NKU students bring emo back in the Bluegrass.

By J. Atley Smedley | Photography Connor Ray | Published Feb. 18, 2019
Lost Henry

Let’s hit “REWIND” for a second.

The sound: sustained guitar chords, nasally vocals, an occasional scream ripping through everything.

The look: dyed-black hair, heavy eyeliner and/or thick-framed glasses, thrift-store wardrobe.

The scene: It’s emo, folks.   

Throughout the oughts, it was a common for emo-fashioned people to jam to bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Good Charlotte on their car radios. But recent years have seen the sound, look and scene slip out of the mainstream—today, a daily emo fix requires a satellite radio subscription or stack of well-loved CDs.

But with a unique brand of emotional pop punk, Lost Henry—comprised of Northern Kentucky University students Landis Helwig (vocals), Cale Wheeler (rhythm guitar), Ben Eglian (lead guitar/backing vocals), Barry Rich (drums) and Jackson Moss (bass)—is looking to bring emo back with their debut, self-titled EP.

We sat down with Lost Henry to talk about the new EP, student experiences and what it’s like being punk in the Bluegrass State.


NKU Magazine: How did Lost Henry find itself?

Landis Helwig: NKU’s theater department hosts this event called Cabaret where you can perform what you want. I went up and performed a song by Linkin Park, and Cale came to me to talk about playing music together. I found Barry through a lifting buddy who also brought in Jackson. We all just came together to play music. Then we played a Slipknot song at a Halloween Cabaret. We painted up—it was a great time. We kept practicing and writing, and we put out a demo recorded in Griffin Hall. Our sound was too hollow, so we added Ben.

NKU: Tell us about the experience of recording your album.

LH: Moonlight Studios is the best studio in the area. [Owner] Eric Tuffendsam is a great guy and so helpful.

Barry Rich: He taught us a lot about making music and structuring sounds.

Ben Eglian: Even though some of us were in bands previously, none of us really knew about being in the studio—what it took to get that good sound, that perfect rhythm. He would let us know honestly if he didn’t like something or thought we could do better. He really has an ear for the style of music we typically lean towards.

NKU: How do you feel knowing your EP is out and people are listening to it?

Jackson Moss: Our fans have heard a few of these songs, but not recorded and mastered in this way. It’s exciting for people to hear all the new songs and what they think about it.

BR: We have an actual EP online. It’s a milestone. Many bands don’t come close to releasing an album, and it’s something we are going to be proud of and remember for the rest of our lives.

NKU: Some people say emo and pop punk are dead. Why are you pulled to make this style of music?

JM: We play because it’s what we like. We’ve grown up to it,and it’s shaped who we are. We didn’t come together and decide, “We are going to be a pop punk band.” We just started to find our identity and what our sound was going to be.

LH: Everything you hear me say on a song is going to be legit. I write to cope. I write to feel. It’s emotional music. We are being true to the feeling of the song.

NKU: What’s it like being a punk band in Kentucky, a state known for being a little bit country?

JM: The northern Kentucky pop punk scene is so distinct because it is so different. There is a scene for everything here.

BE: I agree, the Midwest is a breeding ground for new art. There is so much opportunity to rise up in the Midwest, and SOTA is big on creating art and music.

JM: Even though not all of us are a part of SOTA, they are so supportive of us.

LH: [Theatre program head] Michael Hatton has always been so receptive and willing to help us out. Everyone who’s a part of SOTA is so kind. NKU is a free performance venue, too, which is very important—we played three shows on campus and even a show in Landrum.  

NKU: How do you balance work, classwork and Lost Henry?

BE: That’s definitely the biggest challenge we’ve had so far as a band. Getting together to meet and discuss our live shows is so much of a commitment. It’s tough, but it’s also a strength that we have.

Cale Wheeler: SOTA also pushes us. We are always performing, always getting out of our comfort zone, and the energy we get through our teachers translates to our shows. We have fun performing, and we constantly improve.

JM: That’s part of the reason people like coming out. Seeing fans sing songs we wrote is extremely rewarding.

NKU: So what drives you to keep at it, despite the challenges?

CW: We don’t care about the money or anything like that. We care about crafting art, and we want our legacy to be positive while filling rooms with love and support for NKU.

JM: At the end of the day, I just want to help people with things they are going through, like music has for me.

LH: I’m in it to win it. I’ve wanted to be in a band since I knew what a band was. My idea of a legacy is making it. I want to bring emo back all the way.

BE: If I can look back in 10-20 years and say I’m proud of what I did for that song, that’s all I can ever hope for.

NKU: Will we ever find Henry?

LH: I hope not. It’s like a pop punk scavenger hunt. Maybe Henry needs to find us.

BR: It depends on Landis. If he keeps losing stuff, we will never find him.