Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo Talks ‘Aggressive’ Album, Corey Taylor Support + More
Beartooth are back and showing no signs of a sophomore slump. The band recently released their second album, Aggressive, and it's living up to the title thanks to such songs as "Loser," "Hated" and the title track. We recently had a chance to speak with Beartooth frontman Caleb Shomo, who discussed the creative process and touched on some of the Aggressive album's key tracks. We also got his response to a recent nod of praise from Slipknot / Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor. Check out the chat below:
Many thanks for the time and loving what we’ve heard from the new album. Going into Aggressive did you have an idea of what you wanted to do and, if so, how close did you come close to the original vision when it was complete?
Going into Aggressive, I honestly didn’t really have a huge vision. I mean going into Beartooth records in general I try and start with a pretty clean slate and just kinda see where it takes me there. After the first few songs I usually am able to wrap my head around it, like the sound at least, and from there take it in whatever direction I feel. I didn’t really go in having a much of vision at all, but once it started coming in, like two, three songs I just got really stoked on it and ran with it and I’m honestly very happy with how it turned out. I like the fact that it’s a bit more melodic but I think it’s a lot more intense and a bit more pissed off at the same time.
When it comes to songwriting do you have any way you go about getting into a mindset? And is there any sort of test for what will ultimately be a Beartooth song?
I don’t know if I really have a way of getting in a mindset. Again it’s one of those things that just sort of happen naturally. I usually start with some guitar riffs and try and get a mood going with that. Also the fact that I do it completely alone in my basement really helps with the mindset. It kind of gets me in that darker mood. I mean, my Beartooth song test is, when I finish it I put it on my phone and if I don’t listen to it on repeat over and over and over and over because I’m really stoked on it and love the song, then it doesn’t go on the record. That’s pretty much how I make sure it’s good enough.
For the Aggressive album you had a chance to work with pros in the studio like John Feldmann and David Bendeth. I saw the Instagram posting about how cool it was seeing Bendeth doing his magic mixing the album. Can you discuss working with both on the disc?
Working with both of them is unbelievable. Feldmann, I’ve worked with a lot more. I’ve just known him for longer. We’ve been working together on music for probably like four or five years. Bendeth obviously was newer in the equation, but he was incredible. He really opened up my eyes to a whole lot of stuff with mixing and even just putting together a song as well as how to really be a better audio engineer and a better mixing engineer. With Beartooth tracks in general it’s a very personal process so I have to feel comfortable if I work with anybody. Feldmann, I already felt extremely comfortable with, but bringing Bendeth into the equation was a big move for me. That was kind of a big thing to let somebody else in on this project. I felt really good with it. He did an amazing job and I definitely think both of them will be involved in the next record, absolutely.
Our first taste of this album was the Aggressive title track and video. Can you discuss where the song came from? And also, I want to give you a chance to discuss the video for "Aggressive," as well.
I think it really just encompasses the tone of the entire album, which is kind of "aggressive youth." Whether that be myself and like me reflecting on times when I was younger or whether that be things going on in the world today. And I think the video really was just a lot of visuals to represent that. I mean obviously with the black and white that’s just an aesthetic thing to give it more grit and a darker tone and let people know that this is going to be an intense record. It also represents just doing whatever it takes to get where you need to get. For me this record has a lot to do with me doing whatever it takes to pursue happiness and be comfortable with myself. So yeah, I think the fact that it’s a kid is just to bring some reality to the situation. All the stuff that’s happening in the world right now definitely affects the youth, and it affects the younger generation a lot more than people would think sometimes.
There's great energy in the lyrical content on "Loser," one of my favorite songs in a while. Can you discuss that track musically and lyrically?
Well, thank you. First off. And, I mean, yeah that song kind of started with the music. It just started with that riff in the beginning and you know I didn’t think it was gonna be as deep of a song. I thought it was gonna be a little more along the lines of ‘Rock Is Dead’ where it's just a more fun track. After the music got put together and I started putting lyrics together, I think I wrote the chorus first and then everything just spun out of control from there. I started diving into my childhood and a whole bunch of things and diving into my love for music and it all kind of stemmed from there.
As you get ready to support this album do you have a song that you have either already played, or have yet to get to, that you think will be one of your favorites live and can’t wait to see how the audience responds?
I mean, we’ve only played a few live so far and they’ve all been amazing. I’m very excited to play "Hated." That’s something we haven’t done yet. I’m just stoked to see how people dig it and if people are singing along and kind of getting involved.
You recently received some high praise from Corey Taylor saying he felt better about the future of the genre with a band like Beartooth. I know you’ve also played Knotfest in the past. What did it mean to get that compliment and know you’ve got a guy out there who’s been through it all rooting for you?
It’s unbelievable. He’s f--king Corey Taylor -- he’s done so many cool things and he is such an awesome guy. I mean, when we got to tour with them, tt was a really pleasant surprise when he was such a nice dude. That tour was an amazing experience, and the fact that he’s got such positive things to say about Beartooth is very, very cool and I couldn’t be more stoked about that.
The half man / half animal artwork is awesome. Who came up with the artwork and how do you feel it represents the album title Aggressive?
Myriam Santos is who we worked with for the photography and the whole vibe. There were a ton of ideas, and I had a few ideas going into it, but when she kind of dropped that idea in, it seemed to really feel right just because it represents the more intense primal instinct to pursue what you need to pursue.
I know you parted ways with Brandon Mullins earlier this year. What is the plan moving forward in terms of a replacement?
As of now, we’re going on as a four piece. We don’t feel like really bringing on a new member at this time because the record just came out and we just kind of wanna stay as the team that we have right now. We have a drummer who is playing with us live. His name is Connor Dennis, and he is f--king amazing and yeah, we are extremely happy with that.
What’s on the horizon for Beartooth in the coming months; new single, a video, tour?
All of the above and more. We are gonna be doing music videos, we’re doing singles, we’re touring constantly. I think one of the biggest things about the upcoming year is that we wanna do more international stuff and cover more ground around the world.
Many thanks to Beartooth's Caleb Shomo for the interview. The band's Aggressive album is out now via Red Bull Records. You can pick up a copy at Amazon or iTunes. Beartooth are currently on tour in Europe, but will return to North America in mid-July. See all of their upcoming dates here.
Check Out Beartooth's Video for "Aggressive"