It’s safe to assume that when Tom Fec, frontman of psychedelic electro
weirdos Black Moth Super Rainbow, decided to strike out with his solo
project, Tobacco, it would be to indulge even the strangest inclination
he felt pulsing in his head. That’s certainly true, and the music is all the more bizarre for it.
“It’s exactly what I’m into, without worrying what people might think,” Fec said. “It’s stuff that I was worried to put into Black Moth ... I thought it might be too fucked-up.”
He’s been perfecting the material since 2008, when he released his first solo disc. The music’s crunchy, beat-laden form has taken on a host of labels, everything from alternative hip-hop to stoner rock to electronica. Fec has a simpler name for it.
“I’m just trying to make stuff that sounds good to me,” he said. “I don’t know that anyone else can tell, but I’m trying to make pop music.”
Tobacco openly pursues — and has come close to mastering — a trippy, bizarre style meant to invoke as strong a psychological state as an emotional one. Although “paranoid” isn’t quite the right word, Fec aims in that general direction.
“It’s anxious, but not in a horrible, psychosis type of way. It’s more that feeling of when you are a kid making prank calls, kind of worried they might find out who you are or get in trouble,” he said. “It’s the fun kind of paranoid.”
Tobacco gets to pursue more heightened angles in a live setting; the band is almost perpetually masked, as grimy videos and flashing strobes light up the venue as the beats chomp against the walls.
“I like it to actually sound bigger and wider, a little spaced-out,” Fec said. “I want it to be like this big, fucked-up dance party.”
He learned a thing or two about melding the peculiar and groovy in collaborating with the equally capable purveyor of the weird, Beck, on Tobacco’s latest, 2010’s “Manic Meat.” It was a dream come true for Fec, who grew up marveling Beck’s seminal “Mellow Gold,” and he came away with tracks he never saw coming.
“What he was hearing and what I was hearing were the complete opposite of what he gave me. That’s kind of why I liked it so much,” Fec said. “That’s what’s most fun about working with someone like that: when they completely surprise you and do something you didn’t think was in them. That ends up working even better than what you had in mind.”
Black Moth flutters back from its hiatus this summer and will record a new album later this year, and Fec now has yet another weapon in his arsenal of weird going forward with both groups.
“There was an element of surprise in working with Beck that I had forgotten about,” he said. “Surprise had become less frequent, and I like the idea of changing it up how he did. It will be a little bit of what guides me in the future.”