You might expect a band like Beartooth who just put out an album called Aggressive to be charging down the road toward Orange County blaring Satanic anthems from Slayer or Slipknot to get their blood boiling before tonight’s gig at the Observatory. But chances are if they rolled down the van window at a stoplight, their fans would be in for a loud, poppy surprise.
“I love Katy Perry, like so much,” says bearded guitarist Taylor Lumley. “Anytime we’re in the van and it’s my turn to drive, I’m always gonna spin ‘Teenage Dream’ or something like that.”
At first, we admit we were a little surprised by that revelation. But it’s not all that surprising when you consider the band led by Caleb Shomo have a penchant for catchy choruses that show at least some amount of love for pop music in the midst of all the crushing breakdowns fueled by pain and torment.
The sophomore album from the Ohio four piece showcases the tight, melodic hardcore sound they’ve developed since forming after the dissolution of Shomo’s previous electronicore band Attack! Attack! Even before that, Shomo was writing Beartooth songs that would become fleshed out by a full band including guitarists Lumley and Kamron Bradbury as well as bassist Oshie Bichar and former drummer Brandon Mullins (recently replaced by Connor Dennis). Following the 2014 release of their debut album Disgusting on Red Bull Records, the band have only gotten tighter as they hone in on their sound.
“We wanted to take what we already figured out about our band for our first record and take those and amplify them and make them even crazier,” Lumley says.
It’s a much easier task to accomplish when you’ve got the help of some outside pros. Though the record was mostly produced and written in Shomo’s home studio, Lumley says the band got outside influence from producer John Feldmann (known for working with The Used and Blink 182) who co-wrote the songs “Sick of Me” and “Burnout” with Shomo. David Bendeth (who’s credits include working with Killswitch Engage and Paramore) helped mix the album.
The band’s commitment to taking their career and sound to the next level also came through their opportunities to learn from major leaguers on the road, including Slipknot. It was a bit surreal this time last year when the band had Beartooth to open up for them on their tour with Suicidal Tendencies. They were the youngest band on the bill by at least two decades. While opening acts on major tours get treated like scrubs, Lumley says the multi platinum Corey Taylor and company treated them like equals backstage.
“They really didn’t have to and it would have been completely understandable but backstage everything was the same for everybody,” Lumley says. “It was cool to see that from a band that is massive like that. We’ve done tours with bands who aren’t nearly that big and had a bit of a rockstar attitude that was just kind of annoying.”
If anything, Slipknot’s kindness towards them was symptomatic of the Columbus, Ohio music scene, which yielded other major acts from Devil Wear Prada to Twenty-One Pilots who all came up around the same time as Beartooth and remain close with the band.
“[Twenty One Pilots] drummer Josh Dun used to be the guy you would get if your drummer quit,” Lumley says. “He was always willing to help anybody and play any show. It’s cool to see him doing what he’s doing now knowing where he came from. Everybody from that Ohio scene knows each other and hangs out.”
The is currently sinking their teeth into a new tour that will take them through 35 US shows before flying to Europe through the bulk of November. One thing that’s for certain is as they grow stronger and even more aggressive in the wake of their latest album, the only way to get where they want to be as a band is to travel there one show at a time.
“I feel like being on the road is what keeps us sane,” Lumley says.”Our whole basis for this band is we love shows, we love touring, that’s it for us. That’s always number one, we’ll play anywhere with anybody.”
Beartooth perform at the Observatory tonight with Everytime I Die, Fit For a King and Old Wounds. For full details and ticket info, click here.