For years, I’ve been haunted by the “Proust Questionnaire” — a series of questions that was developed by French author Marcel Proust to discern personalities more or less as a parlor game. The idea is that by comparing different answers, one can discover somebody’s attitudes not just by their answers themselves, but even how they approach the answers. Do they blow it off? Go deep? Somewhere between? What does that say about the person answering?
My hope is that over time The Obelisk Questionnaire will be able to provide fodder for such understanding. The questions will be the same — the first of them left as purposefully vague as possible — and have been dealt out to a fairly wide swath of people of various levels of prominence whose work I deeply respect. Since I want to build a backlog as quickly as possible, we’ll have a new one each day this week, and I’m pleased to be able to debut the feature with Mike Scheidt of YOB this afternoon.
Since YOB made their full-length debut in 2002, they’ve gone on to stand among America’s most pivotal acts in the heavy underground. They’ve cast a wide net of influence and even up to 2011’s Atma (review here) have crafted essential, cosmic and wide-ranging songs with a deep undercurrent of spirituality. YOB are set to begin recording a new album Jan. 17, 2014, and this year, Scheidt also debuted the crust-infused side-project Vhöl, and contributed vocals to Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (review here), helping to make that one of 2013’s heaviest and most emotionally resonant offerings.
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Scheidt
How did you come to do what you do?
I used to go and watch what was to become the band Dirtclodfight practice when I was 15. I was a massive music fan, but up until then I’d never known anyone who was actually in a band. After watching them jam once, I knew I had to do it too. I got my first electric guitar shortly afterward.
Describe your first musical memory.
My first musical memories are from when I was very little. My mom listened to the radio everyday, at home, in the car, everywhere we went. In the early ’70s, the radio kicked ass. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren,Three Dog Night, Elton John… that was “pop” music.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
I have too many to name one. It would be impossible. If I had to say one, it would be the first one that I cannot remember which introduced me to music in the first place.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
The belief that people are inherently good. That I am inherently good. That belief is validated, and tested, daily.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
If we are lucky, artistic progression leads us more deeply into our Self.
How do you define success?
Anything that allows one to truly love.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
I do not regret anything I have seen. Some things have been much harder than other things, but there is no turning back, no escape. To say that sounds haunting, but actually I find it comforting.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
There is quite a bit, musically and otherwise, that I would like to have the opportunity to create. Creation can be a bit of a violent affair. Struggling, fighting against all odds to make something happen. Willing it to be. I would love to be able to further foster the space within where creation is not encumbered with my shaky need to find meaning and identity in it.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the time where each of my children find their calling.Eugene, Lumbar, Mike Scheidt, Oregon, Vhol, Yob