bestnom1000x50

Not (exclusively) for acid-heads: A chat with Black Moth Super Rainbow


Photo: Jae Ruberto

Everywhere youlook, writers just can’t get over how “mysterious” BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW are. Their aliases! Their rural(ish) Pennsylvanian home base! Their name! The bearing-scrambling enigma of it all.  Perhaps the greatest mystery is who came up with this “mysterious” shit in the first place. I didn’t have to perform a secret knock on my phone to get head dude Tobacco on the line, and he was happy to reveal whatever juicy little details I hankered for, from his first synth (a Yamaha CS-5) to his feelings on touring (hates it).

 

Tomorrow night, their 5-person analog group hug will come riding into Boston to play selections from their newest release, the comparatively hi-fi Eating Us (Graveface), which was recorded by Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann; and though I know it will be in a van because they told me so, I like to think it will be atop Falcor, or maybe an actual rainbow, pouring in from a green sky with purple clouds made of cosmic bong hits.

 

Just kidding. While they do have a general fuzzy, fantastical sound, BMSR is less the drug-den Muzak that people seem anxious to peg them as, and more like songs left in the sun. This meta-hippy shit is another appraisal of the band that, to Tobacco at least, comes from seemingly nowhere. (Trippy!)

 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR MUSIC GETS MISREPRESENTED OR WHAT?

I feel like my whole existence is a misrepresentation. If you were to go by little blurbs about us, you’d probably think we were hardcore drug users and that we’re tying to make psychedelic acid music. We’re not making music for hippies or acid-heads, We’re trying make pop.

 

PEOPLE LIKE TO CALL YOU GUYS MYSTERIOUS TOO.

I think if you leave out certain elements for people—elements that are completely trivial, that don’t mean anything and that have nothing to do with the music—for some people that’s the most important thing. They have to create something to fill in the space. Maybe because I don’t have a blog and spill my personal life, we’re considered mysterious. I think it’s also because we’re not a big band! You can’t find interviews or anything on us because no one wanted to talk to us until recently. It’s not because I’m sitting here declining interviews.

 

ONE A SCALE OF 1 TO CARING HARD, HOW HARD DO YOU CARE ABOUT GEAR?

I don’t study gear or care about gear so much, but the few things I have I really care about. I’m not trying to make like vintage synth music, but I do think vintage synths sound more alive than digital ones. People are kidding themselves if they think the new Minimoogs are the same as the old ones. There’s something about that sound that you can’t recreate. We were in this old van a few days ago going on vacation. The van was from 1992 and all the speakers were kind of blown out, but even that: it was so much more alive than a blown speaker in a new car.

 

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT BLACK MOTH WAS BORN OF ITS GEAR?

I’d say the project came about not because I was trying to use them, but because I had them. I guess everything’s always sort of been the same with Black Moth, me sitting around coming up with stuff in my bedroom. I moved from cheap electric guitars, to cheap acoustic guitars, to electronics. I overstayed my welcome with guitar. Last summer I got myself a bass and would sit around trying to write basslines, but they all sounded like something else.

 

THAT’S FUNNY, ONE OF OUR READERS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHY CERTAIN SYNTH LINES FROM DANDELION GUM SEEM TO HAVE REAPPEARED ON EATING US? IS THAT THE CASE?

It’s a good observation. As far as I know I didn’t consciously recycle any lines. But the way I’ve always treated Black Moth is about trying to perfect a sound in an album. All through Eating Us, I hadn’t really thought about changing around what I’m doing. I had this picture of what it would be, but I never had the knowhow or the means to do it. I’m just trying to make each album better and better, so it might just come from having a similar way of doing things.

 

SAID READER WOULD ALSO LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS—DO THE FULL BAND TREATMENTS OF YOUR SONGS COME FROM IMPROV AMONG YOU OR IS IT ALL CAREFULLY PIECED TOGETHER? IT MUST BE HARD TO KEEP A SENSE OF MINIMALISM WITH FIVE PEOPLE PLAYING.

Most of the recordings I prefer to do on my own. I like to keep each part really, really important. When I bring it to the band for the live show, I do think it’s stays kind of minimal in that there aren’t lines in there that are just thrown in for padding. If there’s no space for something, that person just doesn’t play—but we never force things in to fill space.

 

YOU RECENTLY MOVED TO PITTSBURGH PROPER, DO YOU FEEL AT HOME THERE?

On a personal level I feel at home. It’s actually my favorite city in the country. Music-wise, we’ve had a really rough time. When we were starting out, no one here would have us, no one would let us play. Now, we don’t really focus on Pittsburgh. I think it was just that we weren’t really part of anything, we were just trying to do something on our own.

 

IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING THOUGH. DO YOU ENJOY TOURING THE SONGS?

I hate it. I hate performing , I hate touring, I hate being on stage, I hate people watching me. But now, we just do it because it’s a good way to get the record out there. I’m not really like this, but you know, people who are paying for your album really expect or get a lot more joy out of a live show. For me it’s just a way to make the songs better and better.

 

BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW + SOUNDPOOL | ICA, 10 Northern Ave., Boston | August 28 @ 7:30 | $20 - $25 | 617.876.4275 or www.worldmusic.org

| More


ADVERTISEMENT
 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
ADVERTISEMENT
OTD Categories
Out
VIDEO: Arctic Monkeys at the House of Blues
Rare Frequencies: Trouble and treble
Lady Lee's Lion's Den Playlist
HOMEWORK: Assignment #2: D-Tension
Ticket On-Sale Alert: Muse, Mariah Carey, Black Eyed...
Latest Comments
ADVERTISEMENT
Search Blogs
 
Links
Bradley’s Almanac -
Band in Boston -
Wayne & Wax -
Aurgasm -
Anti-Gravity Bunny -
Clicky Clicky -
Soul Clap -
Lemmingtrail -
WMBR -
WFNX -
Jump the Turnstyle -
Loaded Gun -
Vanyaland -
Ryan's Smashing Life -
Boston Band Crush -
Sleepover Shows -
Boston Accents -
Pilgrims of Sound -
Allston Rat City -
Playground Boston -
I Heart Noise -
On The Download Archives