Photo Credit: Orion Landau
Seasoned Oregon Rockers, YOB, have been an influential twist in the world of Doom Metal ever since 1996. The guys are gearing up to release their eighth full-length studio album, ‘Our Raw Heart’, which takes listeners through the abyss of enlightening and life-changing experiences. I caught up with Vocalist, Mike Scheidt, to discuss ‘Our Raw Heart’, tips for being on the road, tattoos and more.
Congrats on the upcoming release of your eighth full-length album, ‘Our Raw Heart’. Tell us about your experience with the creative and recording process this time around.
Mike: Half of the writing process occurred when I was ill, and it was a combination of joy, groundlessness and uncertainty that went into that part of the writing. There was no guarantee I was going to survive, or to what degree I would be able to sing, perform, record, or if I was going to be able to do any of it. So each writing session was kind of an arrival in itself. My sense of goals around the future was tempered by the potentialities of the situation. It sounds grim, but in truth, I had many joyous experiences writing from this place. Once Aaron and Travis and I were able to get together, from there we practiced constantly, demoed more than we ever have before, and really had immensely wonderful times working on the music. Our excitement about the new music was a driving force. Our friendships have grown. That all led into the studio experience, which was the greatest experience we’ve ever had as a band in the studio. We used mostly analog recording, and digital for vocals, guitar solos, and mixing. All of the rhythm tracks were recorded live, each in one single take. We did a couple of alternate takes of certain tunes, but they were all done live as a band.
Mike, you encountered a life-changing experience that has shifted your perspective and has given you new insight into your view on life. If you feel comfortable doing so, share with our readers how this experience has served you in hindsight.
I’ve talked about this a lot in many interviews, but it can be distilled down to this: no one knows when their last good day is. Anyone’s last good, healthy, life-as-you-know-it day is on the horizon. It’s a fact. For me, having experienced my own mortality first hand, receiving a courtesy call from mortality, has made me aware of not only what I want to do before I die, but in what spirit do I want to live it in. My life can be just as easily measured in what I’ve taken for granted as it is in what I’ve done with my life. I endeavor to take less and less for granted and learn about my own mind and it’s hang-ups so I can live better, be of benefit, and meet death with open eyes.
Photo Credit: Orion Landau
Tell us about some of the tricks you have learned over the years to keep you going strong on the road that we can share with bands that are just beginning to tour.
Drink water, lots of it. Get a salad in every couple of days. It’s not all about you, so find a compromise with your bandmates. Attack jaded clubs and in-house FOH with courtesy and being generous with kindness. They’ve worked with 20 other bands that week, and no they don’t HAVE TO care about you. If you’re decent to them, they often soften up. If they don’t, so what? Play the show to the best of your ability and don’t act an entitled ass. Bring probiotics or digestive enzymes on the road. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. Before you lose your cool, take a walk. If you lose your cool, make amends. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the crowd; play so hard that you’re utterly exhausted and need food immediately afterward. Don’t hog the stereo, and don’t blast music all the time. Give your ears, and your bandmates a break. Again, it’s not all about you. You’re a part of a circle. Respect yourself and respect your fellow humans, no matter “who” they are. Again, drink lots of water.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you worked with to bring them to life.
My favorite tattoos have been done by Stevie Floyd and Mike V. Steve tattooed my right forearm with waves and water like a traditional Japanese piece. But instead of cherry blossoms, there are eyes all throughout the waves, with stippling in the eyes like Indian henna. It’s very colorful and bold, and some people have found it unnerving haha. Mike V did my other forearm with an amalgamation of images from Tibetan tankas with lotus flowers, mountains, clouds and leaves. I love this piece so much. Jimmy Singleton in Eugene Oregon has tattooed my hands and fingers with lotus flowers and eyes, and my Stay Awake hands tattoo. I’ve also received wonderful work from Igor Mortis, Bonnie Jean, Dr. Julien (who did both my Sleep and Cathedral tattoos). I’m VERY slow to get tattoos. My shins are next.
Are there any up and coming bands that you’re enjoying at the moment that you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Opium Lord from Birmingham, England, Infernal Coil of Boise Idaho, are two that immediately come to mind.
What is your perception on the current state of Metal?
That is it healthy and as alive as it ever was. There are so many kick ass bands out there, with music that is pushing for new horizons. Sometimes I wonder if metal is in danger of taking itself a little too seriously and risks becoming a parody of itself. So-called “rules” and “trve” such and such. If Black Sabbath was worried about conforming to some sort of laid out rules, well, we wouldn’t have Black Sabbath. Or heavy metal. That said, I’ve been listening to metal for 35 years and generally choose to focus on what I like, and leave the scene “rules” out of it. I am my own person, dress how I want, listen to what I want, period.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Hubbard
If you could sit under the table and listen to any two human beings have a conversation, who would you choose and why?
The Dalai Lama and Donald Trump. Enough said.
What is your idea of a life of happiness?
One that is conscientiously lived, where everything is questioned, where joy and kindness are not dependent on conditions, living not by the tyranny of conditioned mind. Natural happiness arises easily and spontaneously when fully present. It’s a free-flowing happiness that isn’t found in extremes. From there, whatever a person does, healthy energy will be found there and their work, whatever it is, is a symptom of good living. That idea is a work in progress, ask me again when I have a better clue, if I ever do!
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?!
We can’t wait to get back on the road and share rooms and decibels with whoever comes out! Thank you always and forever.
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