Mike Scheidt – YOB
YOB: Confinement Loaf
Meet the Masters of Doom
On November 13th, 2009 Confinement Loaf went on a pilgrimage to Albany, Oregon to see the critically acclaimed doom metal band YOB play a Friday the 13th Celebration concert.
YOB is: Mike Scheidt (pictured left), guitar, vocals and songwriting while Travis Foster is on drums and Aaton Rieseberg on bass.
Before the show in the cold and rain behind the bar out by the dumpster Confinement Loaf had the real pleasure talking with the “Master of Doom” himself, Mike Scheidt.
Confinement Loaf: Tonight, on our way here, we were listening to YOB, What, if anything were you listening to today?
Mike Scheidt: Yeah. I listened to Waylon Jennings Live and I listened to Black Witchery, Desecration of the Kingdom and Turin Breaks, they’re from Europe. I listened to Basement Jaxx, they’re English, techno/house. I [also] listened to some Bee Gees, some Black Crowes and I make mix tapes. Let’s see, Anima Damnata from Poland, they are a blisteringly brutal one of the most brutal bands ever. Yeah, and Mental Horror, they’re from Brazil, I listen to a lot of weird sh*t.
CL: You listen to a lot of music. Have you ever been a DJ on college radio in Eugene?
MS: The thing is, they’ve asked me to do a metal show but their metal show goes on at midnight and I’ve got kids, a job and a band. I’ve been offered it a couple times at the college radio station by my schedule is too hectic already to commit to another thing.
CL: You grew up in Eugene, Oregon. Did you listen to college radio when you were a kid?
MS: I didn’t have any concept of college radio when I was a kid but there was a metal show on the radio and I got turned on to a lot of stuff that way. I listened every Sunday night. That’s where I first heard bands like Slayer and Megadeth.
CL: Living in a college town, did you ever go to college?
MS: I went to college for a year, took off for a year, you know, went back for a year.
CL: What did you study?
MS: Well, at the time, I was in Theater and Music – then English. Then, right before I graduated, my first wife went into premature labor with twins and I couldn’t finish school and I just started being a dad. I didn’t start YOB until after I had kids. I also went to massage school and since then, I have a certificate for four years of training and testing to teach martial arts.
MS: Yeah, that’s right. I also work in an herb warehouse 45 plus hours a week and I teach and train in the evenings. We (YOB) practice once a week. We all live in different cities.
CL: You mentioned the increasing respect for metal today and the refined tastes in metal crowds…
MS: Yeah, I mean that can handle anything.
CL: Do you think that is because metal is 40 years old and there is a generation who grew up on metal who are now around 40 years old as well?
MS: Yeah. I’m 39. People who grew up with metal are now producers, critics, writers and their bands that have succeeded.
CL: Yeah, like the New York Times reviewing YOB and giving you guys repeated critical acclaim.
MS: Yeah! When I was a kid, you’d get beat up for wearing metal shirts. I remember being a metal kid and getting punched around for having long hair and wearing a Saxon shirt.
CL: Did you grow up playing music?
MS: No, not really, I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 15. I played bass in some hardcore bands. I was in some Dead cover bands, jam bands and played drums in some other bands. YOB is the first band I’ve ever played guitar in.
CL: So Mike, tonight you guys are playing a small local bar. Do you prefer to play small clubs?
MS: Yeah, I do but it depends on the show though. The thing with small clubs, well they have to survive, and they’re throwing in bands wherever they can. I tend to prefer gigs where it is us and bands we really like and often they share the same audience. Not even bands with the same styles but bands with which we share a mutual respect and have a mutual friendship with them and the crowd.
CL: How do you feel about audience response during your shows? I imagine every audience is different.
MS: I mean over the years people have gotten a lot more into it and the more people listen to our music. I mean there’s a lot more personal, emotional connection there. Our fans are very loving to us. Our fans are very important. They give us a lot. Our show is about connecting with them – all of us are there, in it together. These days, I mean, no one is walking in by accident. So people who are there can very easily connect with us, our music and we can connect with who is there.
CL: Do you ever have fights break out during your shows?
MS: Yeah, it seems it’s usually during the slow songs.
CL: Why do you think that is?
MS: They get a bit anxious and it stirs them up. That’s the only time I’ve seen fights break out is during the slow songs. It’s also the only time I’ve ever seen a [mosh] pit break out is during slow songs. It’s like this slow, circular, intense sway.
CL: You, Travis and Aaron all have fill lives as individuals, how does that work for YOB as a band? Composition? Ideas? Performing?
MS: I’ve always come up with the ideas. I don’t feel it’s so much the person who writes the music or who has the ideas as much as if my bandmates connect on it, feel it. The chemistry has to be there.
CL: When you write and compose, what order do you do you deal with the music and the theme?
MS: The theme and vibe are the most important and the actual words come later and the music has to fit. Riffs aren’t enough. I mean everyone’s got riffs. For me and the music I love, it has an overall aura and it has a very unique feel to it even though all the songs are different. It is a unified work, a whole feeling – an epic work.
CL: The epic album, the long songs – these are things that Pink Floyd and others have done. It is interesting to see a renewed interest in that.
MS: Yeah. Floyd, Rush, King Crimson, Isis and yeah, Led Zeppelin too, with more progressive work they all did epic works. When we started playing, I mean bands were doing long songs, I mean they weren’t that long maybe ten to twelve minutes. We were doing eighteen and twenty minute long songs.
CL: YOB’s latest album, “The Great Cessation” (2009) is very different than let’s say, your previous two albums. Is this album a progression for you?
MS: Yeah. In some ways. I think, for songwriting, for me it is. There are some things that are listenable for me, to me. There’s a cohesiveness that is something I like about it. I’m a better singer than I’ve ever been so I was able to be more creative. I can listen to this album. It’s definitely a darker record I think coming out of the lawsuit had something to do with that. A lawsuit was brought against Mike and his other band some years ago by an unknown band, and unknown to Mike, already head rights to that name. The effect was devastating to Mike’s band.)
CL: You took your name, YOB, from a Chuck Jones cartoon. Was that from a love of cartoons?
MS: No, not really. That was the name we picked that stuck. I just wanted a name that wasn’t literal I wanted it to mean whatever it meant to different people. Something that was a clear canvas; however, it turns out it wasn’t a clean canvas because it really means a lot of things in a lot of different places. Yob is a slang term in many cultures.
CL: YOB’s album covers are all very different. The cover of “The Great Cessation” looks like the lid to a box of expensive, poisoned chocolates. I think it reflects perfectly what is on the inside.
MS: Thanks! Yeah Aaron Edge did that for us!
CL: Were there any album covers that really got to you when you were a kid?
MS: The first time I saw “Number of the Beast” it scared the living sh*t out of me. I think was about ten years old. I love the covers of the old Yes albums.
CL: Any plans to release “The Great Cessation” on vinyl?
MS: Yeah, we’ve not announced it yet but Southern Lord is going to be doing our vinyl. It will be a double vinyl with two bonus tracks.
CL: It seemed odd that YOB wasn’t already on Southern Lord.
MS: He never liked us. The just never got us before. Profound Lore, who released “The Great Cessation”, has really been great. We don’t really tour, we all have busy and full lives and they are cool with that.
YOB went on after midnight and blew the minds of all 50 people that were there to see them. Thanks to Mike, Aaron and Travis for giving us YOB and for being super cool, nice people who definitely keep it real. -Confinement Loaf