Interview with Zach From Mythos Pedals - Take It Up Podcast ep.1

Interview with Zach From Mythos Pedals - Take It Up Podcast ep.1

In this episode of the Take It Up Podcast, we interview Zach from Mythos Pedals. Mythos has quickly become one of our most popular pedal brands at Octave Music. Click the link above to listen or read the transcript of our interview below.

Our interview with Zach from Mythos: 

Jeff: on this episode of Take It Up we interview Zach from Mythos Pedals. Mythos is a pedal brand located in Nashville Tennessee that is known for making awesome drive pedals and has quickly become one of the most popular pedal brands that we have at Octave Music, Zach welcome to the Take It Up podcast.
Zach: How's it going? Happy to be here it's going great.
Jeff: So one of the things we like to do on here is find out how you got started in music so how did how did you get started?
Zach:  just in music? in general?
Jeff: Yeah
Zach: yeah, well you know I'd always loved music growing up and no one in my family played any instruments like no parent or you know anyone like that did my sister started playing piano when when she was a kid and then we both got into band, but when I was 14 I really wanted a guitar so my dad drove me to the neighboring town because I was in a really small town with no music stores uh-huh so we went to the neighboring town and I got my first guitar and was off to the races.
Jeff: yeah so so what band instrument did you play?
Zach: I played trombone, yeah I played I played trombone from middle school all the way through high school and I was gonna join in college but I don't I was pretty lazy by that point
Jeff: oh yeah you were into guitar at that point all right?
Zach: yeah yeah I was on the more treble clef instruments yeah
Jeff: so so what was your first guitar?
Zach: my first guitar was a Peavy Raptor which is like a strat copy yeah and I it's a
funny story I've told it a few times, but when my dad took me to this place he my dad sold insurance and so he did their insurance for this music shop and he'd known him for years and years, and they were like hey you know Steve we have like an old guitar in the back if you'd want to look at that my dad was like yeah sure get it out and they handed it to me and it was it was probably like a 69 or 70 like white Fender Strat it looked just like Jimmy's you know big headstock and I knew it cost a lot more money and it weighed a lot and I like told my dad like no it's too heavy don't worry about it and so he didn't buy it for me when he like was offering he's like let's get this this is way cooler but dumb kid but yeah that's that
was my first guitar was the Peavy and little Peavy like backstage ampulla amplifier 
Jeff: nice, right did you get into pedals right away or?
Zach: no, I mean like this was 1999 so you know the only pedals that were out were of course like you know boss and Ibanez and you know Digitek and stuff like that.
Jeff: right
Zach: DOD or whatever.
Jeff: yeah yeah yeah
Zach: so there wasn't like you know the pedal craze hadn't really hit yet so like my first pedal was a wah I think and then and then I got an Ibanez smash box part of the Tone Loc series
Jeff: I remember those
Zach: yeah it was it was genuinely horrible but but those are my my first two pedals and I rock those for a long time until the switch on that that I guess that'll finally died.
Jeff: It finally wore out.
Zach: yeah, what a I mean like that this have you
ever seen the switch on those things?
Jeff: yeah
Zach: yeah it's like it's microscopic
Jeff: right right, so you actually you worked at a vintage guitar shop how did you, you know, how did you start there?
Zach: yeah I worked at Carter Vintage Guitars here in the in Nashville, and I had moved to town, and was working for my dad he in addition doing insurance the family business was selling Christmas lights
Jeff: Oh? okay
Zach: yeah so you know we sell lights you know like light strings and then like dragon at Christmas trees like everything you need for like commercial or you know residential and so I was doing that just working at home but I was like really bored and so I would go to Carter all the time and just hang out so that everyone knew who I was and I am Kristi I was like hey you know are you guys hiring? would you like any part-time help? because I I do website stuff andyou know your websites a little tired.
Jeff: right
Zach: and she was like I don't know and as I was standing there someone came up and asked her a guitar pedal question and I took them aside and like showed him everything and like sold a pedal like right in front of her and I looked at it I was like you have my number.
Jeff: how about now?
Zach: yeah so that that's how it started and I worked there I think from 2000 like August or April April of 2015 till December of 2017 yeah
Jeff: and had you started building pedals by that point, er?
Zach: oh yeah so that was, I mean the first pedal I ever built under the Mythos moniker was in 2010 but you know that was just for like for fun and I think even when I started working there I'd already like consigned a few like Mjolnir's and stuff and the old big boxes but it was definitely not, you know anywhere close to being a full-time or even like a part-time thing it's something I did like, a couple times a month you know not not a huge focus yeah
Jeff: what got you into to actually starting to do that?
Zach: well, I you know I like the pedals were selling slowly at Carter and like you know I just kind of got the itch and you know I think probably before this probably in 20 2014 maybe 2013 I can't remember I made Joey Landreth a Mjolnir and he started using it and he got on that pedal show, and then I gave Rob Chapman one and he said, on like a video that people should watch the brand and then my wife was like you gotta like actually do this cuz you're good at it and so in like 2015 I heard 20 like late 2015 early 2016 I started taking it way more seriously.
Jeff: right yeah, I remember meeting you up in Minnesota when we had that uh yeah that Chapman event, and I I think you know, even then I'm like you know, I definitely want to bring your brand into our store yeah and so you know and it's been great ever since then.
Zach: so much has changed since then
Jeff: yeah yeah yeah it has, so so what what made you think that you know, that you could take the brand and make it into sustainable business?
Zach: well you know it at first it was it was purely a hobby even when I started taking it more seriously what I did is I went to the bank, like my wife and I like we sat down and I was like so this is what I'm gonna do I want to go to the bank I'm gonna open another account I'm gonna put a thousand dollars in it, and if I spend all that money and I never make any back then it's done, but if I can sustain the business off that, then like we're just gonna keep on going until that money runs out alright
Jeff: shoestring it from there?
Zach: right, but like it is kept you know being consistent and I kept being able to like buy more parts and and like keep reinvesting myself back into the business from that thousand dollars and so I mean it really came down to the quantity of pedals I was selling a month, as well as being able to financially support myself and eventually my family,  you know I had like a number in mind if I can sell this many a month and I can quit my job if I sell this many a month and you know Morgan quit her job you know it's like this is what we need to survive, and eventually we started hitting that and so I said let's do it.
Jeff: awesome, is she still helping you do the assembly work on those?
Zach: as much as she can, yeah I mean we we just bought a house out we're actually further away from Nashville now we're out in Hendersonville, but it all feels very you know disliked suburbs of Nashville but yeah we have a almost a one and a half year old and so he is very much a full-time job but lately,.
Jeff: I understand that
Zach: yeah of course so like but late at night she'll come out and sometimes she'll help me populate boards and we'll like she'll stamp boxes and like help me pack and light run things to the post office and all that stuff is like, just invaluable like I couldn't you know just going to the post office is so taxing sometimes.
Jeff: oh I understand, when we have stuff to ship out sometimes my wife helps and it's just it's awesome to have them on your team.
Zach: oh yeah absolutely
Jeff: so how much do you think or how much do you see that social media has played a role in the popularity of Mythos?
Zach: oh it's it's the reason why I'm sitting here talking to you is it means it's the reason behind everything I mean for me when I started I don't think Instagram existed you know I had a Facebook and I would sell stuff on eBay and then when I started giving it more of a try I started doing a little bit of Instagram thing and and trying to connect with YouTubers and that has been really my main focus and it has been such a integral part of building a brand in my philosophy I think is a little different than then some other brands so far I was like how I present myself because I kind of operate Mythos at least my Instagram is like my personal account and then every other post I try to sell something which which I think is you know I think that's really helped me but I being active on social media every day, is it can be make or break for a brand or business.
Jeff: yeah, I mean we've certainly enjoyed some of your live feeds on an Instagram, it's just you know it's fun and you get to see a little behind-the scenes of what's going on with mythos and and you know what your thought process is so I'm a lot of this stuff
Zach: yeah, I I always said to myself I want to be completely honest and not sugarcoat anything but but just you know be available for people to talk to you about things and you know I I try not to do that you know if people ask me like do you like this? like I don't like strats and I get a lot of flack for it but people ask me opinion about strats and I'm like, I don't like them.
Jeff: well, you know we all have our things right?
Zach: yeah you can say I'm wrong but that's okay.
Jeff: yeah I I think recently I just watched you with a youtube video with Rhett Shull you know it's interesting too you know again it's kind of a behind-the-scenes of you know what your thought process goes into building the pedals and everything from you know quality and actual you know build like you know kind of like your strategy behind it.
Zach: yeah yeah he and he he came in, and you know he wanted to shoot in the garage where I build everything and it's I mean it's it's just a garage you know it's nothing nice to look at yet.
Jeff: I think there's a few famous computer companies that start off
Zach: that's very true, but he I was like should I go get my like lighting and like make this look nice he's like no it's perfect, but yeah I think in for me and as I mean all brands do this in some form or another but being able to make those sort of connections with guys like Rhett and like RJ and like Rob and you know Danish Pete Fred Anderson's all these people like has you know if you make one friendship and you know they use something and show it on a video then that can just open you up to so many different people in it it's it's so crucial I think for people to do that at least you know just be nice and started a friendship and never have it be all about the business just just try to make friends.
Jeff: so speaking of music what are you listening to these.
Zach: well you know I listen I'm listening to the new Brothers Landreth record, 87 which just came out I've had it for a while but I'm still listening to it, and you don't really it's kind of weird like the majority of my time when I'm building which is you know most some I'm alone I'm watching a lot of YouTube and you know and I watch things on Netflix and what not but I don't listen to a whole lot of music because most the time spent in the car I'm either like talking you know to friends or family on the phone while I Drive you know to get mail or whatever or I'm just in silence I don't know like on I I do have a Spotify and I think let's see Sister Sparrow which is a cool band I don't know if you've heard of them?
Jeff: I have not.
Zach: Sister Sparrow there a female-fronted band and they do some like cool bluesy and some little some poppier stuff but them, Local Natives, they are a really cool you know kind of poppy rock band a lot of like really fun hooks and melodies it's stuff like that I don't know III listen to a very wide swath of music but I don't know I don't listen to as much as I should
Jeff: yeah do you think any of the the new the newer music is affecting like how your trying to make your pedals sound?
Zach: not really, I mean you know I think the thing that most people want these days in regards to like doing modern, like performance and stuff is like feature sets whereas you know like back in the day you got a delay it had three knobs on it, but now if you say I'm gonna make a delay and everyone's like well it needs to have presets and it needs to be MIDI compatible and have all this stuff and you know like those kind of those are the things that you see people wanting because you know everything these days is is a little bit more regimented so far as like all the tempos have to be perfect everything has to be locked in.
Jeff: right pre-programmed
Zach: - yeah you know that kind to me I'm a little - punk rock is to like care about that because when I'm thinking about new sounds it's usually not inspired by new music, but in a lot of times it's not inspired by old music it's just like I have a sound in my head or an idea that I want to actualize or something like that.
Jeff: yeah and just trying to capture that. so obviously the the new delay pedal is is coming here pretty soon and you know how much of that is is trying to balance what you were talking about as far as heaven you know want you to decide that oh hey we have enough options?
Zach: right well that that was something that I had to kind of find a balance from the beginning because one thing I do on Instagram is I do whenever I'm trying to design something I'll do a poll but yes you know every every one that has liked my channel for one reason or another another is some sort of fan or at least hopefully they're a guitar player and they have valuable input and the suggestions went from the most mild and boring to the most extreme and so from the very beginning as I tried to figure out like what can I offer that you know is gonna meet the basic needs of a good delay pedal like have a good sound have a good feature set and, you know how far I don't want to I want to take the the, modernist of it you know so it had to have a tap, and I wanted a tap from the beginning even if it was gonna be just like three knobs I wanted it to have a tap but, I didn't ever in the beginning think I want to have subdivisions, but it was something easy for my designer who I hired to do Neil from doctor scientist, who's like a wizard of all things, like digitally programmed so like adding the subdivision thing was very important to me and that really you know I didn't want to really want to take it any further than that because I feel like all the things I make are made for like guitar players who are ready to play guitar and not people looking to have like a spaceship at their feet
Jeff: right, well and there's certainly lots of other companies that you know do all those other kinds of things and you know for for Mythos you know primarily you've been about Drive pedals so to make that next step into other kinds of pedals I'm sure is a big undertaking?
Zach: oh yeah, and and the this the manufacturer of this pedal is gonna be it means it's completely different than anything I've ever done and, honestly I think I priced it too low but I've already said how much I was gonna try to sell it forward so I feel like like this won't make that much money but but yeah cuz it's a completely different construction its surface mount it's got microcontrollers and a big digital brain and like the company that's helping do my circuit boards because I can't hand solder it there's just just no way I would go and say they're doing some programming and then after each pedal is fully assembled I have to completely program the microcontroller that tells like the tap tempo how to work and like tells it to when you unplug it to save what the last like tempo was and so all these things have to be done and I never factored that in when I was like price like oh this is gonna take like a long time to make one happen work there's a lot of things that can mess up.
Jeff: yeah, do you think the the pedal market is at some point becoming too oversaturated with different brands or do you think there's always room for people to develop within there?
Zach: you know I think there's there's always room for people to like come into the market and I get asked this a lot, you know by by small guys who are just starting out like how do I do that and you know I think, it's I think the hardest thing about entering this market is establishing an identity and having an ethos about about what you're trying to do but, it's funny like as many people has come in every now and again you'll see like some bigger guys kind of you know taking a step back or stopping what they're doing, and you know the industry determines, what is gonna succeed or fail and in a way, you know but I I think there's still room for people to like come in and and play this game but you know it's hard it's really hard.
Jeff: yeah it seems like it'd be a very hard business to get into but it also seems like there's quite a large community of builders that support each other?
Zach: yeah yeah, I think that's one thing that's kind of cool about this scene is that like we don't really have a lot of secrets, and like there's you know sure there's rivalries between some guys and animosity between some guys I don't feel like I have that but you know if I have a problem and I can't figure it out and I think, I bet Josh Scott from GHS would know how to fix this I'll just call him and he's like yeah let me email you a schematic you know.
Jeff: yeah it does seem that like there's a lot more collaborations these days between different manufacturers.
Zach: I mean how many times can you do the same thing over and over and over and that's where I think you see more things succeeding is like like Keeley used to be all about the single like you know 3 knob overdrive or standalone unit and now you know they make all these cool like two-in-one pedals and all this you know amazing stuff and like that's I think that's really smart and I think it's really you know a way to keep a brand in the forefront of people's minds you know instead of saying oh here's another overdrive you know saying oh no here's an overdrive with a reverb and an echo all in one box like that cool you know and those kind of things I think are really cool for sure
Jeff: I think it's at some point it's about you know ultimately it's about to meet music that the musicians making and if you can help them have some sort of tool that helps them create
Zach: right I mean it just makes so yeah and and you know it's it there's a fine line you have to walk between like what you like you know cuz we're all a little predisposed or biased to make things that we want to play and I definitely fall into that I'll never make a compressor because I genuinely don't like compressor pedals Jeff: oh yeah
Zach: well I don't I don't have time for a compressor but people ask me all the time like yeah will you make me a compressor and I'm like you know if I wouldn't play it I'm not gonna try and sell it to you someone else will but like if I can't like completely back something I'm doing and just make something to make something that totally goes against the grain for me alright
Jeff: one more question, what is coming up for Mythos say you're excited about and can share?
Zach: well I'm doing a lot of collaborations with some youtubers so I'm working on a pedal with RJ I can't really say anything other than I'm working on it.
Jeff: sure understand
Zach: and I'm doing the same with the Rhett Shull and again I can't really say anything about it yeah yeah but apart from that I am working on again like trying to break out of the the overdrive, fuzz realm I want to do a modulation or some sort vibrato or vibe sort of thing and so that's, I have no shortage of schematics in my computer that I've drawn and trust me I've been many where I'll order a circuit board thinking this is gonna be great and doesn't work but I'm gonna try to get into the modulation realm but at the same time I have so many overdrive ideas and different things and new takes on it on circuits that we know and love that I think stand apart and are way more interesting to play so I'm excited to like share some of those things but the the biggest thing that I'm gonna start working on is more of just content creation and and doing YouTube and and vlogging and going places and like showcasing the life of a I mean I'm not the smallest pedal builder in the world but I'm definitely not the big one of the big big guys yet so like documenting that kind of experience.
Jeff: yeah that's awesome, we certainly watch our fair share of YouTubers and and people doing that and you know just sharing their their story really yeah and it's cool to see, and you know we live in an awesome time that we can do that.
Zach: yeah and I think that you know, there's only so many, here's a overdrive demo video, like video videos that can be made without like starting just to get really not boring but it all sounds the same you know right right I think and this is something that Rhett Shull, he's really inspired me in a lot of ways, he says yeah you know it's all about the story, so you know demo of contents great but like people aren't gonna remember you because you played that one cool blues lick in a you know they're gonna remember like hey remember when Mythos went to that place and did that thing.
Jeff: like yeah right exactly and I can personally admit I've watched
way too many hours of Rhett Shull
Zach: oh yeah I've started them from the beginning and try to watch through now so it's a lot of content it's a lot of content but it's
Jeff: it's all pretty good yeah, yeah well Zach thanks for being on the podcast and as always we wish you you know the best we're excited about your brand we have been and it's been you know it's been one of our most popular brands in our stores so we're really excited and thanks for being here.
Zach: thanks for having me and I love that that we have pedals up there in your shop and that people you know coming to learn or just come in to try some new gear can check them out all
Jeff: right thanks
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