BY DIANCA POTTS Analog-synth psych-poppers Black Moth Super Rainbow hail from the hinterlands of Western Pennsylvania. Their music, spanning the course of four albums, has been described thusly: “Sometimes the songs feel like pagan rituals in a sugarcoated fairyland. Other times they’re like sad thoughts on the happiest days. All played and lovingly assembled by real people with real hands. BMSR lives and makes music in their own lollipop neon folktale world.” Notoriously camera-shy, Black Moth’s members prefer to hide behind aliases — there is vocalist Tobacco, who does most of the writing and production; Power Pill Fist on bass and Atari; Father Hummingbird on Fender Rhodes and monosynth; The Seven Fields Of Aphelion also on monosynth, and a drummer who goes by the name Iffernaut. Black Moth Super Rainbow plays Johnny Brendas on Saturday in support of Eating Us, their fourth full-length, and with that in mind, Phawker got singer Tobacco on the phone and asked him WTF is up with the crazy names and insanely good music.
PHAWKER: For all the johnny-come-latelys out there, give us a quick recap of how the band got started. Especially the part about how Black Moth Super Rainbow became your moniker.
TOBACCO: The live band came together in 2003 as a way to play out with the stuff I had been making at home. I worked at a grocery store and the name came to me one day because I wanted a band name that would sound like a classic cereal name.
PHAWKER: Each member of your band seems to have a stage name. Are these on-stage personas meant to create an enigma around your performance or is it solely an attempt to keep your private lives private?
TOBACCO: For me, it’s just trying to keep my private life and music life separate. It’s not even another persona to me. It’s just a name that isn’t my real one.
PHAWKER: Upon first listen Eating Us plays out smoother/more chilled out than your last release. Would you say that the fluidity of Eating Us is discernibly different from previous albums?
TOBACCO: Yeah, I wanted to have one album under my belt that was easy to digest, one that might not scare people off. Fridmann smoothed the edges on the actual sound, but I had also just come off of my fucked up friends record and wanted to something that wasn’t so wild.
PHAWKER: How’d the recording process work out this time around?
TOBACCO: Instead of making it at home and putting it out like that, I made it at home and brought my finished version to Fridmann’s studio to polish. So all the drums are real, and a lot of the bass is guitar instead of synth. It wasn’t supposed to be a synth record, even though they’re still all over the place.
PHAWKER: Who’s your lyricist?
PHAWKER: Would you consider the album’s content thematic in any way? Why or why not?
TOBACCO: No, I really wanted to stay away from themes and concepts with this one because I feel like the story overshadowed everything else last time around.
PHAWKER: The album art is pretty awesome. Who’s the mastermind behind it?
TOBACCO: Thanks. That’s me too.
PHAWKER: When writing a song, is it more of a collaborative effort, or does each band member contribute separately?
TOBACCO: It’s usually just me playing around until I stumble onto something. the difference with this one was with a few of the songs, once I had them as finished as I felt like finishing them, I sent the drafts to Ryan Graveface to add a guitar or even bass.
PHAWKER: Hands down my fave track on the album is “Iron Lemonade.” What’s yours?
PHAWKER: Keeping with the tradition of accompanying your releases with awesome/bizarre packing, what was the inspiration for the fuzzy pouch that came with Eating Us? How do you think fans will put it to use?
TOBACCO: I think it’s important for us to incorporate more senses with our albums, because you can find the music for free anywhere. We had already done the scratch n’ sniff, so fur seemed like the next place to go.
PHAWKER: How do you feel about music reviewers constantly comparing your discography to acid and ‘shroom trips?
TOBACCO: I think it’s getting pretty lazy. It’s become like the stock description for people who don’t want to take the time to understand it.
PHAWKER: Where were you/what were you doing when you found out Michael Jackson died? How did you react? Did you cry?
TOBACCO: I was working on a remix for Health. I stopped to watch the news for a second because I thought it was weird.
PHAWKER: Miley Cyrus vs. a werewolf. In your opinion, who would win?
TOBACCO: Somehow probably Pitchfork.
PHAWKER: Ever been to Eat ‘N Park? If so what’s your take?
TOBACCO: Yeah, I think Eat ‘N Park gets a bad rap with out-of-towners. I love it. I’m there at least once a week.
PHAWKER: If applicable, what’s your favorite thing about being on tour?
TOBACCO: I don’t like being on tour, but it’s nice to kind of leave the worries at home.
PHAWKER: What will you miss most while on the road?
TOBACCO: MY TOTAL FREEDOM!