MATERIAL BOYS: Tyvek Have Come For Your Shorts

Music Features
MATERIAL BOYS: Tyvek Have Come For Your Shorts
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Jan 23, 2008, 04:56

© by Ash Nowak

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Tyvek - FAST Metabolism
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“It was kind of a con when we started,” says Tyvek guitarist/vocalist Kevin. “It was like ‘Let's start a band. It doesn't have to be any good.'”

Despite such inauspicious beginnings, Tyvek, a punk rock juggernaut from Detroit, Michigan, is one of 2008s brightest hopes. Largely eschewing the garage rock/techno trappings of their hometown (the members are all natives of Detroit or spitting distance thereof), the band approaches each song like it was storming a castle. A cursory look at the generous amount of Tyvek footage on YouTube (more on this in a second) shows a band as in touch with the Killed By Death legacy as with the '90s Siltbreeze roster and punk-by-default bands like Electric Eels, all the while maintaining a distinct identity among a rabble of new upstarts.

Though there exists a king's ransom of Tyvek live footage online, the band has done little touring. Kevin was recently knocked out by a visit to nearby Toronto.

“I was amazed at how, in four hours and five minutes, it's a world of difference (from Detroit),” says Kevin. “Not just it being a different country, but everything, wow! For us, it's big news.”

Despite local ties—guitarist Heath also plays in Little Claw, and other members are occupied with various other projects—Tyvek are still relatively unappreciated at home.

© by Jon Jones

“No one comes down to check out Detroit bands in Detroit,” Kevin says. “It's not like people from the suburbs come out to see it, (when we play), it's just kinda empty.”Â

Poorly attended local gigs and live performances online will have to do for now, as the individual members of Tyvek are currently tethered to responsibilities at home.

“We all work straight jobs or are between straight jobs,” says Kevin. “This summer, we wanna do a big tour. We did two weeks out west, and we did ten days on the East Coast, but that's not really that much if you think about it. It's mostly the job situation.”

This hasn't kept the band from releasing numerous (sadly out of print) cassettes, vinyl singles, and CDRs. To date the band has amassed nearly ten releases in just over a year, only two of which are currently available. This, it seems, is by design.

“The CDRs are all gone,” admits Kevin. “We just didn't want to keep selling them. I like making CDRs, they're good to have at shows, but we're definitely gonna be recording a full length soon.”

Of all the band's live footage currently up on YouTube (check the version of “Needles Drop” that sounds like the Minutemen having an aneurysm), the most striking is of a concert Tyvek played at no less a hotbed of punk than the American Apparel store in Manhattan. Pared down to a duo, the clip features an ecstatic Kevin and Tyvek drummer Matt Z., on electric guitar and cardboard box, respectively, hammering out an insane version of their soon-to-be classic “Future Zone” (sample lyric: “If that's a police song, you're already beat/if that's a police song, you're fucked anyway”). It is only when the camera pans the crowd—or lack thereof—that we see that the band is pretty much entertaining themselves. This seriously Jad and David moment should be enough to convert even the most jaded of beard-strokers.

“We were just in town,” Kevin explains. “It's not too crazy of a story. Our friend works for the American Apparel radio station, Viva Radio, and he was like ‘we've got these Tyvek shorts in the store, you guys need to come down to the store and put on the shorts and play.' We'd just played a show the night before so we were all stoked and we were hanging out in New York and we were just like ‘yeah, whatever, let's go down there, grab a beer.' We brought a super tiny practice amp and we banged on a cardboard box. It was fun.”  Â

So are Tyvek actually named after the moisture barrier material used to make, among other things, expensive shorts?

“Yeah, we're really named after Tyvek material,” confesses Kevin, “mostly for the home wrap application. A lot of old houses in Detroit get torn down whether they're salvageable or not and all these condo looking developments spring up in their place, and while they're building them the Tyvek wrap is always visible for a long time, creating the weird situation where sometimes you're going through this old neighborhood and then all of a sudden there's just ‘Tyvek' as far as the eye can see. Free advertising, right?”

What about the swag one expects from such a shameless corporate tie-in?

“We got, like, a little discount on (American Apparel) t-shirts and stuff. We got a free pair of the Tyvek shorts for everyone in the band.”

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