FOR ALMOST A DECADE, BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW HAS EXISTED IN A CANDY-SWIRLED WONDERLAND, RELEASING FOUR ALBUMS THAT BALANCE SUNNY, CHILD-LIKE WHIMSY WITH STREAKS OF SUBTLE MENACE. BUT, JUST AS IMPORTANT IS THEIR IMAGE – AN OBSCURE CONSTRUCTION OF MASKS AND BIZZARO PSEUDONYMS TO KEEP THE OUTSIDE WORLD AT A DISTANCE - THEIR SOUND AND VISION IS PREDOMINANTLY THE WORK OF TOBACCO, AKA THOMAS FEC. AFTER A FALLOW PERIOD OF DELIBERATION, AND HAVING COME CLOSE TO ABANDONING BMSR ENTIRELY, FEC RETURNS CONFIDENTLY ON THE NEW, SELF-RELEASED BMSR ALBUM, COBRA JUICY. IT’S A BEAUTIFUL, HUGE-SOUNDING REAPPRAISAL OF THE SKEWED, ELECTRONIC PSYCHEDELIA THAT THE BAND IS KNOWN FOR. BUT TODAY, AS ALWAYS, DANIEL COLUSSI DISCOVERS FOR ION, THAT FEC OCCUPIES A PLACE THAT’S ALL HIS OWN, PEERING IN AT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY FROM THE VERY PERIPHERIES OF POP.
ION: So Cobra Juicy is a fresh start for you, in a way, isn’t it?
Thomas Fec: I was at this point where the idea of Black Moth was really boring to me. And the album that I was making, which was supposed to come out last year, was an extension of that boredom. It was just more of the same. I got to the point where I was thinking, if I put this out, this will definitely be the end of the band. So I threw it out. I feel like there were some good ideas on there, and those ended up being re-written for Cobra Juicy. So it’s not all lost.
ION: You felt that the concept of Black Moth had been exhausted?
TF: [sigh]...It was one of those crossroads-times where, at least in my case, I felt that what I was doing was always outside of any box. I’d always gone out there to set up my own thing, and in doing that, I created a new box. And that box happened to be even smaller than the box that I was trying to not be in. So, I was like, ‘Fuck it, this is my baby and maybe I’ll just build a new box to get stuck into.’ I imagine a lot of people think that everything I do sounds the same, but to me, the smallest little nuance is how deeply I am going into doing what I’m doing. I feel like that smallest little nuance is a world of difference. So this album feels really different to me from any other Black Moth. It’s a new take on the idea of Black Moth.
ION: How so?
TF: It’s a different state of mind. The old stuff was more...nothing really meant anything. Everything was just a feeling back then. And this album is a lot more lyrical, and the lyrics actually mean something. I approached it more like a songwriter.
ION: Do you think of what you do as pop music?
TF: In my opinion, it’s probably truer now than ever. There’s always that foundation of what I am and what I do, but now, there are little changes that define it for me. I was just out bike riding with one of my friends, trying to explain it to him, and he was like, “You’re fucking crazy, this is not pop in any way!” But it is to me.
ION`; When you were working on the album, was there anything you listened to as inspiration?
TF: I’m not a music lover. I don’t have a vast knowledge of it. This is going to be a hard one to understand, but every time I make an album, in my head I’m modelling it after someone in a way. If you listen to this album really closely, this one is my Bob Seger album.
TF: Yeah, but remember, my opinions of what I do generally only apply to me. A lot of people don’t hear what I hear. I think the most blatant sign of that is in some of the guitar lines. If you listen to a song like “Mainstreet” [from Bob Seger’s Night Moves] and then listen to a song like “We Burn” on my album, I think you can hear the similarities. I tried to model the flow of his album...I don’t know, [laughs]! I got to the point where I realized, if I was going to push myself to do another Black Moth-y kind of album, then I was going to end up bailing on the project anyways, so I didn’t have anything to lose. So, I truly did not give a shit if this was something that people were going to like or not. I don’t expect the fans to be on board with the album at all. It would be awesome if they were, but I don’t expect it, as this is a different animal. I thought, ‘I’m either going to lose everyone by quitting, or I’m going to lose everyone by writing music that I want to write,’ you know what I mean?
ION: There’s a certain kind of freedom there.
TF: It’s really liberating, yeah. At the end of the day, when you truly say ‘fuck it’ and you mean it, it feels really good.
ION: For you, where does Black Moth slot in with the general goings-on of the indie world?
TF: I don’t really think about it. I mean, I’m thinking about it right now though, and I don’t think there is a place for me and what I do. That was made very apparent when pretty much every single label said no. They all said I was unsignable. I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged where I’m at, and I feel even more alienated now after I extended my hand, and for the first time was willing to work with labels, and they all shut me out. We did really well on our Kickstarter, though, and all those people can’t be wrong. I think that says it all.
ION: So you wanted to put Cobra Juicy out on a more established label than you’ve worked with in the past?
TF: I did, yeah, and anyone you can think of said no. So it’s going to be out on Rad Cult, which is my little imprint. It’ll be out in stores and everything, CD and vinyl. After months and months of rejection, and everyone telling me that I was unsignable and that the music didn’t make sense. I don’t think vindication is the right word, but something like that.
ION: The spirit of Black Moth strikes me as being somewhat on the outside of things.
TF: Maybe this industry needs to crash and burn, and we all need to be on our own little islands, or something. I feel like the only way to truly exist in the arts is to just do your own thing anyways. The whole concept of a music industry is just fucked.