Beartooth on surprise Backstreet Boys-inspired track ‘Riptide’: “There’s no need to be scared of taking it too far”

"I wanted to make something really fun, that makes you happy and isn’t really fucking sad," Caleb Shomo tells NME of the track inspired by the likes of BTS and Ariana Grande

Beartooth have released a new standalone single ‘Riptide’, inspired by the likes of BTS, Ariana Grande and Backstreet Boys. Check it out below alongside an interview with frontman Caleb Shomo.

The new track represents a “clean slate” for the band, following on from 2020’s ‘Below’. Shomo told NME that “as much as I love that record and it was important for my life and my career, it was absolutely the most depressing and sad piece of work I’ve ever done.”

He continued: “[On ‘Riptide’] I wanted to do something to get me out of that headspace. I wanted to make something really fun, that makes you happy and isn’t really fucking sad.”

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Towards the end of 2020, Shomo went back and revisited a lot of the music that he loved growing up – including One Direction, N*SYNC and Backstreet Boys – as well as looking to their modern contemporaries like Grande and BTS to capture their “big pop vibes”. “I basically made Beartooth’s version of a dance song,” the frontman said of the resulting ‘Riptide’.

 

After four albums and an EP of bruising rock’n’roll, the musician said he was “very nervous” about sharing such a different vibe on a song. “This is a whole new thing for Beartooth and it’s pretty wild,” he said. “If I wasn’t nervous, though, then I’d know this isn’t the right song for us to release. It’s really important for where Beartooth is heading.”

Shomo told NME that he wants this stand-alone single to “catch people off guard” and show another side to him “other than just being fucking miserable and sad all the time”. He added that the new release is “just a really brash way to do that”.

As well as highlighting the pop side of Beartooth, ‘Riptide’ sees Shomo “making a statement to our listeners and to myself as a writer that it’s time for me to work through the shit I’ve been dwelling on for so long”. Since their formation in 2012, the band has been a vessel for the musician to “talk about exactly what I’m going through, no bullshit”. “A lot of the time when I was writing, everything felt very hopeless and dark, so that’s how the music came out,” he explained. “There was rarely a glimpse of hope.”

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This new single is very different though. “It’s me realising there are a lot of things I could do to help me feel better and feel happier that I just haven’t been doing,” he admitted. “I’m still letting that negativity out, but I’m now really working on being happier rather than just coasting along or letting my emotions run rampant.”

He continued: “Anyone who knows Beartooth knows I deal with depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with that my entire life – it’s just the way my brain is wired – but what’s changed is me deciding I’m going to do everything in my power to combat that.”

Shomo said part of that change has seen him asking himself what he loves to do and what makes him happy, drawing the conclusions of “making music and performing”. Every decision he’s made about his life since – he’s stopped drinking, quit smoking and has started seeing a therapist – has been in pursuit of making Beartooth the best possible version of itself.

Beartooth
Beartooth CREDIT: JohannRamos

When he went into the studio in December 2021 for his first writing session since ‘Below’, though, he wasn’t sure what he was going to write about. “It was absolutely terrifying because every Beartooth record so far has been brutal,” he said. “People connect to the pain and understand they’re not alone in that pain because I actually talk about it.” However, ‘Riptide’ poured out of him, with the frontman describing it as this “crazy, natural moment”: “I remember listening to it for the first time and crying in my basement because I couldn’t believe that song had come out of me.”

He added: “With this band, the lyrics have always had to scare me because if I didn’t go that far, then it probably isn’t important enough for me to say. I felt the same writing ‘Riptide’. I’m really opening up a part of my life to people that I haven’t really opened up before.”

Shomo said that he hopes the band’s fans find the single “empowering”, describing his own experience with the song as “outrageously empowering”. “That’s what a lot of the music video is about,” he said, referencing a video that sees him embrace his inner pop star with a few choice dance routines. “Whether people understand it or not, I don’t really care. That sounds like I’m being an asshole, but it’s about fucking empowering yourself. If it feels good, chase it. Don’t be scared of who you are and who you could be.”

‘Riptide’ wasn’t just a “huge part” in Shomo “deciding to continue that journey of getting healthier and chasing happiness”, but also gave him the confidence to know Beartooth isn’t done yet. “I’m done being scared of shit, especially with my own music,” he explained. “I just need to be honest. I have plenty of stuff I need to get off my chest so I wouldn’t expect any cookie-cutter Beartooth record anytime soon.”

Last year, Shomo told NME that he saw the first era of Beartooth ending with their fifth record to coincide with him turning 30. Now, he explained that ‘Riptide’ will help the band “transition” into that final stage of that first period. “Writing that song, I realised I just want happiness. That’s what this story has always been leading towards, I think. We all just want to be fucking happy and I know that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but I think the one thing we all have in common is that it takes hard fucking work to get there. It’s really worth trying that out, risking it and seeing what happens though.”

While ‘Riptide’ is a Beartooth pop song, Shomo is “still writing plenty of heavy shit” for the new album. “It’s still going to be a rock record but I’m trying to push the boundaries as far as I can go and dive deeper into what I love about each facet of Beartooth. There’s no need to be scared of taking it too far.”

Beartooth are on tour with A Day To Remember in US throughout the summer. Visit here for tickets and details

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