Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Tom Fec, known better as Tobacco, is a man who remains shrouded in many mysteries. While the musician is determined to keep his personal life personal, he opens up to MXDWN regarding his passionate musical career.
Tobacco’s take on music production is nothing like that of Black Moth. Though still within the realm of electronic music, he creates a more “sinister” sound, as he says. “Whatever is darker about it [my music] is just me having fun. I don’t know what that says about me, but it’s weird since I feel that BMSR is darker.”
Having no previous musical background, Tobacco admits that “I don’t know anything about music. I did not go to school for it. I think learning music [theory] is a waste of time and that while in the right hands it could be worthwhile but too many people who shouldn’t be studying it study it and fuck things up for everyone else.” Not knowing what a music note looks like doesn’t bother Tobacco, instead he relies on his ears to determine what sounds good or not.
In his days at Hampton High School in Pennsylvania with bandmate Set Ciotti, the two formed the band Allegheny White Fish, which begat satanstompingcaterpillars, which evolved into the modern Black Moth Super Rainbow. “It was kind of a dumb name.” Tobacco says. “But it was kind of dumb music too. We were pretty much just fucking around and making noise but at the same time I took it seriously. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.” He reflects to himself for a moment, as if reminiscing about the days of his youth. “When I think about it, it was the most free I’d even been with making stuff because no one was going to hear it, you know?”
With the intention of creating music exclusively for him to work out to, Tobacco began making beats. “I was using the music to jog to,” he explains. “At the thirty minute mark I realized how well everything worked with each other and I was like, ‘Hey, this kind of sounds like an album’”. The origin of his first solo album, Fucked Up Friends, was just for fun and was “Consistently calmer,” as Tobacco details.
Revealing the method of his production process, Tobacco tells us, “I used a couple analogue synths and a bass guitar. I’m still learning how to play bass while I’m making new songs. A lot of the sounds don’t even sound like bass, but there is a ton of bass guitar on the new album.” He adds that a majority of the featured songs he made working on the last BMSR album and that a companion album titled Mystic Thickness is scheduled to follow Maniac Meat.
On May 25 Tobacco’s new album, Maniac Meat, will hit shelves globally, both digital and literal. With this album Tobacco takes his solo stylings in a slightly different direction. “The new album is a lot wilder. It hops around a lot to different places. Some people might not think so but it runs in the spectrum of what I do. It almost doesn’t make sense until it’s over, and then it makes a lot of sense.” Tobacco remarks that he initially didn’t plan on making this album and that it simply took shape.
During Maniac Meat’s post production, Tobacco explains how he enlisted the aid of legendary singer/songwriter Beck on two of the album’s songs. “At the end, when I realized I had an album and not just a collection of songs, I wanted to do a couple things different. I kept hearing Beck’s voice in the background on a couple songs; I thought it would go perfect. It had never even crossed my mind to ask him, because I thought it was impossible, so I was trying to come up with my own way to add his style. I was going to try to channel Beck. I didn’t get the chance to try, which is a good thing because that probably would have worked out pretty bad. A friend of mine was talking with Beck’s music producer, who liked Fucked Up Friends, so that was the opportunity.” While Tobacco and Beck live on different sides of the country, the two exchanged music files via e-mail and have never actually met. Still, Tobacco confesses his crush on the Grammy nominee. “It was definitely a shock to be able to work with him. Mellow Gold [Beck album] is probably my favorite album. I would love to work with him on future projects.” Though the topic of a collaboration wasn’t discussed by the two music producers, Tobacco admits that he cannot foresee what the future holds.
Recently BMSR keyboardist who calls herself The Seven Fields of Alphelion released her debut solo album Periphery, which showcases her melodic pianist skills as well as her taste for analogue dissonance. Tobacco discloses his delight at the album, having heard it since its early stages in 2005, but do BMSR solo projects like these, or Ryan Graveface’s Dreamend, spell the end for the band? “I don’t have any plans for anything.” Tobacco explains. “I’m not planning to make another Black Moth album. If it someday strikes me that I should, that I’d like to make more music that sounds like that, I will, but there aren’t any plans. For the first time I don’t know what my future plans are as far as music production. I’ve got a pretty open future.” Tobacco concludes that after touring the east coast in September with Dreamend he is unsure what fate has in store for him.