Eugene, Oregon’s YOB captivated the underground with 2003’s Catharsis, and now are set to conquer the rest of the world with this year’s The Illusion Of Motion. Released through their new home, Metal Blade Records, The Illusion Of Motion retains a healthy respect for the old guard of doom, while dragging the genre through realms of death metal, and Isis-inspired rumblings. When Mike called the Rebel Extravaganza compound in late October, and the thirty-minute time block shot past the forty-five mark, it was clear that YOB has one prime directive…to, as Mike says, “Let loose the heavy.”.
Rebel Extravaganza: So, first off, thank you for The Illusion Of Motion. It's really fucking great!
Mike Scheidt: Thanks, man! Believe it or not, we have the next one almost all the way written, and things are really picking up with this album too! I think it's the next logical step from Catharsis.
RX: How does your writing process usually go? Do things have to "marinate" for awhile, or does inspiration come all at once?
MS: Some come really quick. There's really no rhyme or reason to how things go with YOB. Like, ‘The Illusion Of Motion’ (the song) was written and done within about 2-3 weeks, over a couple practice sessions, and just me at home. Other tunes take awhile, because I'm super- picky. Good riffs aren't enough, there has to be a flow in order for it to be a song. We know we're not done with a song until there's that wicked grin. You know, where we're just smiling at each other through the whole song. Then we know we got it. If that doesn't happen, it goes back into the files to work on later. For me, there have to be peaks and valleys in a song, it has to take you somewhere. YOB can't just lay down a few riffs and call it a song.
RX: Before we go any farther in this, where did the name YOB come from? Feel free to stretch the truth, or just out and out lie.
MS: (Laughs) Actually, the name YOB originally came from a Chuck Jones space cartoon in the 1950s. It was the name the Martians called this Earth-child. It's "boy" backwards. Also, it's something ambiguous, and it's a name we can grow into and out of. It doesn't trap us in some certain style, or pigeonhole us, like say, the name "Dead", or "Poodle", or what- ever. (Laughs) We didn't find out all the other connotations of the name until after we'd had the name too long to change it! In England, "yob"'s been a down for a long time towards punks, and in Russia, "yob" means "fucked", so it works for that too! Boys, punks, fucked...yeah, it's all true at one time or another.
RX: Back to The Illusion Of Motion, was having both your shortest and longest song on the same album a planned thing, or did things just fall where they fell?
MS: I'd for sure say they just fell where they fell. When we start writing riffs, I'm never sure how long a tune's going to be. I'm way into intros, so I like to have that, like, buildup before the singing. There's a new song, though, where it just barrels from the start. Just, snap, and we're in. A song like 'The Illusion Of Motion' is twenty-six minutes, but it could have been twelve. Honestly, after 'Catharsis', I thought "That's it. That's our epic.", but through the writing phase of 'The Illusion...', it just became longer. Like, certain black or death metal bands, like Marduk with Panzer Division Marduk, or Krisiun's first album, it's just this barrage. I love those bands, and there are times when, as a fan of that style of music, I've gotta let loose the heavy in my own way. It's hard, though, because in the year 2004, there are so many great bands doing metal. I try to do something fresh and original, though.
RX: Who do you look up to vocally? On the new CD I hear everything from Dave Chandler to Steve von Till. Just today while listening, I caught a bit of Chris Cornell too.
MS: Yeah, I'm way into Soundgarden, especially the Badmotorfinger album. Neurosis too, have been a big influence vocally. There's alot of St. Vitus too. I grew up in the 80s, so there's Priest...some Halford, Jon Arch, and Ian Gillan. I'm a huge Ian Gillan fan! Even the work he did with Black Sabbath on Born Again. That might actually be my favourite non-Ozzy Sabbath album. I got into so many different kinds of that music all at once, because of my dad's record collection. He had a few Led Zeppelin albums, and maybe a Sabbath one. Then I started getting into Deep Purple, and The Obsessed, which I got into from the Metal Massacre compilation. There's also mid-80s Pentagram, Trouble, and bands more typically "doom". We really have been wanting to work up some wierd covers. Most of the ones I want to do aren't even standard doom metal at all. I thought it'd be a blast to do 'Disturbing The Priest', but there's that middle part where his (Ian Gillan's) voice just...I dunno, it's this obscenely high note. I mean, I've got an okay range, but it just seems like there's two people singing that part, and there can't be! We're trying to work on 'Comfortably Numb' too, maybe. We're playing that one pretty faithful to the original. There's also more metal stuff, but it's not something you'd expect from a band like YOB. Maybe something like something off of Bonded By Blood from Exodus, or some Possessed. You know, something where the old guys like us can sit out there and go "Damn, I can't believe they're doing that!".
RX: The chorus to 'Ball Of Molten Lead', and the line "...the truth to this bardo.". I may have been a bit under the influence, but what to Hell is a "bardo"?
MS: (Laughs) I’m surprised that one jumped out at you, man! A bardo is a term used in Buddhism. A bardo is a segment of life. The Tibetan Book Of The Dead goes into It, the bardos of life…the stages of life and death. More in depth, when you get into the places where the book deals with learning how to die. We go through time periods of trying to understand and remember who we are outside of this life. There are things like our jobs, marriage, and children that fluctuate, but there’s a truth that stays the same. On a different level, I guess, the best way to explain it is this way. There’s me, Mike, who is 34 years old, and lives in Eugene, Oregon, and is in this band YOB. There’s also this other Mike, though, who’s looking back at my past, and watching that, what went on that made me who I am now. In the future, he’ll be looking back at now, and at what will make me what I will be then. The conditions of this life are all temporary, but there’s a steadfast truth within now. Use life to live, and to ensure a good death.
RX: The credits say the new one was engineered by Jeff Olsen. Is this Jeff Olsen of Trouble? What was it like working with him?
MS: Nah, it’s not the same guy. I don’t know Trouble’s Jeff Olsen, as much as I’d like to. This Jeff is the engineer at Dogwood Recordings.
RX: Imagine you could insert YOB into any concert bill anywhere in the present or past. Who else would you put on the bill?
MS: Oh, man (Laughs)! Well, I know my temptation is to bring up bands from the past. As much as there are bands I’d love to play with from back then, for YOB in 2004, I’d have to say The Hidden Hand…and Immolation. So many of my discordant riffs are heavily influenced by Immolation.
RX: I know what you mean, man! Close To A World Below was it for me!
MS: Oh, totally! I’d put that album specifically, but Immolation as a whole in the realm of the craziest, most inventive in metal at all. They’re like the Voivod of death metal. I remember the first time I heard them, instantly, I was like, “This isn’t Suffocation. This isn’t Cannibal Corpse. This is something totally different.”.
RX: I kind of thought you’d be a closet death metal fan, because of some of the vocals on ‘Exorcism Of The Host’.
MS: Exactly, only I’m not “closet” about it at all! Three of the ones I’m really into now are Ophiolatry, Mental Horror, and Golem. Ophiolatry’s CD is called Anti-Evangelistic Process. They’re from Sao Paulo, Brazil. That’s one of my hidden treasures right now. It’s like if you took Krisiun and mixed it with (Immolation’s) Close To A World Below. They’re not as good as Immolation, but there’s incredible greatness. The newest Mental Horror is also amazing. Some of their stuff makes Krisiun seem tame by comparison, but somehow they manage to have songs. The other one is the new Golem. They have some great stuff, I’ve been playing that one quite a bit of late. Oh! I have a third band for my concert! I’d say Mastodon. We haven’t played with them yet, and I’d really like to.
RX: Yeah, Mastodon is so fucking great! I’d have thought you’d have played with them by now. Brann’s such a nice guy, and the rest of them are really great too. I was listening to Sabbath on the radio on the way to work today, and it just hit me how much Brann got from Bill Ward, with those constant drum patterns and fills.
MS: Oh, for sure! I didn’t get into Remission for a long time, and part of it I think was the drumming. Not that he’s not great, I mean the man’s a walking drum clinic. Sometimes, though, I wish he’d have slowed things down and left some space for the riffs to breathe. There are a couple places on that album where, as an evil scientist, I’d have liked to heard the power of just this crushing riff without the insane drums. I think he really found his balance on Leviathan, though. That’s where I think the band as a whole really hit their stride. And all that wasn’t to make a dig or say anything at all derogatory about Brann. If I was that good at my instrument, I probably wouldn’t stop playing either!
RX: How have things changed for YOB since signing to Metal Blade?
MS: Well, it’s funny how people see us now. Sometimes people are surprised we hang out at shows as much as we do. I started to feel this a little during Catharsis, where people would say to me, “Are you gonna stay for the whole show, like after you’re done playing?”. I was thinking to myself, “Of course I am!”. I hang out at shows to talk to people at the merch table, even at shows we’re not playing. That’s where most of the fanatics like you and I hang out. When we played, it’s like, “Yeah, we just got off stage a second ago, but I’m also a fan!.”. I don’t understand some bands. Like when we played with Fu Manchu, they stayed on the bus until time to go onstage. They waited until just before to come in. I just don’t relate to that at all. No matter how popular YOB got, I couldn’t do that. The way I look at it is, I’ve been wearing black t-shirts with my favourite bands for too long to act like I’m better than anybody wearing a YOB shirt.
RX: That’s good to hear. I’ve met a few real assholes in the business, but sometimes you come across people who are completely real, and who know that playing music for a living is a business, but they’re lucky to be able to do it. Wino’s one. I met him almost by accident at a Clutch show, and he was one of the most down-to-earth musicians I’ve ever met. Have you run into him yet?
MS: No, not yet I haven’t. The Hidden Hand played Emissions with us this year, but we were playing the day after them, and I was feeling kind of sick, so I stayed at the hotel that day to be ready for the next day’s show. I did get to hang out with Victor and Dennis from Place Of Skulls, though, and they’re like that too. I mean, Pentagram and Revelation… those are two doom gods in their own right. Anyhow, I was sitting there and I had said something about being nervous to just walk up to Wino, and they said the same thing you said. You know, a lot of these people you think are unapproachable, if you just go up to them as someone you appreciate, and not like some god, they’ll be really cool. Like this once, I had heard through the grapevine that Tool were YOB fans, specifically Danny Carey and Adam Jones. We had this show in San Francisco, and Danny Carey flew up from LA to see us. At the time, he was talking to this girl who was a friend of the band, but she swears she had nothing to do with it, that he had come to see us. Either way, we got to meet him. He’s really warm and friendly, and I was thinking, “This is how a real rock star should be.”. I even told him later on in the night that if he needed to leave, we’d totally understand. He said “Nah, I can stay a bit longer. Sometimes all the attention gets a little too much, then I have to go.”. Musicians like him, that are still connected, are inspirations to me.
RX: What's next for YOB in 2005?
MS: We’ve got a tour coming up in April and May, and we’re talking about the UK later in the Year. This is the first time in YOB history that an album has come out the same year we recorded it, so The Illusion Of Motion’s a pretty big thing for us. Even so, we’ve got the new record basically written. We’re gonna try and record it sometime in March. Also, we have three record release shows for TIOM coming up. We have one in Portland, one in Seattle, and one here in Eugene. There’s always bands coming through, so we stay pretty busy. Kylesa’s coming up…it’s all good stuff.