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09 Aug 2018

Metal With Meaning: A Near-Death Health Crisis Helps Mike Scheidt Create Yob's New Album

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Yob. Yob. James Rexroad

In 2017, Yob frontman Mike Scheidt almost died from diverticulitis and a staph infection. However, the extreme trauma led to something good: While confined to his hospital bed, he penned most of the music on the metal group’s new album, Our Raw Heart.

Scheidt has recovered—Yob will be stopping by Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, Sept. 8.

During a recent phone interview with Scheidt, he talked about his nearly fatal bout with diverticulitis in early 2017.

“My sigmoid colon ruptured, and I almost died from it on multiple occasions,” Scheidt said. “I had two surgeries and was able to survive it with my bandmates, and we received a lot of help from our family and friends worldwide. I was already working on an album prior to getting sick, and then after getting sick, that album … came into better focus, and I was able to finish it up.”

Personal material, however, is nothing new to Scheidt and Yob.

“This is stuff I’ve been writing about since our demo in the late ’90s,” he said. “I’d say over the past couple of decades, I was getting better at it, but I’m not sure, given I’m not very objective about those things. … From day one in Yob, I’ve written songs that come from Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Peruvian Shamanism and stuff inspired by Emerson and Blake. It’s always had a spiritual bent, but it’s always been from the perspective of an imperfect perspective—meaning not trying to sell anything to anybody, and actually being on a path and working through things in the mud that would be considered lofty, or things that have a shiny spiritual quality. … It’s not about trying to paint a pretty picture, but trying to get to a more empowered, aware and better place to live.”

Scheidt said he’s more mindful of his health these days.

“I have to follow a healthy routine, but I’m doing well,” he said. “I don’t know what recovery looks like. I’m not the same as I was. In some ways, I’m stronger; in some ways, I require some maintenance. But it’s a small complaint to have, if there is one. It forces me to have consistently healthy habits, and I can stand to have that anyway. I carry around a little bit of uncertainty, because I know things can go off the rails. But that was no different than before. It informs of truths that were already there; it’s just that I have gotten up close and personal to those truths, and they have a bit of a different meaning to me.”

After traveling around the world, Scheidt said he has realized it’s important to share with others.

“What I find is that sense of kinship with people where maybe we haven’t met before, but we have similar albums in our collections that we’ve listened to for decades,” he said. “We share that love, and certainly our experiences in music and culture are no doubt  informed by where we came from. … (No matter) where we were born, what kind of religion or politics or upbringing in general, we can both still say that we love Melvins or King Crimson. That love is an identical love.

“… It’s interesting to go to places where scenes are insulated, but it’s rabid and fanatical in the love of music in general. The couple of times we’ve played in Athens, people lose their minds and go bananas. I’ve had those experiences in Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Croatia and certainly in the United States. There’s something about music in general that’s not about any kind of boundaries of country.”

Scheidt said he wants people to hear his music—no matter how they get it.

“For me when I was growing up, it wasn’t easy to hear music. If you could buy music, cool. But there was tape-trading. It was literal tape-trading: people recording albums onto tape, making their own compilations, and trading them around with each other. They’d send tapes via U.S. mail, send tapes to Europe, and get tapes sent back from Europe through pen pals before the internet. I think there are some places where that’s still very much true, like South America. … If they’re selling the stuff online, we kind of say, ‘Eh, please don’t do that,’ but if people can’t get the stuff and make it for themselves, we’re supportive of that. That’s a time-honored tradition that I grew up with. With the internet, any album you want is at your fingertips, but at the same time, it’s still about community, word of mouth and people turning each other on to different music.”

Scheidt said he tries to keep up his new, healthier lifestyle while he’s on tour.

“(There’s) a lot of reading, some meditation, some push-ups, and we occasionally get to places early so we can see the lay of the land,” he said. “None of us live very hard on tour, so it’s not like we’re spending a lot of time recuperating from the night before; we’re all pretty much health-oriented. We party some, but we take the show very seriously, and that requires having some balance on the road so every show can be as good as it can be.”

What was the last book Scheidt read?

A Book of Longing, which is Leonard Cohen’s book of poetry that he wrote when he was in the Zen Buddhist monastery.”

Yob will perform with Acid King and CHRCH at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 8, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53668 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

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