Through the machinations of luck and commerce joined at the hip, I find myself not in Detroit this month, but on tour in Europe. For the small to midsize band, “touring Europe” is a dizzying repetition of glimpses of beauty from the window of your van, occasional walks through cobblestoned antiquity while passing the Warhammer store, and marveling at the differences in gas stations between countries. The Netherlands is the one that keeps their Donald Duck comics at knee-height display next to the hardcore porn, as you do. Germany makes you pay to piss, which used to be a thing in America until crusaders from, of all places, Dayton, Ohio, eradicated this nation- wide practice in the ’70s. Of course, the sensible American response to the end of this (yellow) revenue stream was to just get rid of public bathrooms altogether. Belgium is also here.
There are other quirky differences between countries, but the brain trust at CREEM don’t throw peanuts at me to be the less-cool punk rock Rick Steves—no, they insult my worth through low pay to write about Detroit. So what is going on in Detroit while I’m over in the land of the respect- ful venues that don’t take a cut of merch sales and the toilets with little shelves in them so you can really examine your shit before flushing? Reports are the Belle Isle giant slide cracked some skulls, as it has been doing for years, God bless it. There were weeklong power outages and oppres- sive heat waves and other things that slyly nod to the water wars and mohawk future. So yeah, just another summer in the city. One slightly hidden development, whether due to its underground status or that it’s not as interesting as kids getting absolutely destroyed by a giant slide in a municipal park, was the return of the band Tyvek to Detroit. Tyvek are a band I would call “art punk” and probably get laughed at. But critics and drunks have called them “nervy,” “angular,” “avant-junk,” and all the other epithets that get applied to a rock band that plays fast and loose.
They “returned” as in not really going away, just going quiet for a spell, as many bands have done lately. There’s no money or glory in having no money and catching a coronavirus for drink tickets and a night on a cat-pissed air mattress. So they’ve “returned” as in playing shows again. As in all the members live in Southeast Michigan again. It’s a great development for those of us who like to see their favorite bands carry on and change, to weather the storm of The COVID Years and come out the other side. It’s an aspect I’ve always appreciated about Tyvek. They came up in a world obsessed with blog rock and survived being jok- ingly referred to as “just another shitgaze band” back when even MTV sent Old Man Norris out to sniff around invented microgenres in Brooklyn lofts. They navigated garage-rock turkeys and brutal touring routes through punk basements and dog-filled squat shows. They inexplicably still exist—now in a world chained to streaming, rating websites, and records as aesthetics—still in the basement or the backyard. They are a kind of blueprint for how to be a Detroit band.
So I, homesick for Coney Dogs and the giant slide, Detroit and all the rest of it, realized that with my Official CREEM Writer’s BadgeTM, I could get paid to ask questions. I called up Kevin Boyer, lead and only constant member of Tyvek, to clear things up for you and me.