Feeling excited about their debut LP and upcoming Montreal date (tomorrow night!It's gonna be MADNESSSSS!) I had a lil' chat with my bud Kevin Boyer , Tyvek frontman and all around sweetheart.
Chloe: Hi Kevin how are you today?
Kevin : Today I feel sick, but a lot better than yesterday. I don't think it's swine flu, but all of the symptoms are present and it's starting to worry me. Couggh, haaakckckk, blaaaeegh. I'm just going to keep gargling.
In Paris , April 09.
Chloe: You guys recently went to Europe for the first time, how did that go?
Kevin : Europe was extremely fun. There were no major disasters. The beer was ten times better. I got drunk a lot more touring over there. It felt like a vacation, and I rarely felt hung over the next day (Europe has higher purity standards for beer and alcohol!). In general, people were hospitable, very friendly, we always got fed and had a place to stay. The hospitality seemed to be an almost required thing for them, like they had an obligation to take care of us. Which is fine, I'm not complaining.... you don't really feel that vibe in the states. Here no one cares if you've had dinner before you play. You're lucky to get a drink ticket in most American bars. And of course in some places we did meet people who were extremely kind and were just excited about the music and feeling that kind of universal kinship that comes from sharing the insanity of music.
Being in a different country almost every night was nuts.... not knowing how the audiences would react or if people would show up at all. One way Europe is so different is that you drive like 100 km down the road, and you're in a different nation and suddenly the way the people interact with you and how they take part in the concert are just completely different from the night before. It always varied, and people often times seemed at odds with their neighbors. History weighs down on people there, much more so than here, like, "oh you guys played in Slovenia last night? that must've sucked! not so good, right?" No, it was a blast actually, but whatever... It's easy for me to forget that it wasn't too long ago that all of these countries were throwing bombs at each other. Maybe that's why people in North America seem a lot more laid back. People forget the past here. We just move and forget.
Playing every night with our french friends Cheveu was a treat. Playing with a familiar band every night lent some added perspective to the whole thing, watching how audiences in other countries reacted to them was great. Nothing made sense to me. Playing in places like Zagreb, Croatia or Benesov, Czech Republic was awesome. When we started Tyvek, the goal was to try to maybe learn ten songs well enough so that we all started and finished playing at the same time, and here we were in these extremely foreign places. It just didn't make sense, and I really felt free.
Another thing that added to the strangeness was that we were touring with a different line up, Matt and myself with our friend Ted enlisted to play keyboard. The other 3 Tyvek members all had to bail on the tour in the month/week before we left, so inviting Ted along was our last attempt to salvage the whole thing. Luckily, he could do it and was down to venture to another continent to play a prominent musical role in a band he'd only jammed with on two prior occasions, and hey he didn't fuck up too bad. The first night in middle of nowhere Switzerland was a hilarious debacle, and we all had our doubts, but we started to find some good jams and after a couple more shows the songs took on a new life with no bass, one guitar, drums, casio and vocals. I never imagined the songs being played like that, but the challenge certainly kept things interesting and definitely kept me on my toes.
In , April 09.
Chloe : How did yous end up hooking up with Cheveu??
Kevin: We met Cheveu when we played together at a bar in Hamtramck Michigan called "The Locker Room." It was my first and only time at this bar... that was fall 2006. We played a couple of other shows with them (Green Gay, Wisconsin and then a show again in Detroit). We were fans of their music and so we made plans to tour the west coast together... that was may 2007. We had a great time... it's great to play with a band that you really like to listen to and watch almost every night, and personally we all got along splendidly. It's nice to tour with people you can just chillax with and get out the boom box and enjoy some Bar B Q and tunes.
Chloe : Yes! I only like playing with bands you can chillax with! It’s what it’s all about!I wanna ask you about line-up. When I saw you guys in Austin it was as 3 piece , with Shelley on bass. But Heath told me he played some shows on the west coast a bit before that.So, who is in Tyvek right now? What line-up can we expect for your upcoming shows?
In Pittsburgh , January 07.
Kevin : Right now Tyvek is Matt, Shelley and me. Larry, Heath, and Damon are still a part of Tyvek in different way. It's been a transition. Larry's job is more serious and he can't get the time off to tour as much as we'd like. He's a great bass player and the coolest guy I know, and he has been very supportive. Larry and I have been friends since I was age 13, and he lives right down the road from me. Damon and Heath live in other states, and that makes things difficult for obvious reasons. The five us were rarely able to just play together in a casual laid back way. Heath and Damon are great musicians and friends, and I often miss what they added to the songs. Now, the band is back in a forming, embryonic state, and as new things emerge and become more defined I'm sure we will start adding more players to the mix here and there, which is what we've always done. Still, Tyvek sounds like Tyvek whether it's 8 people or 3 people.
Chloe : What's your songwriting process?
Kevin : The process is always different for each song, never the same way twice for me... sometimes I have something definite in mind musically or lyrically, like certain chord changes or words. Sometimes both. Sometimes we will just repeat a chord or a rhythm or a word or two and try changing them gradually, listening back to recordings, keeping what sounded cool, forgetting about the parts that didn't work. I find volume and rhythm to be the most inspiring things... everything comes after that, hearing loud drums and just playing guitar loud. Repeating the same things over and over along with the music, going through the day's events in my head, phrases, things that people said coming back to me. repeating them. Sometimes I'll be walking around and tunes and words will just start to play in my head. I think, "cool!" then I get home and try to play guitar along with the tune. Sometimes it sounds great, sometimes I forget about it the next day. I just try to keep an open mind and I think that songs can come from anywhere. Sometimes a song is written in a half hour sometimes it's years before an idea gets fully realized. One thing is for sure, I feel like I can't not do it and that I'll always be making music one way or another.
Chloe : One of the first things that drew me to your band was the fact that the lyrics are about pretty everyday , mundane stuff.You sing about cars, appliances , the urban landscape – Is your subject matter influenced by living in Detroit?
Kevin : The subject matter is definitely influenced by Detroit, but then I don't know if there's much stuff in the lyrics that couldn't be found anywhere in any city or in any case in someone's dream of being in a city. We get lots of precipitation here as I bet you do in Montreal as well. Winter is long: freezing cold, damp, tons of snow, constant cloud cover. In fall the trees are very colorful, lots of sun and crisp air, rain. Spring is damp and cold but light gets longer and warm air eventually pushes in. Summer is insane hot and extremely humid and long with lots of thunder storms, etc.. Our sound is influenced by Detroit.... Detroit's always playing on my imagination/nerves and it allows us to expand in whatever way we can into a space that's already charged with its own volatile atmospheric disturbances, independent, harassed, blamed, Detroit is the most dead on vision of the future I don't know what it is, it's certainly a headache, but it feels like nowhere anyone should live. Ha ha. But it's honest. Everyone knows they'd be better off somewhere else. Right now the national media keeps saying, "oh the government is bailing out Detroit..." What bailout? Detroit hasn't gotten any help from anybody for as long as I can remember, and helping out the failing car industry is a much different thing than helping out the city. Detroit's been bailing out America for the last 100 years, and this is our thanks, we get to be the canary in the coal mine. Detroit has always been at the forefront of any social/cultural advances in America and this is how we'll be punished, they're just going to try to hold us under water until we drown.
Chloe : How do you drive?
Kevin : I drive very carefully and slowly. I used to be a fast driver and when I was a teenager I was into drag racing and stuff, but now it's slow and steady. The world is a dangerous place and human beings are fragile: wheels of love!
S/T out now on Siltbreeze