Henry Kohen, more commonly known as Mylets, has spent the past month in Ireland with his somewhat surrogate family at Sargent House Europe and last night played a storming set at London’s Old Blue Last. When most guys around his age are preparing to hit college he’s about embark on an international tour with label mates TTNG and And So I Watch You From Afar. State caught up with Kohen to talk tour, pedals and his album, Retcon.
Tell us about how Mylets came to be and how you got involved with Sargent House?
Mylets came to be through a mental need to write and perform music in order to function as a person. I had been playing in a band for a few years and when the other members took the path towards a more realistic life, I chose to fully immerse myself in my music. I got involved with Sargent House first as a fan of the bands, then as a fan of the label and what it represented to artists and fans. Cathy [Pellow, Sargent House founder] and I corresponded for about a week over emails and phone calls, ultimately leading to me becoming a Sargent House artist and leaving college in Indiana to live in the Los Angeles office.
It’s an eventful time in your life to say the least; you’ve been moved out to LA and are about to embark on a worldwide tour, what have been the high points?
It’s very unreal when I look back at 2013. This may sound corny, but the whole thing really has been made up of high points. Even the stressful, uncomfortable, and draining events, people, and experiences have been amazing to me. I understand how uncommon these things that are happening to and around me are and I really just would be pretty rotten to not appreciate them all.
Retcon is pretty new to European listeners but maybe old news to you at this stage, when did you first begin work on that album?
All of the songs on that album are over a year old at this point, the oldest one being a little over two years old. They all have developed immensely as live songs so I don’t really mind revisiting them for this tour, but I definitely don’t relate quite as well to them as I used to.
We’ve gotten a taste of your newer material with ‘Ampersand’ on that ‘Glassroom’ sessions clip (below), what can we expect from your new material, how has it progressed from Retcon?
Musically, I’ve developed my writing technique and pinpointed it towards something that is my own. I wouldn’t say that these new songs are EXACTLY what I had in my mind when I wrote them, but they’re significantly closer than previous works. There is definitely a distinct change in tone on the new songs. I think my older songs tended to dwell in negativity and had unjustifiable feelings of helplessness; these new songs are more about taking action and improving yourself.
You mentioned an idea you had for Mylets; rather than disbanding it all together in the future that it’s something you’d like to pass on to someone else, can you elaborate on that?
It was an idea that came from reading comic books that started out as more of a joke, but is starting to sound really appealing. It essential makes Mylets into a title instead of a band/artist. It won’t happen in the foreseeable future, but I think passing the Mylets moniker onto a new artist would be a better move than to just abruptly end it.
In terms of life of the road, can you give us an insight into what it’s like going it solo on the road? Are there ever times where you’d prefer you had a band in tow?
You’d have to ask me again in three months! From what I’ve heard, there’s a very strong sense of family between bands on the road. The guys in both And So I Watch You From Afar and TTNG are all really nice people, so I imagine it will be an overall positive experience. I think being in a band would take tons of stress off of me, but it would also dramatically change the dynamic of Mylets.
You’re a Digitech endorsee, with a pretty immense pedal board, how long did it take you to get used to using that kind of set up in a live setting? Do you have any tips for those attempting the same?
I’ve been building this pedal board for about 4 years now and the set-up I’m using for this tour is by far the easiest and most sonically vast. Digitech have been great to work with and I think they really understand what I need for a live set-up. My advice to anyone wanting to build a pedal-board is to not go overboard with it. I use pedals to compensate for the fact that I don’t have a bass player, drummer, keyboardist, etc. Working with less is always more rewarding. Also, never practice guitar/bass with pedals engaged. Always have control over the pedals, not the other way around.
You’ve been spending time with the ASIWYFA crew, I think it came up in conversation that Rory Friers and yourself have really similar styles of playing – despite never really having jammed together before or met. What’s it been like getting to know one other and can we expect collaboration with ASIWYFA at some point?
I really did a double-take when Rory picked up the guitar and started noodling about. I think it comes from a lack of classical training combined with similar influences, but we share a lot of traits as guitarists. As far as collaborations, as I write this Rory is in the other room setting up a makeshift studio so I can lay some guitar takes over some stuff he’s doing. I really enjoy all of the musicians of ASIWYFA and think collaboration with all or most of them is pretty realistic.
You’re about to hit the road for a month with TTNG, and then it’s off to the States for a seven week tour with ASIWYFA and TTNG. After that, you’ve mentioned you might like to record in Ireland, what is it about the Irish music scene that you feel so drawn to?
I think I’ll be recording the current album I have written already back in Los Angeles after the tour, but between recording and touring in 2014, I plan on moving to Ireland for a month or two to work and write a new record. There’s something amazingly calming and friendly about Ireland and the people who live there. In America (especially Los Angeles), there’s a heavy sense of competitiveness that I felt free from in Ireland.