YOB: The Unreal Never Ceased, Pt. 2: An Interview With Mike Scheidt

Was there a time when you sat down with Travis and Aaron and said, ‘This is what the band is going to be?’

It was already understood, because when Travis and I first started, it was kind of like, ‘Well, this is where we left off,’ which was, ‘We can’t do these big huge things like we did before, we can just pick and choose.’ When Aaron came in, we made that clear to him. Aaron has another band called Norska and he has some commitments with that and he’s also a full-time student, so yeah, this is gonna work just fine. Plus, the opportunities that are coming our way are so rad. They’re just exactly what we want to do. Like the Planet Caravan fest, and we’ve been made an offer from Roadburn—a really good offer. Then there’s a number of booking agencies in Europe that have been wanting to have us come over sometime next year for small trips, two week trips, two and a half week trips, so it’s like these things I did and some of the shows that we’ve done like San Francisco and Seattle and Portland. We got an offer from somebody in New York City to fly us out to do a show, just a show, so it’s like, ‘Wow, we get to play all of our best shows that we had as a band anyway and not have to be on the road for weeks at a time. Okay.’ (laughs) I had a lot of great times in the Midwest too, don’t get me wrong, but 14 and 16-hour drives? Nobody likes that, I don’t care how into the road they are. (laughs)

It’s only been a couple years, but have you gotten a sense of the reception to YOB changing since coming back? It seemed like after the band was done it suddenly got bigger.

Oh yeah. It’s really a trip, man. Seriously. It’s the weirdest classic scenario, where the band goes away, the band announced that we broke up, and our fans already are like, ‘What? Ah…’ just like I’ve done many times when my favorite bands disbanded, you hold a candlelight vigil listening to all the records, and then there’s a bunch of people that are like, ‘Who broke up? Who’s this?’ and so they go on and they go check it out and they go, ‘Oh wow, I would have really liked this. I would have really liked to have seen this band.’ Just over the years and as those records circulated around—music has kind of a life of its own. You record it and create it and put your life and soul into it and put it out into the world, then if you’re lucky, it circulates around and becomes its own thing and it’s not really any of your business anymore what it does. People do things with it. People climb into it in their own way, and for us, it really has grown quite a bit. Shit, for us to be reviewed in The New York Times? Seriously? That’s crazy! To do things like that, to have places like Pitchfork actually pay attention, we’re just like, wow.

In our heyday, things like that just weren’t going down. Shows with airfare and hospitality and hotels. Wow, I hope we’re good. We better get up there and deliver if people are paying money to see us. It’s very different, but at the same time it’s not, because 90 percent of what it is, is we live in small towns in Oregon. It’s like a cyber-reality. We read interviews and get email and it’s cool and all, but the daily reality is we’ve gotta sweep parking lots and take care of the kids and wives and all that stuff, so we’re kind of removed from it too.

The song that sticks out to me lyrically on the album is ‘Breathing From The Shallows.’ Lyrically it seemed much more grounded than some of the other tracks on The Great Cessation. What’s the story behind the song?

Well, that was the first song I wrote straight out of our lawsuit. I think I wrote it actually maybe at the tail end of it while it was still happening. In my mind, that might have been the first YOB studio-only song, and so I think that being wrapped up in this scenario where you’re trying to escape persecution. It’s so hard not to—the details are very public about how it all went down. But it also, to me, it still ties in lyrically and symptomatically to what I’ve wrote about all along, which is about kind of how human nature and my own human nature connects in with the bigger picture. Where usually it goes that my magnifying glass has gone from micro to the macro, that one is in the other direction. But you know, I said some things in it that I wanted to say, and it’s all good. I read those lyrics and go, ‘Yeah, that’s what was going on.’

There was more. We went on to discuss future songwriting and The Great Cessation’s artwork, among other things. Scheidt made clear how much he believes bassist Aaron Reiseberg’s contributions have helped reshape the band and hinted that there may be another YOB record in 2010. Here’s hoping.

YOB’s The Great Cessation is available now on Profound Lore Records. For more info, check out myspace.com/yobdoom.

JJ Koczan just does his thing, man, and that’s all there is to it. jj@theaquarian.com.