‘All kinds of loud crazy music starts off in people’s basements': an interview with Caleb Shomo from Beartooth

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Beartooth is one of the bands that rose from the ashes of Ohio-based electronic metalcore outfit Attack Attack! after they disbanded last year. Fronted by former Attack Attack! frontman Caleb Shomo, Beartooth is somewhat less electronic than his previous band, with their music providing more of an all-out hardcore assault. After the buzz created by the free online release of their debut EP Sick, Beartooth have stealthily been building quite the following in America, with unusual stunts like a tour where all the venues were fans’ houses. Now, with a slot opening for Of Mice & Men on their European tour, Beartooth look set to convert the unwitting rock fans of Europe to their cause too. Recently The Edge caught up with frontman Caleb Shomo for a quick chat before the Southampton show of the Of Mice & Men tour.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

It’s kind of wild I suppose. It’s fast, it’s loose and it’s fun. Oh and it’s very high energy! We just try and make sure anyone listening to it has a good time, most of all.

Where does the name Beartooth come from?

Our old bass player grew up in a place called Beartooth Court. We all just thought it was a cool sounding name and it worked for us, so that’s what we ended up calling the band.

When you first started Beartooth, you said it was almost a joke band, just something you did for fun. When did it become more of a ‘real’ band?

Well, it started to become more real for us when people started to get interested in it, and were interested in working with us. There are plenty of managers and people like that who I know from the music industry who said they really liked the band and believed in it and wanted to work with it, so I just thought ‘why not? Let’s do it and see how it goes’.

Your music is a cathartic way of dealing with your own issues. Do you get fans coming and talking to you about problems they have because of it?

Yeah actually, that happens quite a bit. In many ways, it’s kind of cool because it’s always a wild thing when someone else can relate to what you’ve gone through. I also really like it when they [fans]come up to me, we can hang out and just talk about these issues and talk though them together. It’s really great to be able to have that connection with people.

At the same time though, at every show I find it hard to sing those songs, because of what they’re about, so it can be very tough to talk to people about the things they’ve gone through. I like to think it’s therapeutic in some way though, and that it helps a bit.

Do you find putting those emotions out on a record to be therapeutic for you?

Oh yes, definitely. I would say that it wouldn’t even matter if I didn’t release any of what I recorded actually. The therapeutic part is the part where you’re alone in the studio writing these songs and recording them. That’s been incredibly good for me, I think. 

Do any of you fans ever go too far and become overly intense when you’re talking to them?

Yeah, there are some people who do get very intense about the whole thing. I don’t think that they really see that I’m a super generic and normal guy just like them who happens to play music. The music is the only thing that’s different, and it just makes me feel very uncomfortable and awkward when people put me on a pedestal.

They often give me presents as well, and sometimes people give me something that means a lot to them because of a tough time that they had which my songs helped them though. Stuff like that is incredible, but I get a lot of random shit that I don’t understand too!

Where’d you get the idea to play shows in people’s houses?

Just from growing up loving music myself really. I know that a lot of people don’t always have venues near them or the money to get to shows, and that’s a shame, because all kinds of loud crazy music like hardcore, metal and punk start off in people’s basements. I just wanted to get back to that kind of laidback vibe, really. There’s nothing else like it, because there’s no rules, just people jumping around and leaping off stuff and having the best time. It’s insane when there’s no separation between the stage and the floor and everyone’s just going crazy and having a great time.

We never intentionally trashed anyone’s houses either; we tried to be very respectful to anyone who was nice enough to let us play in their house. But, we had a couple of shows where we finished playing and there were a couple of man-sized holes in somebody’s wall! The people that came to those shows did get pretty crazy! [laughs]

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

Warped Tour in the US, releasing our first full album and lots more touring!

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