Instantly recognisable as one of the seminal bands in modern doom metal, Yob are an unrelenting powerhouse of crushing riffs and meditative atmospheres. However, the trio was almost brought to its knees in January 2017, when inimitable frontman Mike Scheidt was hospitalised following a severe attack of diverticulitis (an intestinal disease). Following several surgeries, Scheidt made a full recovery and, determined to carry on, Yob were back in the studio to record their eighth full length album ‘Our Raw Heart’. “We started out the year not knowing if we were going to be a band anymore, and then we ended the year with our eighth album in the can. Given how dramatic some of that was, particularly at the beginning of the year and really having our future be uncertain for many months, to then just have the flurry of activity that ended up in the album, it’s definitely a trip to look at it”, says Mike, “So, I think, while we were working on the album, we just had a sense of elation, just that we were doing it, and that we were really inspired. A lot of things deepened for us in that process of our friendships, and our focus had, on one hand, a sharper focus, but on the other hand, there’s a lot of space and freedom and joy around it, too, really. Just that it was a ‘to be continued’ and that there would be more.”

‘Our Raw Heart’ is very much business as usual in terms of Yob’s sound, encompassing seven tracks wrought with emotive tension and lead weighted guitars. However, amidst the big album ballads is previously unchartered territory for the trio – having had a preconceived notion of what they wanted to go for before entering the studio, they left with a record that none of them had expected. “It shifts around, what my favourite tracks are. I go in between ‘In Reverie’ and ‘Lungs Reach’. Even those we’ve split up as separate tracks on the album, they play as a whole when we play them live. ‘Beauty in Falling Leaves’ and also ‘Our Raw Heart’, I think. I go back and forth on those being favourites, but I love them all. When we’re in practice playing them, every single one just feels great. I think with ‘Beauty in Falling Leaves’, for example, there’s definitely some moments where it’s very exposed, more exposed than I think we’ve ever been in an album”, Scheidt reveals, “It’s pushing into a different vibe and territory, while still playing on a theme that we like to visit, which is big album ballads, I guess, for lack of a better way of describing it. I really like that. ‘Our Raw Heart’, the song, the tail end part having to be just a big, cosmic free for all. We’ve never done that exactly before, either. We did a lot of really cool, fun things to arrive at that sound landscape. I still really dig listening to that, too. It was really in the moment process in the studio, where we had a pretty good idea of what we were going to go for, but what we ended up with was something that none of us had preconceived exactly.”

For most that have been through an ordeal such as Mike’s, they would fall back on the generic response of having a bigger appreciation for life and approaching their music with a new found lease of life. However, for Yob it’s simply a bump in the road and one which hasn’t slowed them down. Mike remains stoic as ever and is determined not to dwell on the past or allow it to shape his creative vision. “As far as future releases go, the way that we view ourselves and the band is, there’s the band, and then there’s our lives that are outside of the band. We do our best to have a balance in those things, so that when it comes time to start writing, that there’s a place to write from that is rooted in family time and in our passions that are outside of the music. Then, we bring all of that and whatever growth into the new music, so we write from that place”, he tells us, “It’s never about trying to recreate anything. It’s about just being present with wherever we’re at in that process and then bringing that forth. There are definitely, speaking for myself, lessons that I’m learning in the process of recovering from my surgeries, and managing my health, that I do think are going to carry on into life, for me, as I move forward. And, as such, with different perspectives and that kind of focus, I can’t imagine it’s not going to play out a little bit in the future albums, but I think it’s not going to necessarily resemble what this album is, or any past albums, either.”

Dick Gunn was Mike’s guitar mentor and much of the sound that Yob currently possess is owed to him, as well as the strength and bravery that Mike exhibited while going through multiple hospital stays and surgeries last year. Sadly, he has passed away, but given the choice to play ‘Our Raw Heart’ to anyone, Mike would choose him, as he wants him to hear the music that he helped to inspire. “He is a guy that I worked with in a guitar shop for about nine years. I learned how to play country swing and country blues form him. Not very well, mind you, but I picked up a lot of techniques from him that my guitar playing would not be what it is, it wouldn’t have its particular weird approach without him”, Scheidt reveals, “He was a mentor to me, not only musically, but just as a person. Just his strength of character and his deep love for music and playing and for his friendships and family.”

With every Yob album and live performance there’s a certain expectation of what you’re going to get – the band are well aware of this and aim to deliver what’s expected of them with each release and show. Yob’s ambitions aren’t at all lofty – they aim simply to play from the heart and connect with the people listening. “We don’t have to be on stage and try to necessarily win anybody over or any kind of narration or subtext that we have to carry around subconsciously or consciously. We can just be on stage and be ourselves, and there’s a crowd there that knows what that is, and wants to be with us in that and share in it”, Mike explains, “We get to have this exchange of energy that I enjoy quite a bit. We don’t have to try to be the next contestant on The Price is Right with our music. It’s not about being overly ambitious. We can just be ourselves and our crowd is just naturally growing and coming on the ride with us, and us with them. I’m really grateful for that.”

Yob are a force that have proven themselves to be indestructible, possessing a sound that is worthy of being a genre within itself. It’s been a long and trying four years since the release of ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ with a maddening amount of uncertainty, however, the trio are stronger than ever and every bit as much excited to be back as their fans are. “Looking forward to seeing people on tour. Can’t wait to come back. It’s been a long time since we’ve been out, and it feels overdue for us, and we’re especially glad to be coming out with new music. We can’t wait to share it”, Mike says, “Also, to play with great bands and check out new bands. That’s a very big part of what’s great about being able to get out there and tour again, too. So, looking forward to it, very much.”

(Interview Angela Davey)