Yob

When I was on the operating table, I was completely disassociated. I left my body. I had a period of time when I was aware, but I wasn’t me at all. I had no history. I wasn’t a man, I wasn’t a father, but I was there. There was a lot of space—like infinite distance, like looking out over the ocean and it just goes and goes. I had this overarching sense of something that was aware of me being aware of it being aware of me being aware of it. But there was no separation.

Mike Scheidt is talking about a moment in early 2017 when he almost died. Suffering from an extremely painful intestinal disease called acute diverticulitis, Yob’s guitarist, vocalist and leading light was under the knife—and things weren’t looking good. “I think the surgeon was worried that I wasn’t doing well because it was supposed to be a three-hour surgery and they were on hour six,” he says. “I didn’t know this until months later, but they put Yob on in the surgery room as an anchor.”

It’s a tale that puts a whole new spin on the phrase Music saved my life. But as Yob fans know, Scheidt tends to be philosophical about these things. About everything, really. With possible outcomes that ranged from full recovery and partial recovery to career ending and even life ending, Scheidt pulled through and embarked upon an arduous rehabilitation process. “I was sailing on the fumes of Dilaudid and antibiotics,” he recalls. “I had an ileostomy bag for a while and could only play guitar for little chunks of time while I healed from the surgery, but I did it as much as I could.”

Aided by family, years of spiritual practice and a GoFundMe campaign set up by friends to cover expenses during his recovery, Scheidt emerged with a new Yob album and a new sense of purpose. “It’s like when your hard drive crashes—sometimes only parts of it are retrievable,” he explains. “That’s how it was for me. Some things just didn’t come back. Others came back in completely different ways. Others are still there but my perspective is completely different. I live in a different world now, and all of that went into this album—new insight, a new sense of self.”

That album is Our Raw Heart. “The album title hit me early that year, so I knew the lyrics would be informed by it,” Scheidt says. Though he declines to go into specifics—he’d rather the listener interpret the lyrics for their own unique experience—Scheidt does want to stress the collective nature of the title. “So many people came to my aid while I was recovering,” he points out. “It almost seems trite to say it was humbling, but I felt this heightened state of support and connection to people around the world who gave to me in many different ways so I could keep my head above water—whether it was encouragement, financial support or spiritual support.”

Scheidt’s old friends and bandmates, Travis Foster (drums) and Aaron Rieseberg (bass), were a key part of the communal process. “They were with me every step of the way—supporting, checking in with me, visiting,” he says. “When we were working out the material together, we did more demoing than we ever have in the past and we worked harder on the chiseling of the parts than we ever have before. So this album was informed by survival but also by this sense of joy of being able to still work and have ideas that became the next step in our evolution.”

The result of this physical and emotional rollercoaster—from surgery to recovery and writing to recording—is a Yob album unlike any other. “When I look at the different pieces, I can see where certain things are informed by The Unreal Never Lived-era Yob or The Illusion Of Motion-era Yob or later Yob songs like ‘Marrow’—but it’s like they’ve been bitten by a radioactive spider and became something else,” Scheidt offers. “It has a firm foot in where we’ve been, in honoring our history, but also a firm foot in some new things that are even more raw—particularly the clean vocal on ‘Beauty In Fallen Leaves,’ which is about as exposed as I’ve ever been, aside from maybe my solo record.”

As for how Our Raw Heart will be received? Scheidt is wise enough to know that it’s out of his hands. “I think every era of Yob fan will find something on there to dig—it’s just a matter of whether they can go on the whole trip or not,” he ventures. “And that’s none of my business. The music has a life of its own. It goes out there into the world and it’s gonna be received however it’s received.”

One thing is for certain: Scheidt’s undying gratitude to those who made Our Raw Heart a reality. “We had a joyous time writing this record, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of people all around the world who decided that we mean enough to them that they would take their time and energy and send it in our direction,” he says. “And now we have this album that’s built on not only what I went through but what everybody gave us.”

“This is album is a gift that was given to us.”

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