American Hardcore/Metal Band Beartooth Talk New Album ‘Disease’
Frontman Caleb Shomo on working out of his basement in Columbus, Ohio and his time with erstwhile metalcore outfit Attack Attack!
In perhaps what seemed like a lifetime ago to most, Columbus, Ohio-based producer, keyboardist and vocalist Caleb Shomo was an adolescent in a metal band called Attack Attack! His bandmate on their breakout album Someday Came Suddenly (2008) was none other than vocalist Austin Carlile, who went on to join metallers Of Mice & Men.
Shomo was all of 14 years old when his band began charting on Billboard 200, but within four years, he left Attack Attack! addressing depression and mental health issues. The 25-year-old says, “It was important to leave Attack Attack! to make sure I do something I truly believed in. When you start a project so young, things are going to change in terms of your musical taste and what you want to achieve.”
Beartooth was that outlet for Shomo, a band in which he remains the principal songwriter and musician. On their third album Disease, there’s still a dark, negative energy that runs through their brand of arena-ready metal and hardcore. Shomo says he was channeling most of what he felt while on the road during the promo tour for their 2016 album Aggressive. A U.S. tour followed by a European tour in the winter meant that Shomo underwent “seasonal depression.” He adds, “We were out in Europe and I was having a really hard time – I started feeling a lot of negative things coming into my head that I haven’t felt in a long time. It was pretty scary. There I decided what I was going to make the record about and came up with the title Disease. It’s kind of gone from there.”
Watch the video for “Disease” below
Disease does have its moments of catharsis, but for the most part, it channels a lot of molten riffs over Shomo’s anguished post-hardcore screams, blended with plenty of breakdowns. There are a few brighter spots like “Believe,” led by bright radio-friendly hooks, but Beartooth sound best when they’re pissed off. Bringing out that sound was celebrated producer Nick Raskulinecz, who’s worked with everyone from Foo Fighters to Deftones to Alice In Chains and Trivium. Shomo recalls that the first time they met, it was just about talking and jamming music. “We talked about rock ‘n roll and I knew this was the kind of guy I wanted to make some music with. He really brought a ton to the table in just knowing what songs are going to work with each other and what parts are going to work with each other and really just shape the album.”
The songs originated in a familiar place, though; Shomo’s basement studio in Columbus is where most of Beartooth’s past and current material has been written. Does it matter that it’s in his hometown? Shomo says, “Columbus does have a lot to offer, it’s a great city and cool food and bars, great music venues… I’ve still got family that lives in Columbus and there’s something special to me about having a home studio in a place I grew up, that takes me back to the times I first started writing music. All I wanted to do was be all alone and create music in my basement.”
Of course writing, recording and releasing is only one half of the deal. Beartooth have just kicked off their month-long Disease Tour through the U.S. and have a Europe tour supporting U.K.’s celebrated metallers Architects starting in January. With three albums in the bag, Shomo says one big change on these tours is their setlist, which has now expanded to become and hour and 40 minutes. “We’re playing a whole lot more songs and integrating more stuff to differentiate the live show from the album and that’s all really important,” the vocalist says.
Compared to his days with Attack Attack! Shomo still has chart success to beam about, considering Disease has amassed over four million streams and topped Hard Music Album and Independent Album charts, reaching number 40 on the Top 200. And what’s the best setting to hear an album as demented as Disease? Shomo says with a laugh, “Just by yourself with headphones on in a quiet room or a really nice pair of speakers with the lights down, maybe put on a red light and just chill out.”
Listen to ‘Disease’ via Red Bull Records below.