Yob’s not-so-dark alliance

The members of Yob make gloomy doom metal but their outlook on life, art and music is refreshingly down to earth

“My metal sound is <i>this</i> big.”

“My metal sound is this big.”

photo by James Rexroad

Catch Yob on Wednesday, March 4, at the Press Club, 2030 P Street. Will Haven and Church are also on the bill. Cover is $15. More info at www.facebook.com/quantumyob.

The act of making a living but also bucking musical trends has, until lately, proven to be a struggle for one of doom metal’s great, relatively newer bands, Yob.

When the group formed in 1996, its members were all the about the music—not mainstream success—and that ethos carries on to this day.

Years later, the band’s steadfast desire to play a darker style long relegated to more obscure groups has finally gained popularity. While bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, St. Vitus and Cathedral all played a vital role in the scene many years ago, those bands also eventually changed to meet more commercial appeal.

“For a band that does our style of music, there is a gross perception that we’re bigger than we are. We’re still a very DIY and punk band by nature,” explained singer-guitarist Mike Scheidt during a recent phone interview. “We’re in a position to make smart choices that are better for the long term when it comes to touring and releasing records.”

Scheidt’s Eugene-based trio, which is rounded out by a rhythm section comprising Aaron Rieseberg on bass and Travis Foster on drums, is now touring again with a new record under its belt. Clearing The Path To Ascend was released on Neurot Recordings in September 2014. Its release has helped the band gain an even bigger fan base, Scheidt said.

“The response has been overwhelming. … We’ve seen many year-end lists with our name on it and heard lots of good words,” said Scheidt.

Fans who waited for Yob’s latest album, a four-song full-length with songs clocking in between 11 and 19 minutes, should note that the three-year hiatus was intentional.

“We’re not in the business of putting out music. There are lots of bands who suffer from putting out too many records,” Scheidt said.

Moreover, he added, the band only tours three months a year to keep itself grounded in its members’ family lives.

“Everything is good these days. Our focus is on each other’s health and friendship first and that makes the ups and downs much easier,” Scheidt said. “Our goal was and is to tour when we want and make the best music possible.”

For the uninitiated, Yob play a heavier brand of music that’s steeped in slow, sludgy tempos, obnoxiously heavy riffs, and oft-repeating, droning lines.

Over the years, the band has released multiple records on several different labels; Scheidt says that was always their plan.

“We had some good times on Metal Blade Records, but we have had a better experience on the smaller Profound Lore and Neurot labels,” Scheidt said. “Metal Blade came to us and we turned ’em down the first time and then [label head] Brian Slagel went out of his way to get us on board.”

The pairing, he added, didn’t turn out well.

“We ended up feeling like the bargain bin of his label. When we change labels now it’s just because we like change and don’t want to bind ourselves to four-album deals,” Scheidt said.

Whatever the label, the band’s enjoying bigger audiences lately—in 2014 the group joined Pallbearer for a U.K. tour, for which they were able to easily fill 500-700 capacity venues. The band’s consistently drawing larger numbers in the United States as well.

“We do well in quite a few places. … We’re not suffering like we did on previous tours and touring is much better for us now,” he said.

Ultimately, he said, the album-touring schedule—commercial success or not—is about doing what they want, all while striking the ideal life/work dynamic.

“We have a knee-jerk reaction against the norm and want to have a balance of real family life and the band,” said Scheidt, who handles the band’s business and management. “I have three kids and I don’t want to do this if it feels like punching a time clock.”