Twist and ShoutBeartooth gigs are as rowdy as it gets – and Caleb Shomo loves it. The frontman lets loose on broken noses, screaming techniques and his fan group, the Shomosexuals.
Caleb Shomo smiles in anticipation. Only one hour to go until he hits the stage at The Barfly—it’s the intimacy of the legendary London venue that he loves. “No barriers,” he says, pushing aside a long piece of hair from his face. “That’s how I like it.” He knows what he’s talking about: With his former metalcore band Attack Attack! Shomo made Billboard magazine’s top 20 in album sales and played huge festival stages. In 2013—at only 20 years old—Shomo quit the band to start a harder, more aggressive outfit called Beartooth. In June, the five-piece released their highly anticipated debut album, Disgusting.
THE RED BULLETIN: Are you guys hunters? Hence the band name?
CALEB SHOMO: Our old bass player grew up on Bear Tooth Court in Columbus, Ohio, and we just put the words together because we thought it sounded cool. If you look up Beartooth online you either get Beartooth Pass, which is a mountain, or us. It’s easy to Google. You don’t get confused.
The name works, though, considering the aggressive style of your music.
That’s true. If we had named the band Daisy Power, it wouldn’t exactly fit. [Laughs.]
Do you prefer brown bears or polar bears?
I always envisioned the band as a grizzly. A while ago someone came to a show in a full polar bear outfit, head to toe. And his friend came in a giant molar costume.
Were they members of your notorious fan club, the Shomosexuals?
Oh god, I don’t know. [Laughs.] It’s some title that a few of my fans gave themselves, which I do find really funny. It’s a clever way to put it.
How do true Shomosexuals show their commitment?
Some of them get tattoos of my lyrics and the band logo, which blows my mind. I mean, we just started out, we have only one album out and they’re like, “Beartooth for life.” It’s a tattoo—that thing isn’t ever going away. Hopefully they will still like our second record. [Laughs.]
Speaking of your new album, how do you achieve this high level of energy that’s inherent in all your songs?
It comes from distortion, feedback and not overthinking things: Writing music in the moment of the mood, yelling into a microphone. I just hit the record button and go. I do as much in one take as I can, because I think it captures a lot of the reality of it. I keep all the mess-ups and the voice cracks on the recordings.
With all the shouting, how do you keep your voice in shape?
In the early days I would scream completely wrong and blow my voice out every single show after three songs. It was miserable. With my old band Attack Attack! I did a tour in Australia and I blew my voice out the entire time. So when I got back home I locked myself in my basement and just kept trying. I yelled for hours, like a complete idiot. Because the thing is, if you’re screaming and you’re losing your voice, you’re doing something wrong.
You also make electronic music under the moniker of CLASS.
Yes, but I prefer to keep both things separate. I love electronic stuff because of my passion for synthesizers. I just love to find new sounds. On the other hand, using two guitars, bass, drums, because it feels really good and pure.
Your shows might remind one of a battlefield. Do you feel safe on stage? Do you demand barricades at shows?
I hate barricades. I hate that there’s that separation. We want people to stage-dive and come up on stage, take the microphone and sing their favorite parts. For our kind of music that’s what keeps people so involved. They can express themselves in a way that I express myself, which is doing whatever you want to do to get your energy out.
As a pro, what are your tips for aspiring stage-divers?
If you stage-dive curled up in a ball or go head first, it’s not going to go that well. My general stage-dive philosophy is, I go and try to spread out as much as possible or at least scope out where you’re going to jump first. Make sure it’s a person that knows you’re about to stage-dive. Or else you’re going to land on some 14-year-old girl that’s going to go to the ground and you break her nose. Try to avoid that.
Check out more Beartooth here.