Childhood friends Dylan Webber, Seiji Komo and Nathan Kocivar grew up in Ocean Beach, San Diego, about 35 miles south of Assi’s hometown in North County. Though they bonded over different musical genres than the members of Tony Tricks did — focusing instead on reggae, roots dub, hip-hop and jazz — they share a similar respect for strength in numbers. Webber and Komo recall the first live show they ever played, a Fourth of July party at Webber’s father’s office.
“We were super young,” Webber says. “[Our first band] was like punk mixed with reggae —”
“— White boy reggae,” Komo interrupts. Both of them laugh.
“It was just really cool to wing it and play really loud,” Webber says.
Not much about Boostive’s energy — or volume level — has changed since then, but the band’s sound is anything but haphazard or improvised. There is a strong sense of cohesion among the members, which can range from nine to 11 people depending on the song. Komo and Webber, who moved to Santa Cruz after graduating high school, began focusing more heavily on sampling and composition, while Kocivar went the academic route.
“I went away to school at Cal Poly Pomona,” Kocivar says. “I was studying engineering, and I heard this music [Seiji] was making … I came up here and saw what the place was [like], and I thought, ‘I’m not going back to Pomona next year.’” He transferred to Cabrillo College in 2010, and then to UC Santa Cruz shortly thereafter to study music.
Komo had a similar experience with higher education, but knew his priorities when it came to what he wanted to focus on.
“I went to Cabrillo for a little bit,” he said. “I only went to my music class.”
It’s clear that the members’ love for their craft trumps everything else, more than their prescribed plans and roles. The forces that brought the friends together to work towards a collective musical career have also helped them stand out as one of Santa Cruz’s bigger draws. They recently opened for hip-hop giants such as Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde and Del the Funkee Homosapien.
Aside from its beats and soundscapes, the band’s acclaim can also be attributed to its size. Taking after DJ collective Thievery Corporation, Boostive has a core group of members writing the songs — often Komo, Webber and Kocivar — with featured artists joining them for both studio recordings and live shows to build on their ideas. The end result is an immersive party environment everyone in the room is in on — both the audience and the performers.
Local emcee Al Bundi, who has collaborated with Boostive since its inception, often trades off rapping duties with fellow emcee Malcolm Lee. In 2012, Kocivar met singer Salami Rose while the two were students at UCSC, and she has been the band’s featured vocalist ever since.
The band’s performance at The Reef last Saturday night turned the otherwise mellow restaurant and bar into a bustling dancefloor. On Oct. 17, it will travel to La Puente to perform at the Industry Hills Expo Center. Its upcoming EP, “Room for Living,” will be released before the new year.
Boostive’s career shows more and more promise as time goes on, but at their cozy Live Oak home, Komo, Webber and Kocivar seem happy and comfortable. Time will only tell if their motivations for coming to Santa Cruz will keep them here for years to come.