Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo on New Album, Disease, Mental Health Struggles, and More

"It's important for me to get those parts of my head out, and it frees my mind up"

Beartooth, Red Bull Records

Caleb Shomo is known for getting deeply personal in his music, and the frontman does just that on Beartooth’s just-released album, Disease. Shomo describes Disease as a kind of musical photo album, with each song depicting a different moment in his life.

“The whole point for me with most of the songs and lyrics is trying to capture that moment in time and whatever emotion I was going through at that moment,” Shomo told Heavy Consequence.

On the album, Shomo delves into his day-to-day struggles and anxieties, and the result is a very earnest and relatable musical diary. Disease is also one of Beartooth’s most musically diverse albums, branching out in new directions beyond the band’s metalcore sound.

In the midst of Beartooth’s current North American tour, Shomo spoke with Heavy Consequence about Disease, his personal struggle with depression, why it’s important to him to open up in Beartooth’s songs, the loss of his good friend Kyle Pavone and more. Read the full interview below:

On working with famed producer Nick Raskulinecz (Deftones, Korn, Foo Fighters) on Disease

He’s amazing. Basically, I went to his place one day before going to Blackbird Studio (in Tennessee), and I brought a hard drive with sessions and song ideas. We chose what songs were good for the record and what songs to spend time on. We adjusted the songs and made these random ideas into a record, and he was great with that. He’s a smart dude when it comes to creating rock records.

I think the biggest thing he did was just knowing in his mind how a song should play and flow and how an album should flow. It was impressive how much he trusted his gut, and for me, he made me believe in myself and the music I was making. A lot of times, I was out there trying to do co-writes and didn’t know what direction to take the music. He solidified the stuff that I had and was worth working on. As it turned out, the stuff that meant the most to me was the stuff that turned out the best.

On opening up about depression and mental health issues in his music

That’s always a very prevalent thing for me to talk about. The whole reason I talk about it on Beartooth records is because I’m trying to be honest. It’s important for me to get those parts of my head out, and it frees my mind up. I think, in turn, that helps translate better to people who want to hear an honest song. I’m not good at writing bullshit songs by just making something up and trying to be catchy to make a bunch of money. That’s never been my forte for Beartooth. I always try to be as honest as possible, and all that mental stuff comes out, and I think people can relate to that.

On how important it is to get personal in Beartooth’s songs

It’s very important. That’s the whole point of Beartooth for me. I have this outlet where I feel like I can say anything I want to and musically do anything I want. It’s gotten different as the band has gotten bigger, because at first, the songs weren’t supposed to be heard by anybody. It was more of a personal diary for me. But since then, it’s gotten bigger. I shut off from the world when I’m making albums and make the music that I want to create.

On the broad range of music on Disease

I think this is the most all-over-the-spectrum kind of album we’ve done, sonically. It’s definitely some of the heaviest stuff and lightest stuff we’ve written, and that makes the record really fun or me, because it makes it interesting instead of hearing the same song over and over again.

On the song “Disease” being a snapshot of the album

“Disease” is the one song that really encompasses most of what the album is about. The core of this album is about me trying to remember who I am and where I want to end up mentally as a person, and that means I have to deal with a lot of things. “Disease” is me trying to be really blunt and honest about feeling helpless. It’s about the struggle. I know that I’ve felt this way a really long time and have been ignoring it. I’m trying to go into it and confront it.

On the hard-hitting track “Bad Listener”

It was hard for a lot of people in my life to understand what I wanted to do with my life, as in being in a rock band and involved in music. No matter what other people said, I was like, “This is what I do.” This whole life as a musician is different to understand for most people.

On his favorite song off Disease

My favorite song changes a lot, but I think my favorite song right now is “Fire”. I think sonically, it has every little piece of sound you would could want. There’s heavy stuff and the softer side. I think it offers a little piece of everything and depicts how the record sounds.

On Beartooth performing on the final Vans Warped Tour this past summer

For me, it was a piece of my childhood. It’s always been an integral part of my life. Almost every summer of my adult life has been spent on the Warped Tour. I have all the respect for Kevin Lyman, and I’m sure he’s doing what he has to do. I loved everybody involved in that whole thing.

On being good friends with We Came As Romans’ Kyle Pavone, and his thoughts on Pavone’s passing

Kyle and I go way back. Some of my first shows I’ve ever played were with Kyle. I’ve known the guys in We Came As Romans for over 10 years. I don’t have many words. It’s truly devastating. He was a really good dude. He was one of the funniest and most kindhearted people I knew, and it’s a tough pill to swallow.

On his love for touring and performing live

I’ve been touring constantly for around 10 years, and for me, it’s part of my life. I couldn’t handle life without it. I love everything about it: going out with friends, getting to play music every day, just hanging out. It’s truly incredible. I’m grateful to be able to tour so much.

Our thanks to Caleb Shomo for taking the time to speak with Heavy Consequence. Pick up Beartooth’s new album, Disease, at this location, and see the band’s upcoming tour dates here.