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BUMP Magazine -
THE RAW INSIDE ME
A Review of a Book about Yob
by: Dustin Jones
So, doom metal isn’t really my thing. Most of it is hitting one chord then waiting for 2000 fuzz and reverb pedals to gain feedback. I don’t see the allure of seeing it live. Fucking loud and boring. If I want to be in a trance-like state to this kind of music, I sure as hell don’t want to be surrounded by the smell of booze, bar, and BO. But there’s an exception to this “rule” of mine. YOB is that exception.
Seeing YOB live is a full-sensory treat. Their shows and lighting are never overdone, never disappointing. They play doom, but put such a beautiful edge to the genre that keeps listeners engaged. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing YOB a couple times here in Boise and talking with Mike Scheidt a handful of times while I was out on tour. He’s one of the nicest people you can meet, and the same goes for YOB bandmates Travis Foster and Aaron Rieseburg. They recently released an album entitled Our Raw Heart that I thought was a masterpiece when it came out. But living 450 miles away from their hometown of Eugene, Oregon, I wasn’t privy to the harrowing and life-threatening events that besieged the band in 2017.
Luckily for fans like me, Alyssa Herrman of Portland’s Foto Phortress captured the whole story and published a photo book entitled The Raw Within. It covers the band recording a new album, Mike going through treatment for nearly fatal diverticulitis, and beneﬁ t shows for Mike’s medical bills. The book starts right after the onset of Mike’s diagnosis and preparation for the ﬁrst beneﬁt show in his honor. Then it takes the reader through Mike’s treatment and recovery, all the while YOB is writing and recording their album Our Raw Heart with legendary producer Billy Barnett.
In the latter months of 2016, Alyssa and Mike met up at a show and Alyssa mentioned wanting to do some sort of photo project involving YOB. They both agreed to the concept of a photo-based project, but didn’t nail down a solid concept or medium. A few weeks pass, and it’s January 2017 when Alyssa puts together a proposal for a photojournalism-based project and gave it to Mike. He said he’d look it over and let her know. A couple days later, Mike was hospitalized with what he described as “the worst pain in my entire life.” Had Mike not gone into the hospital that night, doctors speculated that he would have died from sepsis. That’s not the kind of Septic Death I can get behind.
Mike’s treatment was extreme from the get-go. He had to have multiple meters of his intestines removed through surgery. Because of this he couldn’t even stand, much less play guitar or belt out his iconic screams. But Mike wasn’t about to take all this lying down. He had a custom, lightweight guitar made and shaped so he could comfortably play sitting down. This is when he began writing the album Our Raw Hearts.
This is about the time frame for where the book starts, just a couple weeks before a major beneﬁt show for Mike’s medical bills featuring acts like Red Fang, Norska, and Danava featuring Tool’s Danny Carey at Portland’s Revolution Hall. Chock full of behind-the-scenes and sound-check photos, this section alone would make a Teva’d and pony-tailed Tool fan shit their cargo shorts. It’ll appease other metalheads and music fans as well, but they won’t need adult diapers while going through these chapters. The day after the show, Mike was scheduled for surgery to remove much of his intestines.
After this, the book shifts in tone and focuses to Mike’s recovery after surgery. Alyssa could not have documented this more intimately or respectfully. A deﬁ nite change in the book’s feel, you can tell that there’s recovery happening with Mike, and seeing his surroundings brings a sense of reality that stimulates that empathetic part of your humanity. Most likely, we’ve all known someone recovering from a major physical trauma, or we’ve gone through one ourselves. It can be a maddening process. But throughout the chapter, music becomes more and more incorporated into Mike’s surroundings, showing his reassimilation into what he does best.
Surprisingly, just a few months after Mike’s surgery and during very strict recovery rules, YOB travels to play the Sin City’s annual celebration of metal, Psycho Las Vegas 2017. Mike was intently methodical and tactical with planning out his trip; getting speciﬁc about how long he could do things like stand, walk, sit, eat, and basically not fucking die.
Returning from Psycho Las Vegas, YOB prepares to head into Billy Barnett’s Gung-Ho Studio to begin tracking Our Raw Heart. This segment of the book is a gearhead’s dream. It details Mike’s setup, how he gets his sound, and pedalboard conﬁgurations. The book doesn’t mince emotions to glorify the studio life as something that’s glamorous and only rock stars do. It shows that these people fucking work their asses off. And a lot of that work goes from boring to stressful in a matter of seconds.
The book wraps up with YOB’s record release party at Portland’s Music Millennium and a fully-recovered Mike and YOB ready to once again reclaim their throne as doom metal masters. At this point, Alyssa had amassed a ridiculous amount of photos documenting the time. The idea ﬁnally clicked in her head to do a book with her longtime partner, Guy Nelson, annotating and helping to lay out this massive story that they had amassed for over 18 months.
The Raw Within is a work of passion for Alyssa. She wants the world to see YOB through the lens that she sees them. The publication is limited to only 500 copies and completely self-funded, self-published, and self-distributed by Alyssa and Guy. So far, the response has been amazing. “I spent the ﬁrst two days just crying,” Alyssa said about the fans’ overwhelmingly positive response to the book.
If you’re interested in getting this beautiful binding of 120 photo-quality pages, then you’ll need to get it quick. Alyssa and Guy stated that they’re not particularly interested in doing another run, so this pressing that is out now is a collector’s item; not just some mass-produced, whorrey look into the life of a musician. It’s something more special and meant to connect fans to the music in a way that they haven’t had a chance to before.