Yob, along with Dark Castle and Indian, put on an amazing, unforgettable show last night. Keep your eyes peeled for my live writeup soon.
Hey I'm Jon from the Inarguable sitting here with Mike from YOB. He just played an amazing, hour and a half long set here at Subterranean in Chicago. Gosh it's been about six years since you played here? Does it feel good to be back?
Oh, incredible, of course. [Man from crowd walks up] Yeah, this is what it's about right here! [Hugs fan/friend...discusses Roadburn 2012]
So how's tour going?
Really good! It's a trip to be back out and, honestly, if you had asked me maybe 3 years ago if we were doing a US tour again I would have honestly said no. It's a crazy group of circumstances that made it happen again. Chicago, to answer your question, has always been really GREAT to Yob and we've had some of the greatest experiences of our lives playing here, so, if we were going to tour, of course we were going to play Chicago. We talked a lot about fly-outs and whatnot, but we figured we could drive here and play with Dark Castle and play with Indian, who are very old friends, and Will [Lindsay] who is a very DEEP, deep old friend. Will has seen Yob more than anybody so to be able to be here and hang out is fucking incredible. Thrilled.
I noticed while you were playing you would touch various chakras in your chest. Is the spiritual aspect very important to the live performance?
Well, I mean, I don't put a lot of thought into it, you know. It's just what I feel in my body in the moment; you know, like moving around and doing shit and exchanges with the crowd and exchanges with all this stuff going on. I feel certain things and I try to let 'em loose and that's kind of all I know. I mean, yeah, I have some knowledge around that, but as far as it being, like, something I think through...it's kind of different every night; wherever I feel energy, I try to let that out, that's all I know. It's “spiritual” but it's also...it's not personal, it's just all of us together. That's how that exchange hits me and that's how I express it in the moment.
It's the title of the album, you played the song of that title: what is ATMA?
ATMA's a term from the Bhagvad Gita and it's a Hindu term. It's a concept. I like concepts that are inclusive rather than exclusive. I like concepts that take in a much bigger picture of a much bigger picture of a much bigger picture. ATMA means an individual self. It also means a higher self within ourself within ourselves that witnesses us being us as an ego, as a person, and goes through all the changes we go through yet is unchanged by what we go through. It also means the self as in the totality, meaning every vibrating, stagnant, dynamic...thing. Really, there's no such thing as a “thing,” so, it's like rocks, stone, earth, heavens, stars, moons, frogs, every single eyeball that sees, every single ear that hears...all in one moment. So in other words, all in one moment, all of this is vibrating together and we have this illusion that we're individuals but it's all happening in one moment, in one part of time. It's not good, it's not bad; it lets us do our “goo-goo” and “ga-ga,” it lets us do politics, it lets us do religion, it lets us have our opinions and it doesn't get in the way, it doesn't support, and it doesn't deny. It's been around long before our ideas and it will be around a long time after, which I find incredibly comforting that this thing that we've created is just a miniscule glimpse of “what is” at any given moment, and that is what keeps me relatively sane. Speaking for myself, because lofty spiritual concepts, yeah, we can talk about them like some textbook thing, but it's not enough; it has to be personal. It has to be authentic, and what that means is that I, personally, as a writer, as a songwriter, as a person who's come up with these ideas am not a remotely perfect person. I have a goal, I have an idea as to what I'd like to hopefully become and share with the world and my fellow man and take also within from everybody else, but it's from the perspective of the path, it's not from the perspective of some lofty idea. It's from dirt and mud and trying to find the beauty in that and that's it.
This question might hit, like, a soft spot; the whole Middian lawsuit. (“Sure”) If that didn't happen, do you think YOB still would have reformed, or would tonight have been a Middian show?
I have no idea and that is the truth. Middian seemed almost...we had a rough time in general and the lawsuit definitely doomed us, and, you know, it's lessons learned. That's all I can rack it up to. You don't always have a say in what happens, all you have a say in is how you deal with it, how you learn from it and how you move forward. I think, given everything that happened, we're all happy people; we all feel happy with where we're at. For my part, you know, I'm not necessarily into shaking those guys' hands, but I've let it go. I just gotta move forward. That's all I have to say about that.
Will Lindsay: I've got to chime in on this. [Brandishes middle finger] Those motherfuckers can suck a dick and Metal Blade can suck a fucking dick, but this is a Mike interview.
Jeff [from behind the camera]: Thanks, Will.
Thanks, Will. So you've worked with a lot of people over the course of Yob and Middian; what are some qualities you look for in people you've worked with?
You mean as far as musically?
Friendship. Friendship. Friendship first, music second. Yeah, I mean, certainly I think I like to work with a caliber of musician who can support this idea and vision and allow it to flow and allow it to be personal. I don't want it to be someone who's a session player, I don't want it to be someone I just don't know who is a quote-unquote “good musician.” Riffs and music in itself isn't enough. It's not enough to make a lasting feeling for me or anybody in a room. It's about heart and soul and wherever that comes from, and I mean, I get that feeling from incredibly brutal, dark bands who mean it so sincerely that it sticks with me, and also bands that are incredibly ascended like Neurosis, you know, it sticks with me permanently. Or incredible pioneers like Cathedral that, love em or hate em, they're on their own trip and have been for twenty years; they've gone up and down and changed and done their own fucking trip and they mean it and it's authentic. That is more important than a riff. Anybody can write a good riff and it's not enough and that kind of connection with bandmates or, whether it be with a producer, an engineer, or an artist that does an album cover or whatever it is. That community comes first and if I don't feel that sense of community, I'll very happily shake hands and very happily try to make friends, but if it's not going to flow, it's not going to happen. Period.
Wow. That was very eloquent; I enjoyed that. I know you have to do that promo photo so I'm going to try and wrap things up. Why don't you tell us a little about the new album and how you might compare it to others?
Well, it's definitely a way rawer record; it's as raw almost as our first record. We really didn't spend a lot of time trying to be perfect; we spent a lot of time trying to dump a lot of energy and a lot of emotion. When I thought about how I wanted this record to sound and looking at this collection of this song, and it took be back to early Neurosis, or early Sleep, or early Cathedral, or the first High on Fire album that's very raw, and they're not perfect productions. Early Black Flag and early Poison Idea; they're not perfect productions but they're so fucking visceral and they're so, just [grunt], I mean there's so much tape hiss and, like, nuances that could be called “fuck ups” that I'd like to call “texture.” That's what I wanted for this album, so it's not mastered as hot as other records; it's not this picture perfect production like every other record. However, we dumped everything we had into it and my hope is it hits like that; it was a very selfish production. It might not be the production that other people want, but it's what we wanted to do and I feel really satisfied with it. As far as the songs go it's definitely the most “up-and-down” record we've ever done as far as weird dynamics and ups and downs. It's a hard-hitting record. It's the first time we've ever had a guest appearance, so six albums in we have our first guest appearance ever from Scott Kelly. We wanted to do like Tribes of Neurot drums and then, as he was there we were like “Oh, we gotta have you sing, too!” and he was like “Really, I don't know...” and we talked and was like “Alright, cool.” He wrote out his lyrics in, like 15 minutes and stepped up to the microphone and...Scott's so rad, you know; he's such a rad guy. It's like hanging out with all of us; chill. But then he started singing and we all got real quiet and we were like [shock and awe face] with a billion-year-old soul vocals; the Tom Waits of eternity. That guy just has a voice and we were all silent. And then it hit me that he was on our record and it was like “Oh my god...” So we were very careful; I did backing vocals and harmonies behind him. We were so careful to preserve what he did, but we also wanted to add things to him, too; have it be this whole vision that includes him instead of it just being the “Scott Kelly part.” He and I talked about it a lot and were in total agreement as to how it should be and it is one of my favorite things about the record and one of the best things I've ever done. For sure.
Well, uh, to close do you have any statements you want to make? Anything profound?
Eh, I guess, sure. [laughs] Thank you to anyone who supported us and given us anything at all. We feel really fortunate in that people that like us are very warm and receptive and hardcore. You could never possibly ever ask for it; we just feel incredibly privileged that that exists. We're stoked that people support us and they don't get really frustrated with the fact that we do so little. This tour is partly for everybody who's hung with us; it's our time to get out there and shake hands and really thank people outside of us. So, thank you. Very much.
And I want to thank you for the interview! You're a personal music hero of mine and it's awesome to finally see Yob live after almost seven years. It's uh...pretty incredible. Hopefully I'll get to see you again, soon.
Yeah, dude, I hope so, too. We have no goals, no ambition, and no idea what the future holds whatsoever. This could be our last tour; that's truly possible. It could be a string of five tours – we don't make plans, really, beyond a couple months. That's just how we exist and how we're able to keep it pure.
Well I'm going to end it here 'cause you have to take that picture with Will.
Yeah! [Metal horns at Will]
So yeah, thanks again; it was awesome to finally see Yob live and, [to Will] Will, Indian was awesome live as always.
And if Stevie sees this, Dark Castle was also awesome.
Dark Castle is amazing. They are, actually, one of the more important new bands. Nobody sounds like them. They're a doom metal band without a single pentatonic scale or a single reference to Black Sabbath. They are bringing something to the table that is different. There are things about them that are familiar, but I don't know any other band who writes exclusively in Hungarian and Japanese scales with zero accidentals. Nothing else exists like that. So, cheers to them.
Thanks to Mike. Probably going to upload this video and try to transcribe it later.
Yeah, I hope I was enunciating.
Many, many thanks to Mike Scheidt and everyone else who performed last night. Be sure to keep an eye out for Atma, which will be released later this year on Profound Lore and 20 Buck Spin records.