About halfway through 2016 our rehearsals had shifted from keeping old material polished for gigs to focusing on what was to be the next album. Mike had skeletons of a some of the songs that he had been working on at home and we began fleshing those out together. Due to some very unfortunate circumstances we had to take a 6 month period off from rehearsing and later rebuilt that momentum. The recording of the album felt like the most fun we had had together in the studio environment while at the same time cathartic. We were able to give ourselves a little extra time than usual which made it easier to enjoy. Its always one of my favorite places to be but there is historically a fair amount of pressure to get things done with some quickness.
The album was produced by Billy Barnett. What did he bring to the sound of Our Raw Heart?
Working with Billy is absolutely fascinating in multiple facets. He is a seasoned wizard of his studio (gung-ho studios) which he has outfitted with some insanely cool equipment which gave it a certain sound. One very interesting aspect is he comes from a completely different perspective but at the same time knows the sound of the band very well. He engineered and mixed Clearing the Path to Ascend along with some additional mixing on a few earlier records. Billy had the cool idea at the end of “our raw heart” to pick up and drop deluxe reverb while Mike was doing some overdubs with a telecaster. This is what made the exploding sounding reverb blasts during the ending jam section on that song. He also had a few ideas of where to shorten a part by one or two times which we all felt made sense.
What inspired the title of the album?
We have tried to stay away from explaining the meaning of it so that the listener has more of a chance to give it their own. It was certainly inspired by the fact that many people are suffering, filled with hope, rage, love, and confusion… That while it may express itself in different ways to different individuals, the tenderness of the experience, the emotion expressed, enlightened to or ran from, is something that we all have in common.
You had some documented health problems last year. What happened and hopefully all is on the mend with that?
While Mike was at to the grocery store he suffered from an excruciating attack of acute diverticulitis. He had to be rushed to the hospital and undergo emergency surgery to save his life. The surgery had some complications and it wound up taking 3 times longer than it was scheduled to but in end the surgery was a mega success. It was totally shocking when he went from canceling band practice that day due to some discomfort in his abdomen to having to be cut open and operated on 12 hours or so later… Unfortunately while recovering in the hospital Mike also was struck with MRSA and shingles to top things off. It was long a twisted road of recovery to say the least. The dude is a fucking warrior! He has had to make a few lifestyle changes and is currently doing very well.
Did that experience inspire the songs on the album?
With the writing of this album it felt like there was a before and after that experience. We didnt practice for 6 months while he was healing and during that time Mike was playing guitar as much as he could as the pain permitted. We all were working a lot on our own during this period even though there was no certainty if the music would see the light of day. When we started rehearsing again in mid July Mike showed up with a pretty huge quantity of new ideas and the flood gates were opened. We worked constantly on the material and entered the studio about 5 months later. To answer that simply, yes the experience soaked heavily into these new songs, no doubt.
Does the material on the new album have a similar vibe to your last album Clearing The Path To Ascend?
The vibe of Our Raw Heart feels very different from CTPTA. The sound on this one has a brevity and openness that feels
How do you feel that the Yob sound has evolved since your debut album Elaborations Of Carbon in 2002?
Oh man, a lot. I hear a wider breadth to the emotion in the songs wether its beauty, terror, triumph, anguish, love, treachery or disorientation… The highs have gone higher and the lows have gone deeper. There is always the search for a unique vibe within each album and a deliberate attempt to avoid doing the same thing we have done before.
What inspires you to make such creative and forward thinking music?
In order for us to stay engaged in creating music it has to advance and transform in ways while still remaining stoking to us. This is something we do because we fully love to and in order for us to like our new music it has to be different to us. Mike has a sense of vocal style + capabilities + lyrics that lend themselves to a vast range of emotion.
This is your first album to come out on your new label Relapse Records. How did the signing come about and how is life on Relapse?
A lot of the folks at Relapse are old friends of our’s and we have had a strong connection with them. We had talked about doing something in the past but it didn’t quite workout until now. We are really happy with how its been going!
Yob embark on an extensive North American tour with Bell Witch when the album is released. Are you looking forward to hitting the road again? Will you be making it over to Europe again before the end of the year? I caught you in Birmingham, UK when you last toured with Black Cobra and it was such an awesome show so I certainly hope so!
Yes for sure! We will be back overseas in early October.
Of all your material, Marrow is possibly your most well known song and when I saw you perform it live, it was an immense experience. Did you know the track was special as soon as you recorded it and what is it like playing such an epic song live?
Thats excellent to hear that, thank you. Marrow was the last song to come together during those sessions, we actually didn’t finish it until we were in the studio. We had done 3-4 live takes of it that felt pretty good but we weren’t quite hitting it just right. I remember we came back from a lunch break and when we ripped through it the next time it felt special. Once Mike laid down the vocals it took on a massiveness and feeling unlike anything we had done before. In fact we never thought we would actually perform the song live, we had to actually LEARN the song after we finished the record.