Here's a quick example of how weird the last few years have been for Mike Scheidt: The Yob frontman says he's not allowed, legally, to even say the name of his former band, Middian, which dissolved under the pressure of one of the silliest, most vindictive, and least-productive music-industry lawsuits of recent memory.
Scheidt and his Middian bandmates, Will Lindsay and Scott Headrick, were sued in federal court over the use of their name by Midian, an obscure, maybe even inactive Milwaukee band that has never recorded an album or played outside of Wisconsin. According to news reports, the Milwaukee Midian demanded that Scheidt's band change its name, destroy all copies of its album Age Eternal, and pay them tens of thousands of dollars. Midian fought the suit for a few months, changing its official name to Age Eternal, but ultimately crumbled under the stress, calling it quits last year.
One good thing happened as a result, though—Scheidt reformed Yob, the sorely missed doom metal power trio he'd led before forming Middian.
"I'd had it in the back of my mind," Scheidt says. "I had some riffs that weren't gelling with Age Eternal, and I'd think, ‘That would be a great Yob song.' I thought it'd be fun to do a record, a studio-only album, maybe just do it myself. As the laswsuit was ending, [former Yob drummer] Travis Foster got in touch with me and said it would be fun to do a reunion show. I said it would be fun to do an album. We both talked, decided to work with a smaller, hip label, but Age Eternal would still be my first priority. then the stress of the lawsuit broke up Age Eternal, and all of a sudden Yob's my priority again."
Scheidt and foster recruited Aaron Reiseberg to replace Isamu Sato on bass and recorded The Great Cessation, released this summer on Profound Lore. It's a powerful slab of doom, dreary, punishing, and majestic in turns, wedding the slow blues stomp of classic doom like Black Sabbath and Cathedral with the progressive, atmospheric textures of Neurosis. Scheidt's voice has never sounded better, ranging from a mournful wail to a gurgling bellow. It's the band's best album, and people have noticed.
"I get the feeling we've grown in our absence," Scheidt says. "I literally hadn't looked at the Yob MySpace page in four years. When I logged in again, there were pages and pages and pages of friend requests and comment approvals and messages; tons of people had been there, way more than ever were when we were active. Not like there are for some big bands, but for some little doom band, the response was overwhelmingly good."
Yob is performing at Planet Caravan, a two-day festival of doom and stoner rock in Asheville Sept. 18 and 19. For more info, visit Planet Caravan.