With an aesthetic as profoundly strange as their name, the notoriously elusive Pennsylvania-based electronic group Black Moth Super Rainbow have spawned a sort of bizarre cult following, comprised of heady psychedelic aficionados and weirdos everywhere including Tim and Eric’s Eric Wareheim.
The group utilized a clever Kickstarter account with kooky incentives to raise funds for their new album, including a private skate party with the band and collectible, handmade demonic masks, the electronic group were able to release their latest, the hypnotic Cobra Juicy.
The result? Music that’s both introspective and bizarre, and videos involving chains and force-feeding a rather hip couple an entire birthday cake.
The enigmatic mastermind behind the mask of Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tobacco, Tom Fec, talks about his bouts with nightmares, how music can lose its luster and misconceptions about BMSR.
What was the last dream or nightmare you had?
I haven’t had any lately. But I used to have a lot of nightmares, actually.
Were those nightmares recurring or different every time?
They were always different. I don’t know. I started having some anxiety stuff a while back, and it was so intense that there was nothing left happening in my brain when I went to sleep. I still have dreams sometimes, though, and they’re always very short.
Listening to Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tobacco, the sounds seem otherworldly, as though from the depths of dreams or nightmares.
Oh, I’ve definitely made songs from dreams. Those things definitely stick with me. Lately they’ve been really seldom, though.
What is the most spiritual experience you’ve had with music?
I’ve never really thought of myself as spiritual. I guess the most important times I’ve ever had with music have are where it becomes you, and part of what you’re creating. When you’re in the middle of something, like when you’re involved with it heavily, it loses its magic in a way. I went to school for film, and the first day my film teacher says “this class is going to take the magic out of film for you.” And it kind of did for a while, and it also happens with music. To be able to get outside of that, that’s powerful.
What about that particular class took the magic out of film for you? Did it just boil film down to technical aspects and lose all aesthetic or emotion?
We just had to sit down and watch movies and tear them apart. Then we broke it down: this is the right lighting, this is this, this is wrong. And when you start to tear things down, and break things into elements that are totally definable, all you have then are formulas. It seems like that, so forgetting those formulas later is hard. In that same way it’s really hard for me to get into new bands. The magic is still there for me with older bands, those I was exposed to before I started making music. But when new bands come along, I think, they’re doing this and this. And it sucks. I haven’t been able to get into any new bands.
That is a bummer. When you start to do anything as a profession, it does lose its luster. But you’re still supposed to be doing what you love, right?
Yeah, it does. I still feel magic in what I’m doing, I never think about it technically. It’s weird; I always think of other people as using those formulas, but I don’t think about my own stuff in that way. As long as I can make myself have one of those chills I had as a kid, then I know I’m on the right track because I can’t define what it is.
Which bands still hold the magic for you?
The last band that came along before all this started happening is called Freescha. I don’t understand what they’re doing, still, and I love that. A lot of people like to point to Boards of Canada around the time when I started out, and I guess they’re kind of similar in a way. They put out a single at the beginning of the year, and I listen to it almost every day.
There’s an element of heaviness that is prevalent on both Black Moth Super Rainbow and your Tobacco project — is this conscious? If so, where does it stem from?
I did the new Black Moth album on my own, and the only actual distinction between the two is Black Moth is the stuff I think people won’t be turned off by. Tobacco is the stuff is what people will be turned off by, and that’s where I stand at the heavy of the day. Tobacco is more primal, and I guess that’s where the heaviness sets in, and Black Moth is more of songwriting.
What is the biggest misconception about Black Moth Super Rainbow that’s out there?
99.8% of people out there who have heard of Black Moth think it’s a drug project, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. People want to be in a different state of mind, and that’s fine. I’ve toured with bands and I’ve heard the drug music of people who want to create that, and I think that’s sort of stupid. I think people like to credit drugs as an excuse to not have to use your imagination.
Why do you think that is?
Because they’re conditioned to think that way. It’s really lame. When someone is working in all colors, it’s looked at as weird, or drug music.
You’ve collaborated with Beck and Aesop Rock. Any dream collaborations?
Beck was, and that happened. That was a personal pinnacle, I don’t really have any desire to do more for the time being. Now I think it’s important to make myself better.