Interview: Beartooth

Under The Rockies saw Beartooth open for Silverstein's Discovering The Waterfront 10 year anniversary tour. We chatted with Beartooth vocalist, Caleb Shomo, on their music, touring and what they think of their fans idolizing their favourite musicians. 

Beartooth's debut album, Disgusting, is out now. Catch Beartooth at one of their upcoming tour dates which you can find at www.beartoothband.com. The band is also playing the entire Vans Warped Tour this summer.

How has the tour been going so far?
It’s been great. Today is the seventh show, I believe, and it’s been amazing. We’re in a lot of places in Canada that we’ve never been before, including today. It’s definitely interesting to be able to play a place we’ve never been to and see people’s reaction to the show and the reactions have all been really cool. It’s pretty encouraging.

Have you ever been to Calgary before, with Attack Attack!?
Maybe. Honestly, I can’t remember.

Warped Tour used to come up here, right until 2009.
Maybe. If so, probably

I know it’s Silverstein’s 10-year anniversary tour [of Discovering the Waterfront].  Nostalgia and 10-year album tours have been a hot topic lately. What are your thoughts on it? Do you think it could be a money-grab or it could be an interesting experience?
I think it’s great, I don’t think it’s in any way a money-grab. I think they put out something that they’re proud of and, 10 years ago, a lot of people loved it. Getting to watch them every night, them play the album in full is pretty crazy to see and see how many people are singing all the words. It’s pretty awesome.

Were you a friend of the band or a fan of the band before joining the tour?
I honestly never heard them until this tour but, obviously, I’ve heard of them and they’re great. They’re really cool to watch.

Could you ever see Beartooth doing their own five-year, 10-year album tour?
If we’re around that long, what the hell, why not.

What do you enjoy most about touring?
It’s hard to say. It’s kind of like an all-inclusive thing. I just love touring in general. The fact that I get to spend all my time with my best friends is rad, playing shows is awesome, getting to see the world. It’s great, all of it.

The tour runs through the US and Canada, what’s the difference in shows, seeing that Silverstein is from Canada?
The shows are equally pretty cool.

Is there a size difference?
The size, no. I think the US shows are a little bit bigger. Their [Silverstein’s] hometown [Burlington, Ontario], obviously, that’s going to be a much bigger show. I think the US venues are a little bigger. So far, the crowds in Canada have been the craziest ones so far. I’m glad we get to be in Canada at all. 

Outside of the US, where do you enjoy touring the most?
I mean, the UK is really cool. I just love the United Kingdom, I’d like to live there at some point. The shows there are great, the culture is really cool and there’s always something to do.

You did Pierce The Veil and Sleeping With Siren’s World Tour and you toured with Memphis May Fire. You’ve toured with these big bands in the scene but you [Beartooth] also have a nice buzz around you. Did you ever expect that to happen?
I never really expected any of this to happen. I’m just kind of going with the flow and hoping for the best, honestly. 

This is something I’ve been wondering and I never looked it up, where did the name Beartooth originate from?
Our old bass player grew up on Bear Tooth Court, we thought it was a cool word and that was it. Nothing crazy.

I know on Disgusting and your EP, Sick, you do all the vocals, production, instrumental work. Does this ever cause any strain with your live band, do they ever feel like, “I don’t know if I like this, I don’t know if I feel comfortable playing this”?
No, I mean out of the gate, I kind of told them, this is how it all works and I think everybody, myself included, is just excited to play music and nobody has had a problem with it so far.

Did you touch base with the band as you were recording the album?
I’d send them songs and we’d practice it. I mean they’re in the loop, definitely.

I know Attack Attack! had a bit of an ever-changing lineup at times. What’s the difference between going from a band like that to a more stable lineup like Beartooth has?
It’s a lot more simple. The same people every show, nobody has to learn anything new, it’s very consistent.

Do you like the stability of it?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Who wouldn’t? It’s great.

I read that you were in a dark place when the project started and you can from the lyrics. But it feels like things have brightened up for you now. Do you feel like, for future Beartooth albums, you’re going to have to tap into that dark place? Do you think it needs that? Or do you think you can write where you are now?
I just write about how I’m feeling. Obviously, Beartooth’s music is very aggressive, so that won’t change. If I’m in a dark place while I’m writing lyrics, they’re going to be dark and if I’m in a better mindset, which has been how I’ve been for pretty much the past year, it’s going to be a bit more positive. I guess we’ll just have to wait for that time to see.

I know John Feldmann helped you produce the album. How did that collaboration come about?
He’s great. He worked on the song “In Between” and I’ve worked with him before and we’re good friends and he’s a really awesome producer. He was one of the only people I felt comfortable with working on the songs and it was great.

What’s it like working with him. I know he’s so versatile. He worked on the 5 Seconds of Summer album and, scene-wise, that’s on the opposite spectrum of Beartooth.
Yeah. I mean he’s great. He just can do any kind of music and he does it very well. I mean, I think that me and him have similar ways of writing when it comes to melodies and ideas. It’s pretty easy to bounce stuff off each other. It definitely gives a bit more of a different sound to at least one song on the record, which is pretty cool to have.

If you could collaborate with any other musicians or producers, who would you want to work with?
I don’t know. I mean, I’m pretty happy, at least for Beartooth, I’m pretty happy doing it myself and I kind of prefer to do it that way. I mean, other than Feldmann, I can’t really think of anybody for Beartooth that I would want to work with.

I know you’re on the same label [Red Bull Records] as Itch and Five Knives, who are also Warped Tour alumni. Have you ever considered collaborating with them, even for your electronic project, CLASS?
Yeah, I’ve actually written lyrics with Itch before, for some other stuff. We never really did anything with it but I’m down to work with anybody if they’re cool. I’m pretty easy-going.

I creeped your social media accounts. A few days ago, your guitarist Taylor [Lumley] tweeted “Stop hero worship with musicians. Love the music, connect with it, but don’t treat anyone on a stage like a god. They’re no better than you”. What are your thoughts on that?
I think people are human. I don’t think anybody who walks on stage, makes them a better person than other people. I think people idolize musicians too much, honestly, and a lot of ways, it’s kind of like, yeah, feel free to appreciate the musician, like “this is my favourite band, favourite musician, whatever”, but when you start saying that this person saved your life and you put them on this crazy pedestal, to the point where you think that your life is in their hands. It’s like completely irrational. I think it’s unhealthy and I think you need to keep your life in your own hands. Yeah, take what you can from the music. If it helped save your life, that’s wicked, but you can’t basically put your life in someone else’s hands that you don’t even know. That’s crazy.

A lot of times people will say, “This band saved my life”, but it wasn’t the band, it was the person itself, they saved their own life.
Yeah, absolutely, like we didn’t save your life, you were the one to make the choice to save your own life and that’s the reality. Obviously, if we could have helped put your mind in the right place, one way or another, that’s awesome, but, at the end of the day, I didn’t come find you and pull the gun out of your hand, you did that yourself and be proud of that. Use that and be strong.

Regarding future releases and future music, what ways do you want Beartooth to grow as a band?
I can’t really think of anything. We’re two guitarists, bass and drums and vocals, and that’s kind of what we do. Just play louder, play harder, have more fun.

What do you have planned for 2015?
A bunch of touring and I don’t think any of it is announced yet. Just touring a bunch and maybe working on writing a record at the end of the year.

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Mary

Mary McComish is a journalist, music junkie, vegetarian, feminist and social media queen. She received her print journalism diploma from Lethbridge (yes, where Marilyn Manson was punched in the face) College and, since then, has freelanced as both a journalist and a graphic designer.