who say they've diluted their essence and 'aren't metal' any more - how would you respond to that having seen them play live every night?
"I think they're just doing what they want to do you know and I fully respect that. Live, their songs are all amazing, the new ones are super cool. I think the new record (That's The Spirit) is amazing. I wasn’t a diehard old school Bring Me fan but for me as a listener they’re great songs and they did very well with the new record."
You were with them at the end of the European tour. You didn’t play Belgium because of the attacks in Paris. How was that for you as a band and for the genre of music?
"I mean, it’s just weird. It sucks more than anything I can imagine. The fact that it happened at a metal show is heartbreaking, the fact that it happened at all is just absolutely insane to me. It definitely changed the energy around everybody, especially at the last show - it was in Tilburg in the Netherlands and it was crazy - the security there, they brought in some really serious security, armed guards all over the place. It was intense but the show happened and everyone was safe and that’s all we care about. Something like Paris, that tragedy is miserable."
Your previous band, Attack Attack! experienced it's time in the limelight. Was it hard to walk away from that and move in the Beartooth direction instead?
"The hardest part was actually quitting, I knew I needed to quit but the hardest part was bringing myself to it. Even though it was messing me up in a lot of ways it was comfortable, it was what I knew, I had been in that band since I was 14 so it was weird to leave. Honestly, it’s the single best decision I’ve made in my life when it comes to music so I never regret it, not one day of my life."
How was it essentially growing up in a band?
"It’s crazy. You learn and grow up quick, you have to, you know? You’re on the road and you’ve got to take care of yourself, you don’t have parents there to tell you right and wrong, you’ve got to figure yourself out. It’s like growing up anywhere but a bit more intense."
What do you think your fans expect of you?
"Hmm. I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it. With Beartooth I just wanted to make my own music you know, and I grew up, I grew into liking different genres. When the old Attack Attack! stuff was written I was between the ages of 14 and 16 for the first two records. I feel like you’re music taste changes a lot between the ages of 14 to 18 or 19 and I grew up and got into different stuff - that’s why Beartooth sounds so different."
On the flipside, what do you think the greatest misconception about you might be?
"I think a lot of people think we’re a hardcore band, maybe it’s an American thing. We love hardcore and punk and metal and all that but we don’t classify ourselves in any sort of genre really, we’re just a band. We don’t have a stigma of ‘we’ll play with this band, but not with them ‘cos it’s ‘not cool’’. I think a lot of people think that Attack Attack! was not a ‘cool’ band to like for a lot of people, so they think I’m trying to act ‘cool’ or something, I dunno, I couldn’t really give a shit less! I just want to play music and I don’t care at all about politics in music, who gives a shit, just play!"
What upcoming rock bands would you tip for huge things in 2016?
"PVRIS - I think they’re gonna be one of the biggest bands in the world, I’ve said this to a lot of people and I know a lot of people feel that way and for good reason. Just getting off the tour with them - they’re amazing, they put on an incredible live show, Lynn’s voice is perfect every single night and they’re songs are great. I’m curious to hear their new stuff."
What other music are you hooked on at the moment?
"The newest Slayer album is really awesome. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cowboys From Hell from Pantera, that’s a great record. Nathaniel Rateliffe and the Night Sweats, look them up, they’re sick. They’re like a folky, old ‘50s rock ’n’ roll thing, they’re getting huge."
Have those bands influenced the move from Attack Attack! to Beartooth?
"Yeah, definitely. I got into more metal and hardcore and punk and rock ’n’ roll while I was in Attack Attack!, so I just wanted to play in a band where I enjoyed the music, really enjoyed. I genuinely do love Beartooth’s music, I love the songs, I have fun playing them every night."