Caleb Shomo dishes on newcomer punk band Beartooth
By Eli Enis
It’s been quite the year for Beartooth. The band released their debut album “Disgusting” to widespread acclaim, performed during Vans Warped Tour, headlined their own tours in Europe and the U.S., and are now finishing up the year on tour with two of the scene’s most notable acts, Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens. However, this is just the beginning for the Columbus Ohio five-piece.
Founded in 2012 by Caleb Shomo after his departure from “electronic-core” poster boys Attack Attack!, Beartooth is essentially a one-man-band that’s rounded out by four other touring musicians on the live circuit. Shomo records every instrument including guitars, bass, and drums, as well as performing all of the vocals, and is responsible for nearly all of the production that goes into Beartooth’s music.
The result is an extraordinarily harmonious blend of raw, unchained anger and infectious melody that will undoubtedly knock you to your knees before seamlessly picking you back up. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what genre Beartooth falls into as they simultaneously verge on both straight up hardcore and melodic-metalcore. However, their Facebook page proclaims themselves as “Loud,” which is probably their simplest and most accurate classification.
Their unique sound has resulted in them building a reputation as a versatile touring band as they’ve toured with a wide variety of acts. Their current tour mates, Pierce the Veil and Sleeping With Sirens, lean towards poppy post-hardcore, whereas their fall headliner featured support from melodic-hardcore act Vanna and deathcore tinged metalcore group Sirens & Sailors. However, Shomo explained from his dressing room in Albany that they’re perfectly happy remaining as ambiguous as they are now.
“We’re just going with the flow. We do what we do,” he said with a laugh. “We’re definitely not trying to become a band in any particular scene. We just wanna play cool shows with our friends.”
However, out of all the tours Beartooth have been a part of there’s one that stands out most to Shomo.
“Our U.S. headliner,” he said. “Just amazing bands, amazing people in the bands, great shows, it was perfect.”
That tour, which featured support from the aforementioned Vanna and Sirens & Sailors as well as Sylar and Alive Like Me, was booked in smaller, more intimate venues whereas their current tour is booked in large, arena-size venues. Both types of tours provide a much different experience for both the fans and the bands.
“I’d probably say we feel more comfortable in the smaller venues where everyone can just be in your face, but I don’t feel uncomfortable at all doing a tour like this,” said Shomo. “It’s just different. A completely different experience,” he said.
But no matter what the venue size, Beartooth’s shows have become notorious throughout the scene for supplying a raucous atmosphere. Shomo prides himself on his band’s ability to make a lasting impression on his concert goers by delivering a rowdy performance.
“Man, (a Beartooth show) is wild. It’s very very crazy,” he said with a snicker. “You go and you let loose and sing until your voice is gone and sweat buckets and have the time of your life,” he said proudly.
However, despite all of the energy the band puts forth while playing it’s really the songs themselves that incite the riotous behavior amongst fans. Beartooth’s songs are seemingly designed to provide the soundtrack for an angsty youth’s spontaneous outpour of pent-up-rage, eliciting violent thrashing, unruly crowd-surfing, and throat piercing imitations of Shomo’s signature shrill. “Disgusting,” Beartooth’s debut album released through Red Bull Records this past June, contains all of the tools necessary to carry out that very sequence of actions. Five months after its release, Shomo still feels the same way about it as he did in June.
“I still love it. I’m real proud of it and I’m glad that it’s getting a good response,” he said. “It’s really cool to be able to play the songs every day and still love them just as much as when I first wrote them,” he said.
Shomo began writing the songs immediately after his sudden departure from Attack Attack! in 2012. Attack Attack! were a pioneer of the “electronic-core” genre, which combined elements of metalcore with techno synths and overtly auto-tuned clean vocals, during the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. However, Shomo’s influences for Beartooth are clearly different and they certainly carry over into the songs.
“Bands like Billy Talent and Comeback Kid [as well as] hardcore and punk music were influences,” he said. “Some old rock and roll bands like ‘The Temptations’ and the Motown era are something that I really take influence from vocally,” he continued.
His wide variety of influences contributed to the expansive amount of diversity found on “Disgusting.” Songs such as “Keep Your American Dream,” “In Between,” and “One More” are significantly more melodic than the ferocious “Dead,” “Body Bag” and “I Have a Problem.” However, Shomo doesn’t look at the two styles as any different.
“To me it’s all kind of the same, it’s just different sides of it,” he said. “I love things with melody and things you can sing along to and I love angry, aggressive music. Whatever I’m feeling that day is what I write,” he said.
Shomo’s writing process is also something special, considering he writes every part of every song. He cites that feeling of independence and disconnect as his favorite part about being in Beartooth.
“I love being able to write the songs by myself and not have any preconceived notion of what it should sound like,” he said. “Beartooth in itself is just me writing songs by myself in my basement to like get my negative emotion out and I love having that freedom,” he said.
It’s pretty unconventional in this scene to be doing what Shomo has done with Beartooth. Most bands spend time writing their music together, and even if there is one sole writer the other members will at least contribute their respective parts in the studio. However, Shomo’s prodigious abilities have defied the status quo and have produced one of the finest albums as well as one of the most exciting live acts of 2014.
And as for 2015, Shomo delightedly affirmed the obvious speculation.
“Touring. Tons of touring,” he chuckled.