When The Santa Barbara Independent caught up with Tyvek frontman Kevin Boyer, he was strolling the streets of Reno, Nevada, about a week into a cross-country tour that will bring him and his band to California for the first time in more than three years. “We haven’t toured the last two records out west at all, which is crazy,” he said, sounding as surprised as anyone. Since forming Tyvek in 2004, Boyer and his rotating lineup of bandmates have acted the unassuming pillar to Detroit’s grittier musical side. Named after the synthetic material so often seen on the city’s building projects, Tyvek champions a mix of melody, structure, and raw energy. Their brand of noise punk is loud and catchy, and their albums are casual lo-fi affairs, though not necessarily by design. “I never want it to sound shitty,” Boyer told Denver’s Westword in 2010.
This Saturday, Tyvek makes its inaugural Santa Barbara appearance at the Biko Co-op Garage. They’ll be playing songs off their last two albums — 2010’s Nothing Fits and 2012’s On Triple Beams — as well as road testing a handful of new tunes. I chatted with Boyer about Tyvek’s latest incarnation, life in Motor City, and staying anonymous in the Internet age.
How are you? Where are you? We’re in Reno. We played a show last night and just finished breakfast, so we went over to the casino and played some nickel slots. [Laughs.] I couldn’t not do it.
Did anyone win anything? Our bass player Brett [Lyman] quit while he was ahead; he’s up about 20 bucks. I quit before I started to lose.
That’s not very rock ’n’ roll of you. Yeah. We’re pretty conservative when it comes to our gambling. I’m more of a backgammon player, myself. [Laughs.]
How did you end up naming the band Tyvek? It was one of those things where I just saw the name everywhere. I started thinking, “Hey, if they’re going to put that all over the place, it’s kind of like free advertising.” We wanted to turn it into our own thing rather than have our minds be taken over by branding and product.
Do you think it speaks to the band’s aesthetic? Yeah. The sound of it, the syllables kind of fit our music. You can’t get away from it if you try, and because of that, what we do kind of floats under the radar. We kind of try to focus on us and do just make music and not worry about getting our image out there. Because the name is so ubiquitous, we feel comfortable going about our daily business and maintaining our anonymity.
Who’s playing with you this time out? It’s myself, our drummer Beren [Elkine], who’s been playing drums with us for about two years now, our guitar player Heath [Heemsbergen], and our friend Brett is filling in on bass. Our bass player has a serious nine-to-five, so he can’t really do the long tours.
You’ve been switching people in and out since the start, right? Yeah. The rotating lineup is certainly not by design — it’s just kind of how things work. But everyone who’s involved definitely has a big effect on the whole. With the energy of the shows, and the records, too, it becomes its own new thing every time. I’m just stoked at how it’s been going. I feel like we’re really starting to hit the groove with the lineup we’ve got now.
Your Detroit roots run pretty deep. What’s your relationship with the city now that you’re on the road? You know, it’s funny. You don’t realize what the fishbowl looks like until you’re out of it. We don’t think about it, but then we go out on tour, and people want to share with us their touchstones and their impressions of Detroit music. I think it’s interesting how people think of Detroit as a garage-rock place. For me, that’s such a small slice of what goes on in Detroit, and it’s funny that it’s what gets the most national attention. To me, it’s a much more diverse landscape than that. Touring makes you realize, like, “Shit. I’m from Michigan.” You realize how different things are, but it also makes you feel a little more attached to it.
Do you guys still feel involved in the punk scene there? Oh yeah. The Detroit that we’re a part of is a pretty tight crew. It’s our friends’ bands and our friends’ spaces, and it’s a pretty strong and supportive scene, at least for punk music and noise music. Everyone’s in three bands. [Laughs.] But it’s a good community vibe, for sure. And for musicians it’s very no-bullshit. I feel like people have a lot of respect for each other and what everyone’s doing.
You’re also working on a record. Do you want to talk about the new songs? Sure. The last album we recorded as a three-piece, and this one we’re recording as a four-piece, so I feel like it’s getting a lot more … we’re not so worried about being tight because we know we jam together well. It’s going to be a little bit looser and a little bit heavier, just because we have two guitars in the mix. I think it’ll be loose like the last one, and similarly casual, but we’re certainly not going to be holding back. It’s going to be an all-out rager from start to finish. [Laughs.] I’m excited about it. It’s shaping up right now, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m pretty stoked.
Tyvek headlines the Biko Co-op Garage (6612 Sueno Rd.) on Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m. with openers Remambran and The Trashberries. For info, visit sbdiy.org.