Music News

Kevin Boyer on the distinction between Tyvek the substance and Tyvek the sound

Tyvek is an all-purpose synthetic substance and a registered trademark of the DuPont Company. You've probably handled it in the form of a priority-mail envelope, or as that sticky bar bracelet that identifies you as being over the age of 21 when you go to a show.

But Tyvek's most significant contribution was either too obvious or too depressing for George Orwell or Aldous Huxley to predict: As "house wrap," it winds around the outside of the cookie-cutter condominiums that continue to materialize even as they're scarcely able to maintain the value of the land they're built on.

Kevin Boyer found that imagery fitting enough for his lo-fi garage-rock act; it's a subtle way for him and his bandmates to touch on the role of punk-rock activists. They're musicians inspired by individual experience and affected by their surroundings, which just so happens to be the crumbling industrial core of Detroit, Michigan. We caught up with Boyer on his way to band practice to discuss Tyvek the substance and Tyvek the sound.

Westword: The brand Tyvek works nicely as the socio-political jumping point for your band. What made Tyvek the right encapsulation of your aesthetic?

Kevin Boyer: I just got so used to seeing it. Especially a few years ago, when they were building all these crappy new houses in Detroit, you'd just see the Tyvek going up everywhere. It was blocks and blocks where you'd see nothing but Tyvek. It was kind of creepy. We were like, 'This stuff is everywhere. We should just call the band this.' Plus it was free advertising for us: We didn't have to put up fliers, because our name was already everywhere.

I think Tyvek's art-punk and underground feel has a lot of people associating you with bands like the Swell Maps and Volcano Suns. Was there a band that influenced you to the point that you decided that this was what you had to be doing?

All of those early punk bands that wanted to do their own thing, put out their own records and just do things on their own terms. Bands like the Urinals -- bands on labels that would suddenly pop out of a certain scene and start putting out records. I think that's really cool. I really like early hardcore, how those bands had no prior experience, no time or money to make music in the proper sense but made music that sounded totally crazy anyway.

That sounds a lot like what you're doing, but you're not just cutting these tracks and moving on. Isn't the songwriting and recording still a very involved process for you?

Definitely. I mean, there's some records where we're just letting the tape run, but we practice a lot. We try to make the songs tight and compact, but sometimes there's that element where whatever comes off the cuff has more value than you'll find in something that's rehearsed. We don't make rules for ourselves; we just put out music.

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Jonathan Easley
Contact: Jonathan Easley