It’s always great to talk music and records with fellow Vinyl Junkies, especially with artists and others who are close to the medium we all love. We recently chatted with Mike Scheidt of YOB, who are currently on tour in North America. He shared his thoughts on the industry, from the perspective of a touring artist, as well as some early vinyl memories.
What started it for you? Was there a record that made you wanna strap on a guitar and make your living at it?
Yeah, well the “living” part is a good question, but definitely just to play. I was brought up with 70’s radio. My folks spun everything from Zeppelin to Doobie Brothers. I was probably 12 when I got turned on to Maiden and Priest, also Dead Kennedys. A lot of that punk and metal got me real excited about music. I tried to take guitar lessons but I was horrible at it, so I quit. It wasn’t until I was probably 15… I had some buddies in a punk band and they blew my mind. I’d never been that personally close to music. Seeing them play is what made me decide that I had to play as well.
How much do vinyl sales help a touring artist/band?
Quite a bit. At least half of what we do is vinyl merch sales, if not more. Vinyl easily accounts for most of our merch sales.
Do you remember the first record you bought with your own money?
Elton John’s “A Single Man”. My mother had a lot of Elton John records so I spun those a lot. The Greatest Hits is probably the one that I spun the most. When I was able to go out and buy my own records, that was the brand new Elton John record, so that’s the one I wanted to get. My folks weren’t into Black Sabbath or anything like that. The heaviest we listened to is Led Zeppelin, I discovered Black Sabbath on my own.
Does this whole vinyl thing surprise you?
I think a lot of people are surprised at the resurgence and how powerful it is, but I’d be more surprised if it’s 8-tracks, right? With vinyl, there’s a lot of things about it that are very desirable, such as the larger artwork, the ritual, the sound. I think we start out by making sure (our albums) start out looking good on vinyl. Converting to cd or other formats works fine, so vinyl is more the consideration.
Indie versus major labels. Is there still a difference for an artist that, potentially, could sign a deal with a major label.
I think YOB is a more difficult listen that the majors would be into; we haven’t been courted by anyone like that. Even with the Pitchfork and Rolling Stone stuff, we’ve never been approached in that way and I don’t give it a lot of consideration. Obviously, the more money someone spends on you, the more they feel like they can tell you what to do with your art and your touring, and what to do to sell your record for them. With the majors, that’s maybe more of an issue than it is with the indies. With indies too, though. It just depends on the scenario. In either scenario, no one gets screwed by a deal they didn’t sign. It definitely feels like a very big leap that we’re not exactly ambitious towards. In this day and age, the pie in the sky is a much more unrealistic goal than it’s ever been. 40 years ago, if we’d been written up in Rolling Stone they way we just were, we could have been superstars. Today, it’s an interesting kind of surprise and a nod, but it’s not changing our reality much. We’re still doing what we’re doing on our own terms. We’re not being courted by major labels or anything like that, and we’re content with that. We’re grateful for it, but we’re also inherently skeptical of it.
In your opinion, what makes a great album. A classic?
There has to be a soul that lives in the album, from beginning to end. Great riffs, great players…that’s part of it, but that’s not IT. A great player doesn’t necessarily get to be on a great record, and great riffs don’t necessarily make great songs. There’s something in there, that personal magical moment in time…that is bigger than the mathematics of it.
Have you ever taken a chance on a record you knew nothing about?
I used to all the time, way before the internet age! Where you went in a record store and it was either something they were spinning in the store, or it was something your read about in a magazine but had no opportunity to hear it. Or, you’re looking at the artwork and you’re going “well this looks really cool, I’m gonna check it out!”. I took a risk on the first Sabbat record, History Of A Time To Come. I liked the label (Noise Records) and knew they put out things that I liked, so I took a chance on it.
Is rock n’ roll dead?
No. Absolutely not. Ab-solutely not. No matter how jaded this time gets, there will always be room for a truly great rock n’ roll band. They do not have to reinvent the wheel in any way, except bring the vitality and dangerousness of life in music and it will capture people’s imaginations. Every time.
Check out YOB on their latest tour dates. Plenty of vinyl is available at the merch table including “Clearing The Path To Ascend” which was voted as one of Rollling Stone magazine’s 20 best heavy metal albums of 2014. Mike and the guys will be happy to autograph your records for you and take photos. Support the arts. Hard.