For someone who is poor, struggling with any number of things, searching for meaning, transcendence….if they are able to reflect their real feelings into their medium, it’ll be medicine and someone else may be able to resonate and have it be medicine for them too. For someone who has wealth, and they have disillusionment, are still depressed, having to work on their own bigger questions that wealth cannot solve, mortality, their work can still have amazing power. It’s all about being 100% there. – Mike Scheidt
So much has been written elsewhere about Yob that it is hardly fair to call them the “next big thing” or “best kept secret in Metal” anymore. Yob in 2014 were nothing short of a presence, a band who follow their own muse and in the course of doing so have re-invigorated many other bands – unsure of what path to take in economic times of uncertainty – to do the same. You may be tired of music critics slobbin’ Yob’s knobs, but the band deserve every accolade thrown their way. Through depression, trials and tribulations and anything life throws at them, Yob prove the way out is through.
It was a pleasure to interview Mike Scheidt about one of the most revered and discussed metal records of 2014, the pure soul revolt of Clearing The Path To Ascend.
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Hi Mike. how are you today? How did it feel to release this massive next piece of the Yob puzzle?
Mike Scheidt: It’s been good to finally have it out there. It’s a mountain of work to release an album, from creation to recording to release, so yeah it feels great to be done and moving forward.
Clearing The Path to Ascend…the title reminds me of not only scaling a mountain but the Samsara baggage we collect in life, mental detritus. Was this kind of what you are getting at?
It has a personal meaning. It has to do with things I am trying to work through and grow beyond. The only way music I write feels authentic for me is if it’s dealing with subjects that are close to home. The other side of the coin is it may also teeter on being too revealing personally. But anything less doesn’t hit the mark. It’s hard to talk about it in print without it losing some of it’s potentency.
Between Atma and Clearing the Path you took part in the amazing and emotional Lumbar record. Did any of that energy maybe seep into this new Yob? The energy on Lumbar as well as the new one seems to really evoke placing value on one’s time and journey, though maybe I am just projecting how the music made me feel.
Aaron Edge is an amazingly deep and true person, and the energies he channeled into the Lumbar album are undeniable. We’ve known each other for a long time and have a lot in common. I can only imagine his struggles with MS, and have seen some of what it has done to him. That pain and frustration went into that Lumbar recording, and to watch him work through it was astonishing. The new YOB comes in part from my own struggles and desire to process and transmute hardcore depression into some kind of healing, to be positive and not be stuck. Our (Aaron and I) approaches to how we do that are cut from the same cloth, though to compare what I’m going through to his struggles with MS wouldn’t be fair to him. Even before he had MS, we both have the type of personalities that wrestle with our darkness…but trying to heal rather than wallow, and that pervades our music.
Are you conscious of Yob’s place in the heavy music spectrum or the expectations of others, or does that just distract from making music? Any advice out there for musician’s who are getting criticized during harder times when they are broke and “grandiose” for following their dreams?
We approach our music as “What would we write if no one watched or cared, for solely us?”. The music is very personal and it has to work completely in the four walls of our jam space for it to have any real lasting meaning or significance to us as a band. We are aware the band has grown a lot and more folks are paying attention than ever before. It is an honor and we are grateful for it. If we started playing to expectaitons or worrying about what people think of the music, we would weaken. Of course, when we’re playing a show we do our utmost to put on the best show we can. People went out of their way to be in that room and we will give them everything we’ve got. Being broke, well most of time we are broke too. We barely make enough to call it a “living”, and work days jobs. I’m the only one who doesn’t, but I also am involved in multiple projects, solo touring etc. And then I pick up temp jobs when I need to. It is harder than ever to make $ at this sort of thing. But we would do it anyway, so that is our focus. It is our passion, what we love to do. As it gets harder to survive as a musician, it makes it harder to look at touring etc when we have families to take care of, roofs to keep over our head, bills to be paid. So if I had any advice, it would be this: make sure you 190% love your music and what you do, and don’t settle for anything less. Take the outside world responses with humility and a grain of salt. If it’s not working in your jam space, it’s not going to work anywhere else.
“Marrow” comes in like the quiet aftermath of a storm. It is very moving and semi-wistful.
That song has been a real surprise for us. Not that we didn’t feel it all the way, but “Marrow” was definitely a wild card as far as not knowing how it would be received. It has been great to see a song from us like “Marrow” be embraced like it has.
How hard is it tracking longer songs like you are known for? Did the Neurot label/Neurosis folks give you a strict time table or as long as you wanted to create your next work if art?
The time table is one we set for ourselves, and then we worked with Neurot to keep it on the deadline. Neurot did not rush us in any way. As for song lengths, we’ve been writing and tracking 12+ minute songs since day one, so really it’s not a thought process we go through. It is our normal. We make sure we are rehearsed enough that we can play the song live from beginning to end to keep a live feel, and all of the ryhthm tracks are recorded at once.
Do you think embracing mortality is an inevitable part of life or is it possible to rattle against the cage and still find enlightenment of any sort? The new Electric Wizard, which I highly recommend, kind of deals with that theme in places, and I was interested in your thoughts on the matter.
Embrace it or not, mortality is a fact. So I’d rather embrace it and not take life for granted. I want to face my death with open eyes and as little regrets as possible, preferably none. If death comes suddenly and I didn’t do everything I wanted, I want to be living the life I want to live with no one who is close to me ever doubting that I love and cherish them. As for enlightenment or awakening, I know it exists. But if it does exist for me personally, it’s in my absence, it’s not for “me”. It is realizing “me” exists in a huge web of interconnected-ness with this world, the universe, and everything in it. It’s quite easy to forget. For those who are consistently aware of it and living from that, I would call them perhaps “awakened”, but the words can get in the way. I forget all the time. I’m working on it, and as I grow my views and definitions evolve.
How often do members of Yob spend time together that is not music related? Do you think that is important or do you already get enough of one another in “band mode”?
We all live in different cities, so getting together to hang can be a challenge. But every time we jam we spend half of the time goofing off and catching up. Sometimes we go grab food and beers. We’ve never had a problem as friends, because we put that first. The band serves us, not the other way around. We’ve gone through ups and downs together, and have managed to grow tighter over the years and that energy goes into the music.
I read a tweet from Ice-T recently where he was talking about not focusing on money and cars first and foremost but trying to do good work, as then the accolades and “rewards” flow in of their own accord, hopefully. Yob aesthetically to me stand as a contrast to modern life’s fast paced and shallow aims. Kind of like in politics, people look for short term solutions instead of fixing problems. Why don’t we play to win the long game when it comes to the peace, the economy, ecological well being or even art?
For most people, survival is not a given and it’s problems are in their face, bills are due and we don’t always know how we’re going to pull it all off month to month, to much worse. I doubt Ice-T has had to worry about the bills for a long time, but I agree with his view mostly. I think for any artist it’s always good to be clear about your motivations. For me art comes from reflecting my self, my observations, my soul, as it is. For someone who is poor, struggling with any number of things, searching for meaning, transcendence….if they are able to reflect their real feelings into their medium, it’ll be medicine and someone else may be able to resonate and have it be medicine for them too. For someone who has wealth, and they have disillusionment, are still depressed, having to work on their own bigger questions that wealth cannot solve, mortality, their work can still have amazing power. It’s all about being 100% there. But if in the short term someone is worried about their rent, health, food etc, it’s pretty hard to not be consumed by that. And so-called “rewards”, as in money, fame, respect etc may never come. So that goes back to motivations. For me, the art has to work on it’s own here and now. It has to be the salve that goes on the wound, scream or whisper whatever needs to be said. For myself. In the moment step by step the future unfolds and the more I can be present with my motivations, the better I chance I have to make positive lasting changes in my habits, be positive in the lives of my family and friends, in the world. It is huge, difficult work. But what else is there? I have so much to learn, it’s staggering. And I am guilty of sticking my head in the sand when it becomes too much, and fucking up. All I can say for sure is I’m on my path, doing my best. I don’t have any answers. I do tend to think that as long as our views aren’t world views and we don’t put the biggest focus on what we have in common, wars over religion, politics, resources are inevitable. There’s no one here but us chickens. I could be wrong on all of that.
Do you have a favorite Neurosis album, incidentally? Mine is usually Times of Grace, but it changes to Enemy of The Sun sometimes, haha. Do you remember when you first became aware of their music?
I bought Pain Of Mind when it came out, and it has had a lasting impact on me. I’d never heard a band like them, and I was hooked immediately. I was going to see them on that tour in Corvallis, Oregon. But someone got stabbed and the show was shut down before Neurosis could play. When Word As Law came out, they lost me. I didn’t get it. It took me a long time to catch up to what they were doing after that album. Lowell, our first bassist, turned me on to Through Silver In Blood and I dug it, but it wasn’t until Times Of Grace that I fully got it. Then I felt like an idiot. For me, I’d have to say every album has it’s flow and I’d hate to choose a favorite. Though A Sun That Never Sets has really been one I return to over and over. But that’s true of all of their work.
YOB’s Clearing The Path To Ascend is available now via Neurot Recordings HERE.
photos by James Rexroad