The frontman and architect of Beartooth checks in for a conversation with the clown that touches on the musicians’ shared love of AC/DC, Japanese culture, and the gratification of making music the good old fashioned way.
For the first installment of the Electric Theater in 2021, clown linked with Caleb Shomo of Beartooth for a conversation that started out the way most all exchanges start nowadays – trying to make sense of a new reality.
Given the heightened tension that has permeated throughout the country, between the pandemic and the politics – clown offered couple of wise observations. One, right now might not be a bad time to just stay home and write songs. Two, he’s found a silver lining in that the current situation has allowed him to see people’s true colors.
Shomo shared his own silver lining in that Beartooth’s schedule seemed to fall right in line with how the pandemic and the subsequent closures played out. He explained that the last show of the Disease album cycle happened on March 6th, 2020. Just a couple days later, the world was scrambling to get home with airports in disarray and travel plans happening in a hurry.
Beartooth was set to take time off, reset, and work on a new record. While the time ended up being extended for a still undetermined length, Shomo shared that he was certainly counting his blessings that things worked out the way they did.
As for Slipknot, clown explained that the pandemic interrupted the band right in the thick of touring for their album, We Are Not Your Kind. The plan was for Slipknot to get to Japan next – though the pandemic had other plans. clown said that the harsh reality left him feeling upset – this didn’t take way his livelihood, it took away his medicine. Being onstage is something clown explained he needs and what was particularly stinging was that it happened right as the band was set to visit one of clown’s favorite destinations.
The touring veterans would then strike a bond over their shared admiration of the Japanese culture. clown confided that he was baffled by how the Japanese audience would go wild with applause, then stop, allowing for silence prior to the next song. Through an interpreter, clown found out that this was the audience’s way of allowing the performer to gather themselves physically and mentally, to prepare to deliver the next portion of their performance.
Shomo echoed his appreciation for the culture and the people. He explained that the kind of respect the audience shows to artists is so sincere that it’s almost overwhelming. There is an undivided attention that the artist enjoys in Japan that makes the live experience truly unique.
Naturally, the conversation would eventually steer towards music. The two got down to brass tacks and discussed their shared love for all things AC/DC. Trading favorites like High Voltage and Powerage and dissecting the differences between Bon Scott and Brain Johnson, Shomo and clown arrived at the conclusion that quality music that stands the test of time starts with having the best possible source material.
Finding character in some of the nuances that are in older records, the guys began to discuss how technology and the modern era of recording have conditioned the listener to expect perfection. Shomo would underscore his point in sharing that all a vocalist has to do is get close enough so that the auto-tuner can do the rest.
Shomo would go on to detail the meticulous process he navigated in making Beartooth’s third record, Disease. Wanting to record an album without the crutch of modern technology, Shomo spent a year trekking to different studios, playing and recording every part of the album – every note, every instrument. Like building the pieces before assembling the puzzle, Shomo confided that the investment was hefty, both financially and emotionally.
The result was a personal triumph for Shomo. Working with guys like Nick Raskulinecz and Greg Fidelman, the musician shared that he got a unique education in understanding what was important in making not just a song sound good, but making a good song.
The bittersweet reality for Shomo was that much of the meticulous detail that he poured into the album was lost on the listener. Though there was a level of artistic gratification that was packaged with completing that album, those details that made the process so tedious just didn’t translate to people unfamiliar with the work.
Shomo would apply his unique education in making the Beartooth’s fourth album. Locked away in his basement during the pandemic, he used the tools readily available to him but more importantly, he evaluated every song with the same criteria he learned from his experience in making Disease and working alongside Raskulinecz.
The result was a balance of artistic integrity and an understanding of efficiency – old school craftsmanship for a modern generation.
Listen to the complete conversation between clown and Caleb Shomo on the latest Electric Theater below.