His name is Tobacco and he insists that he is not shy. Yet in photographs his face is often cloaked by a pair of hands, interviews are few and far between, and, well, he has no name other than the moniker "Tobacco." Still, the driving force behind Pennsylvania's Black Moth Super Rainbow uses this vague anonymity to his benefit; placing less interest on himself and his fellow band members, instead shifting focus directly onto their wildly creative sound, and the band's recent swirling psych-pop opus, Eating Us.
Little is known about the murky roots of BMSR other than the fact that they are from somewhere in the Keystone State—a "forest glen" is often credited as their origin—and Tobacco runs the show. The sextet is made up of equally-as-ridiculously named performers (The Seven Fields of Aphelion, Power Pill Fist, Father Hummingbird, et al.) all dodging the spotlight alongside their leader.
"It's not that we try to be mysterious," Tobacco explains over the phone. "We just don't really like talking about stuff to begin with, that's just our personalities. But then on top of that, I don't think it's important for people to know everything about us." He has a point. BMSR willingly elect to turn their backs on an era in which the internet has swapped out the artistic air of mystery in exchange for a steady stream of content and information. There are no RSS feeds, revealing blog posts, or Twitter babble. The less you know about this band, the better.
All secrecy issues aside, Eating Us is a welcoming album captured on tape by a man familiar with bending the rigid constraints of pop music, producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai). The album hums along nicely, at a clip similar to that of the nü-lounge stylings of French duo Air—also, comparisons to early Boards of Canada are never too far off—yet all comfort is stripped away when directions are changed, vintage keyboards buzz, and you tumble down a psych-pop rabbit hole. Without trading warmth for technology, Tobacco utilizes a vocoder to mask his high-pitched, cosmic-sounding vocal delivery. There's a distinct layer of warmth there (it's closer to the vulnerability of 808s & Heartbreak, than say "Mr. Roboto"), yet enough deliberate space to detach the words from the band's inspired monolith of brightly colored sounds and sci-fi pop fantasy. It's a kaleidoscope of glorious sounds as seen through a confusing, cataract haze. Without pandering to the bottom dwellers of stoner rock, Eating Us feels like the natural evolution of drug music, a willing collaboration between technological advances and hedonistic urges to drop the fuck out.
So it's no surprise that the outfit's biggest break came from a spaceship—and Santa Claus—obsessed performer who is no stranger to expanding one's mind: Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. BMSR supported the Lips last year, a Sisyphean task when you consider that opening for one of the greatest live bands on the planet is usually not recommended for a group not accustomed to showing their faces. "It would have been really intimidating if we had to go on after them, but that's the good thing about opening," explains Tobacco, before reinforcing his reluctance to stay out in the open too long. "I don't think stage fright is the issue with us, I just don't like drawing attention to myself."