WITH a name like Beartooth, and three albums called Disgusting, Aggressive and Disease, you won’t need to have heard them to work out the Ohio five-piece specialise in hardcore punk of the type that tears your face off in a live setting.
Yet frontman Caleb Shomo (pictured) confesses that he’s always used his music as a form of therapy. Their latest album, Disease, finds Caleb in reflective mood and features one of his most candid songs to date, Clever.
‘With the band, generally, the last song on the album is some dark sort of metaphor, a brutal thing,’ he explains. ‘This time, I thought I should write something more straightforward and open. It makes it really difficult to perform. We’ve never played it in the full band, rock show setting. I’ve played it once in an acoustic, stripped-down situation.’
Caleb has been open in the past about his experiences of mental ill health and addiction, and I ask him if the content of the music sometimes makes it difficult to relive nightly.
‘Oh, absolutely,’ he says. ‘There are some songs I refuse to do, because they’re so personal I feel it would almost be like a disservice to me. There are certain things that are a moment in time, that I want to stay a one-off. I don’t want to relive those moments.
‘At the same time, though, I’ve realised that the more I dive into myself and the personal songs, the more people at shows connect to it. They really seem to understand and relate.
‘I think about it every night. It makes me braver to play the darker songs live. I realise how much hurt everybody has. It’s beautiful and amazing that people can relate to these things and benefit from it.’
The fans certainly seem to relate to the content of Beartooth’s songs and regularly thank the band or share experiences, in person or through social media. It’s a big responsibility but something Caleb is grateful for.
’I talk to people every day. A lot of people have gone through outrageous s***. In my head, I feel like I’m so messed up, I’m the last person anyone should take advice from,’ he says, laughing. ‘It’s truly honouring. People say our music saved their life, that is a whole lot.
‘Usually, I try to tell people, “First off, thank you, that’s beautiful, but I wasn’t the one there, you were the person who had the strength to do that.” If we can be an avenue or part of that it’s amazing, but people don’t give themselves enough credit for pulling themselves out of a hole.’
Caleb normally records in a studio in his basement but for Disease he decided to go elsewhere and says it made a real difference. ‘I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a record the old-fashioned way. I went to all these really nice studios with amazing vintage gear and tape machines. Getting to dive in with no limits was amazing.’
Caleb is from Columbus, Ohio, but his wife hails from the UK, so playing here is always a special experience for him. ‘My wife grew up in Hackney in London, so whenever we play the UK, I get to see a lot of my extended family.’
For the uninitiated, a Beartooth show is the perfect place to let off steam. ‘It’s this big release of energy,’ Caleb says. ‘You come in there with whatever has been going on in your week and you get an hour and a half to let loose.’
■ Beartooth play the Roundhouse tomorrow, and touring, beartoothband.com