Caleb Shomo: “There’s no changing the past, there’s just going through the journey and dealing with the present.”

Self-Love, recovery and 'The Surface' with Beartooth's frontman.

Caleb Shomo: “There’s no changing the past, there’s just going through the journey and dealing with the present.”

By Katherine Allvey

Oct 5, 2023 14:00

Caleb Shomo, frontman for Beartooth, is in an upbeat mood as he leans on a picnic table. It’s a warm day and the bright pink bandana he wears tied across his forehead is a sign that he’s in a good place. For him, a trip to the UK is ‘absolutely wonderful’. “I love being in London,” Shomo smiles. “I don’t get to be here enough.”

It’s only been five months since Beartooth’s headlining show at Wembley, and while the thousands of people in the audience that night undoubtedly had a great evening, Shomo is more critical. “It was really, really cool. It was an interesting show. From a technical standpoint, my voice was just not great that day. I’d been through a lot, there was a bus sickness going around… I dunno, there was just a lot going on…” He pauses for a moment. Shomo has made an effort in recent months to move away from being too self-critical, and when he catches himself about to deprecate himself, he pauses to re-centre the conversation. “At previous times in my life that’s really got to me, and I’ve been really stressed out, but I’ve figured, over the years, that adrenaline is one hell of a drug… and getting in front of all of those people…whatever happens is gonna happen, and we’re just gonna be along for the ride. Thankfully, it ended up sorting itself out and I just had so much fun during that show. I got to wield a flamethrower, which is just about the coolest moment of my entire adult life, and maybe the coolest thing I’ll ever do onstage, and I’m ok with that!”

Shomo’s journey towards self-acceptance has been both public and instrumental to the trajectory of Beartooth’s music. The first sign for the fans that a change was coming was ‘Riptide’s surprise drop back in July 2022. The song is now approaching twenty million streams on Spotify and was a huge favourite of the Wembley crowd. It’s also a symbol of a single instant in Shomo’s life. “It was the first song I wrote for the album, and it was the song that really represents the definitive transition point of my life that defines me now,” he says, with a deceptively casual tone. Shomo takes his craft incredibly seriously, but he speaks with a calm openness that makes him seem relaxed about being a stadium-headlining rockstar. “I wrote that song like a week after I quit boozing, which was a big thing for me, and a pretty big turning point in some decision making to start chasing some mental and physical health. I realised that [on] this new record, what I’m going to be saying, and what I’m going through is very different to all four records before it, and ‘Riptide’ was like the warning, the ‘Hey, here’s a taste of what’s coming… it is going to be distinctly different!’ –  I couldn’t be more proud of it, and it is what I have to do in my life. It was a way for people to digest the transition a little bit, and to digest what was happening.” 

His decision to be open and slowly introduce the new direction for Beartooth has clearly paid off. The lyrics of ‘Riptide’ hint at a veiled criticism of those who ‘romanticise the Riptide’, which at one point included Shomo himself. “I think sometimes it’s very easy to get comfortable in it. I know depression so well,” he taps his hand on the sun-bleached wooden table, emphasising his point, “because I’ve lived in it for so long, and I’ve let it be the forefront of my emotional life for so long. I know it. I know how to act within it, I know how it affects me, and whether it’s healthy or not, I am comfortable with it because its something I know so well.” He sighs softly. “and ‘This is the last time that I romanticise the riptide’ is when you manifest, at least for me in my own life, that it’s time to become uncomfortable. Being comfortable in that depression is instead of dealing with it and doing the difficult things that will make me able to cope with it more, I was choosing to bury it in alcohol. That’s a very easy way to feel like I have control over it, and it’s numbing it, but it’s not dealing with it. That’s me romanticising it, that’s me choosing to continue to live in it.” Shomo fixes his bright stare directly forward for a moment. “Trust me, I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to face these things head on, but I was just at a point where it was ‘do or die’ for me. I’ve gotta change how I’m approaching this, I’ve gotta try something new or I’m going to be stuck in this rut for whatever life I have left living this way.”

Beartooth’s next release, ‘The Surface’, is available on 13th October and all signs point to a emotionally revealing reinvention of their sound.  The first single, ‘Might Love Myself’, is a muscle-stretching power track on the power of self-love, and it’s not just written to connect with a fan who might need to hear that positive message. “This record has a lot of manifesting, and I think manifesting can be incredibly crucial,” explains Shomo.”’Manifesting’ can mean a lot of different things, and  what I mean by that is choosing to say out loud things that I am going to change about myself, and speaking in a factual way instead of ‘oh, someday’… no, no, no!” He waggles his finger as if he’s scolding a naughty child. Shomo very much believes in the power of acting now and taking control of your own destiny. It’s a new development for him personally, and he is very aware that it’s something to struggle with on a daily basis. “If I’m not saying this and making this real now, it will not be real. That’s part of the process. With ‘Might Love Myself’, [when I sing the line] ‘I’m exactly who I want to be’ I mean ‘I am doing the work and making the daily choices to do what it takes to know what self love is and to feel self love’, which is something I’ve never felt before. I’ve never put in the work to feel self love before. I was always wallowing in the sadness and letting that envelope me, but happiness, for me, takes work. I know a lot of people who don’t [have to] deal with depression, and don’t know what it feels like, and that’s a beautiful thing. For me, I just have a chemical makeup which is pre-disposed to it, and if I don’t do certain things in my daily life and in my routine, that will always be what is the forefront of my life. ‘I’m exactly who I want to be’ is about me being a person who wakes up and makes the choice to put in the work, to put in the work to be in control of my mental health and my physical health and this whole ride that I’m on. It’s just being in the driver’s seat, and that’s always who I’ve wanted to be and who I always thought I could never be. That’s what made me feel self love for the first time, and I became OK with every part of myself; the good, the bad, the things in the past which I’ve hated so much… it’s like in the song, ‘I hate who I became’. In some ways I do, but if I hadn’t gone through all of that,  then I wouldn’t be at the point I am now. There’s no changing the past, there’s just going through the journey and dealing with the present.”


The theme of the struggle for happiness runs all the way through ‘The Surface’ like a vein of precious metal. Another track, ‘Better Me’, focuses on the decision to make positive changes. The chorus, ‘Today is the day I stop fucking around and be a better me’ is an honest reflection of where Shomo has been mentally for a while. “It’s talking about a process that starts with a definitive moment,” Shomo reveals. “I do think on that whole chorus I talk about the longing for it. I’ve spent so much time thinking ‘oh, I’ll do this tomorrow’ or ‘tomorrow I’m gonna make changes because I can barely speak’, referencing how, so many times I’ve been wasted or living in this depression. I looked at the future as ‘maybe someday’. And there’s this moment where you just have to realise that the future is not real!” He slams his hand onto the table enthusiastically. “Now is what’s fuckin’ real, and if you don’t do anything now, the future will always be the same rut that you’re in and you will be the same loop until you are dead.” The words spill out of him like a flood. “That’s why it’s today, ‘today is the day I stop fuckin around’. Who knows if tomorrow will even happen? The present is real.”

Shomo is making the most of living in the present, and it’s not just his collected demeanour that gives this away.  He’s in London after finishing a European festivals tour, which followed an Australian tour, which followed an American tour, and he’s been enjoying the chance to share his music with larger crowds. “Something for me that’s changed recently is that I love playing shows to people who don’t know who we are,” he breaks into a broad grin. “Usually, if we’re playing a stadium, we’re not headlining it, and we’re playing to a lot of people who don’t know who we are. Recently we played some more ‘pop’ festivals, like Pukkelpop in Belgium and Lowlands in the Netherlands which are like pop/indie festivals, and we are kinda the fish out of water as a metal band. Like with every show, I see who’s seen us before.” He does an impression of a stereotypical rock star call out, along with the sound a of a crowd cheering. “Maybe the front row [responds]. “Who hasn’t seen us before?” Everybody has never seen us before. But, to be able to go out there with the perspective that I have now to  show them what we do and the positive energy that I try and curate during our shows, we get a really, really cool response. Almost, to me, that’s felt more special than playing these shows to just everybody who knows who we are. You know it’s gonna be crazy, you know you’re gonna feel supported and loved.” 

That feeling is bound to carry on when ‘The Surface’ hits our playlists. Shomo continues chatting after his allotted interview time is finished (“Justin Timberlake is just one of the coolest, most talented people, and an absolute fucking genius… ”) before running off for a gym session between media engagements.  He’s a world away from the person who wrote ‘Disease’, and with a new direction in his music and health, Beartooth can only continue their rise into super-stardom. 

Beartooth’s next album, ‘The Surface’, is released on 13th October 2023 via Red Bull Records.