Beartooth have certainly reigned in 2014 as one of the most impressive hardcore bands of the year. With only a debut album out, this heavy outfit has rocked the music scene with the power, emotion, and excitement on their record Disgusting. As a part of the Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil world tour in November, MEB editor Emma Guido had the chance to sit down with vocalist Caleb Shomo and guitarist Taylor Lumley and chat about their incredible debut, life on the road, and the controversial trends of the music scene.
MEB: Beartooth have had really great progress in 2014! A big contributor to this is all of the touring you have done this year, on top of debuting your full length album Disgusting. How do you feel about all the things you have done in this year alone?
Caleb: Feels good. I’m pretty proud of it. It’s been a wild ride if you will.
Taylor: I think the wild part was putting out the record because nobody was really sure how it would do. Would it be awesome? Would people be into it? I mean, the response has been pretty overwhelming. Also, Warped Tour was great for us.
What has been one moment from this year that has been especially memorable for you?
Taylor: We got to visit Taco Bell headquarters. That’s pretty much the peak of our career.
Caleb: We went to Taco Bell. They showed us a bunch of unreleased things that they’ve been working on. They let us make our own burritos.
You got a lot of exposure to Europe and the UK with Of Mice & Men and Issues this year as well. It being your first time on the road together in foreign countries, what was that experience like?
Taylor: The whole tour sold out before we went over there. Just going overseas knowing you’re going to play a sold out tour is a really weird feeling, but actually doing it is something completely different. It was awesome.
Caleb: Very grateful to them [Of Mice And Men] for taking us out on the tour and the shows were unreal.
What are some of your new favorite places to play outside of the US?
Taylor: London’s awesome. We did a headliner there in September after Warped Tour for the first time and it was incredible. The London show sold out before we got there. A lot of the shows sold out. We owe a lot of that to the OM&M tour and our record label for getting us on the radio over there and people loving it.
Caleb: Our publicist over there, Emma, is a legend and she hooked up a lot of cool interviews. Our booking agent is great as well. We just got lucky with the people taking care of us.
How were the crowd reactions to your performances in these countries? Were you surprised to see a following and watch it grow?
Caleb: Absolutely! Our first time headlining there. That’s pretty outrageous.
You said you liked London the best..why is that?
Taylor: I think it was just the most wild show. That and Leeds. Those people are nuts.
How is your relationship with your fans?
Caleb: We kinda wear who we are on our sleeves. We don’t try to put on a facade or try to put on any image for anybody. We want people to know who we are as people being honest with them.
How has interacting with them affected you?
Taylor: We get a lot of crazy stories. Our music, the way Caleb has written a lot of it – it attracts people who have gone through a lot of hardship in their lives. That’s the same stuff that we’ve been through. Just hearing a lot of people’s stories is really humbling that they can identify with things he says on the record. For us, we’re not here to be someone’s savior. We’re here to let people know that we’ve gone through the same stuff. If you’ve gone through the same stuff, we want you to be able to come to one of our shows and have fun. We aren’t going to save your life. We can at least get you through whatever crap you’re going through for an hour.
Caleb: Anybody can come no matter who they are, what they look like, what they do. If you come to a show, you’re apart of the same one body of people – we’re all there to go crazy and have a good time.
The whole “this band saved my life, this band saved me” has been the sort of a trend in today’s music scene. Can you elaborate on how you feel about it?
Caleb: For us, that is no way, shape or form the goal. We do not want to be idolized by people or viewed as some sort of weird…almost humanly higher power. That’s not real. We are just some normal ass people who play music together. I think music is something that we can all connect to on a real deep level – the choice to keep living is a personal choice. I think those things can help that. When people say “you saved my life”, I don’t know what to say to that or how to respond. I think music as a whole can help save somebody’s life. For me, for what I’ve experience and what we’ve experienced – it’s your decision to keep living or not. If a band writes a bad record, it’s not their fault. They are just doing what they do.
Taylor: I feel like a lot of bands and people in those bands might buy into that whole thing and play into that stereotype which I think could be very dangerous. When you start viewing yourself as that and that “I’m responsible for saving all these people” , it’s kinda creepy. You’re a musician. You live in a van for nine months out of the year. You smell bad all the time. We’re not perfect people. We’re just honest about it and I don’t think buying into all that is very honest.
As mentioned before, your debut album Disgusting dropped in June of this past summer. What was your mindset like going into the studio? What were your plans and how did they change as you went along?
Caleb: Literally every Beartooth song is written the same way except one song I did with a producer. I just go into my studio by myself in my house and just tune out everything going on in the outside world and tune into what’s going on in my life and put that into song. Beartooth is a very aggressive band. There are a lot of aggressive subjects spoken about and I want the music to match it or vice versa. There’s no real formula.
Taylor: I think my favorite part was that there was no studio time. Caleb records and writes everything at his house. Over the course of a few months, we would get a text at 2 AM, “hey there’s a new song if you want to check it out” Everything felt very natural and organic. I think that’s cool about doing things in your band yourself. There’s no set time that you have to go in and do stuff. You can do things naturally over a course of a year.
Once thing I obsess over in music is melody. It’s one of my favorite parts of Disgusting as well (One More, Body Bag, In Between). How do those melodies and sounds come to you when you are making music?
Caleb: Literally, I just want to write a song that when I listen to it. I enjoy it. I genuinely like our record. I enjoy listening to the songs. I feel like if I wrote something like “ahh that was mediocre” or “that’s ok”. I want it to be when I walk around listening to the song with headphones “Yeah, I love this song. It couldn’t have been any better than what I did to it.” That’s my goal. I’m very competitive with myself.
The album is full of really emotional elements and raw feelings. It was very directly perceived through your sound as well as your lyrics. I’ll start by asking about the lyrics; what inspired you to be so open with listeners on this record?
Caleb: Because I didn’t start this project as something someone else was going to hear, I would have only done it for myself or some close friends. The whole point of it was for me being completely emotionally open in a recording session. Everything started going and the ball started rolling. I’m not going to change what Beartooth is – it’s just raw emotion.
When it was time to record these emotional tracks, how did you prepare yourself vocally and mentally?
Caleb: I didn’t. I just do it in the moment. I never prepare myself or do vocal warmups either. I just go in and hit record and feel the moment.
Taylor: I think that works though. It’s kinda like pulling off a bandage. Just gotta do it quick and fast and get it done.
After expressing your feelings the way you do on this album, how did it ultimately affect you as a person?
Caleb: I can say that I am 100% content and happier with life than I’ve ever been. I think it helped a lot to do that – putting the songs into a recording and experiencing it live with different people and my best friends.
You were in your previous band Attack Attack! for a long time before forming Beartooth. How has it been for you, breaking away from that previous role and making Beartooth a complete and separate part of you and your life?
Caleb: Attack Attack was something I got over. It didn’t feel honest to me. I wanted to do something by myself.
Now after having an incredible year, what are you planning for the near future? New music?
Caleb and Taylor: Tour!
Caleb: Playing a lot of shows and writing a record next year.
Anything you want to say to your fans and your supporters?
Caleb: Thanks! Genuinely thank you for all the support you’ve given us and given us a chance to do something for as long as we can remember and that’s play music for a living.
Taylor: Thank you for making it fun. As much as we go on stage and do dumb stuff, it’s really encouraging for people to let it go and do dumb stuff with you. We get on stage and have fun, but to look out into the crowd and see people have as much fun with us is the best possible feeling.