It’s been one hell of a year for Beartooth. The past twelve months has seen them release their second album ‘Aggressive’ and subsequently storm the Top 40. It’s been a year that promoted them from metalcore’s hottest property to the next big thing in mainstream rock. 365-ish days that have catapulted them around the world onto arenas and festival stages. Even as they took pride of place on the main stage at Slam Dunk Festival, it seems that there’s still unfinished business for the Ohio quartet to deal with in their own cathartic way.
“We’ve put in some work in the last two years,” starts frontman Caleb Shomo. “I guess it’s paying off. Shit is crazy. ‘Aggressive’ is something I look back on and there are certain things that I wish I had a little more time for. The important thing is that the singles were right, and I’m still happy with the songs. As long as people are happy with it then we’re cool with it, but what I will say is come and see it live if you really want to get the experience. Over the year, we have definitely dialled it in.”
Unless you buy a plane ticket to America, that might be a bit difficult for UK fans. By safely saying that Slam Dunk was “probably our last one for the year” in the UK, Caleb has teased the notion of beginning work on album #3 later this year.
“We’ve been dabbling,” Caleb hints. “I’ve been messing around with some stuff, but I don’t know right now. We’re gonna finish out the year and finish our touring cycle, and I’m just gonna lock myself away again and try to make another record. I can’t really write on the road,” he adds, preferring a much more isolated environment when writing. “I just get too distracted with things. I try and keep touring and writing separated.”
With ‘Aggressive’ developing on the intensely melodic side of its blistering predecessor (2014’s ‘Disgusting’) while still maintaining its hardcore crunch, Caleb is hopeful that the new material will follow a similar trajectory.
“At this point, I have a few things written,” he explains. “One of them is a lot more singing-driven, but one of them’s really fucking heavy metal. It’s just gonna be another Beartooth record, that’s all I’ve got in the bag…”
Before they turn their attention to a new record, Beartooth have the small matter of the Vans Warped Tour to attend to. Set for their third round on the summer-long jaunt across the US in just four years, the four-piece are already on the verge of ascending to veteran status at the travelling festival.
“You show up, and you’re at another parking lot,” Caleb laughs. “Everybody hangs out, drinks beer and barbecues, and then you play a set, it’s great!” Warped Tour aside, what better way to close out this pivotal chapter in Beartooth’s story than to illustrate what is arguably Aggressive’s most personal track?
In the new video for ‘Sick of Me’, the subject of depression and suicide – especially amongst the young people who continue to pack out Beartooth’s show – is addressed with a tone of empathy, resilience and, above all, hope.
“[Mental health awareness] is a very important thing to us in general,” says Caleb, who speaks candidly of his own struggles in the video, alongside several other people who have tackled their depression with incredible feats of strength, both physically and mentally.
“That video took a while to get sorted out because we’d just been working on a few different ideas but could never come up with something that everybody was happy with, and the director who did the video [Mark Klasfeld] just hit the nail on the head and really came up with a perfect idea. We were all behind it, it’s something that our band is very openly about, and we’re just trying to help people through that stuff and help people understand what it is, so it worked out good.”