Yob is a doom metal band that’s been gaining fame since mid-90’s, with a total of seven albums through labels including Metal Blade, Profound Lore, and more. Their most recent release, Clearing the Path to Ascend, was ranked as the best metal record of 2014 by Rolling Stone. We spoke to founding member, vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, as he delved into topics such as their last album, Neurot Recordings, Housecore Horror Fest, Roadburn Festival and his favorite albums of the year.
It’s been a bit over a year since the release of Clearing the Path to Ascend was released. Reflecting back on the writing and recording process, was there any aspect that stood out?
When we finished the album and were handing it over to Neurot, I truly honestly wasn’t clear on if it was any good. We threw everything we had at it and we were satisfied in that regard, but I didn’t have a sense of objectivity towards it. Looking back on how well it was received, it really was a wonderful surprise.
There was a huge positive reception from both critics and fans and I think it’s safe to assume that the album may be the strongest in your catalog. Is this something you agree with?
I don’t know, I’m not very objective with these kind of things. I think there is an arc of evolution from album to album. As we get better as a band, our back catalog gets better when we’re playing live. We’re doing sets with songs from a lot of different albums. Tracks like “Ball of Molten Lead,” “Grasping Air,” “Cosmos,” “Catharsis,” or “Pain of I,” just really works with the new material. The new album definitely had some unique aspects and it worked out well.
The fact that you chose Neurot Recordings to release the album I think was a very interesting decision. Can you discuss this choice and the impact it had?
I’ve known Scott [Kelly] since about 2003 and met Steve [Von Till] later when we played with Neurosis. They made it known to us that they would be open to doing a record with us. That itself was an honor, but we were still in the process of doing albums with Profound Lore. We were writing the material for Clearing the Path to Ascend and it just became an epiphany that we should release it through Neurot. We’ve worked with some really good labels, but handing the master over to Steve and Scott was one of the most nerve-racking things I’ve done just because I respect them so much as artists. And they signed us without even hearing any of the material from the record, so thankfully it has been very well recieved from them and more.
Your tour with Black Cobra will start in a few days. What can fans expect from your live show this time?
We’re definitely going to be changing it up. We are still touring for Clearing the Path to Ascend, but we’ll be incorporating some songs we haven’t played in awhile.
You’ll also be performing at the Housecore Horror Fest in the midst of the tour. What bands are you looking forward to seeing that night?
There’s bands I’m hoping we could see, but sadly since we’re on tour we’ll only be able to see one night. I love Autopsy, Suffocation, Negative Approach, and Author & Punisher. There’s quite a number of bands that are jaw-dropping. It’s hard to wrap my brain around such a good lineup.
If you were in charge of creating the lineup, who else would you add?
I think Conan would be a hell of an addition to that lineup. Certainly U.S. Christmas and Wake. I haven’t seen Wake in forever and I would love to see them on a bill like that and watch them demolish everybody. They are one of those bands that are untouchable in their own reality. There’s no one like them live.
There’s been some really great albums released in 2015 so far. Are there any recent releases that you are really enjoying?
I love the new Cruciamentum record [Charnel Passages] that came out on Profound Lore. Also, the new Perdition Temple [The Tempter’s Victorious], which came out earlier this year. New Dopethrone [Hochelaga] is really kickass. I’ve had the opportunity to hear Dead to the Dying World [Litany]. Eight Bells has a new album that’s not out yet. Mgła is a super good band and has a new album [Exercises in Futility]. 2015 is looking pretty awesome.
When YOB first formed, do you think there is one pivotal band that shaped your approach to music?
I don’t think there was one to be honest. I think YOB’s very existence is really about a conglomeration of influences. Trying to combine Immolation with Sleep seemed like a really weird concept. I can honestly state that Immolation had a big influence on how I wrote certain chords or progressions just like how Sleep had a heavy influence as well or early Electric Wizard, Pentagram, King Crimson, and Burning Witch.
Has your musical taste or favorite band changed since those early days?
I still like a lot of the bands that got me into playing the style of music that YOB is built on. Very few of them have fallen to the wayside. I still listen to Sleep’s Holy Mountain, Electric Wizard’s Come My Fanatics…, Supercoven, Cathedral’s Forest of Equilibrium, The Ethereal Mirror, or Soul Sacrifice. Those albums still hold up for me and I haven’t lost interest in them.
You’ve been active in YOB for almost twenty years now. Is there one specific moment that stood out to you?
There’s been quite a few moments of time that felt like we were a part of something much more than we ever considered would take place. It’s hard to pick out one moment. I do think when we were finally able to play Roadburn in 2010 and getting to see all the bands that were there, it just sparked our ability to play in Europe and away from home. It was a moment that changed us forever. There’s so much heart to it.
After this tour, do you guys have any plans for the rest of the year or thoughts towards new music?
We have two shows booked on New Years in Vancouver and one in February in Portland for Sabertooth Festival. Aside from that, we don’t really have any concrete plans. We’ve been really busy for awhile, so the balance of time between work, family, music, and having enough space to have momentum in writing comes up.